Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 14th March 2019

Oxford Street Terror Attack Foiled

A 27-year-old man has been jailed last week for planning an attack on the UK’s busiest shopping street. The investigation led by Counter Terrorism Police resulted in Lewis Ludlow being sentenced at the Old Bailey to life, serving a minimum of 15 years before consideration for parole.

Police had evidence of Ludlow pledging allegiance to Daesh recorded on a mobile phone which he had tried to dispose of by throwing in a storm drain. In the recovered mobile phone video footage Ludlow stated “we (Daesh) love death as much as you love life”.

In footage released by Counter-Terrorism Policing UK on Twitter, Ludlow is seen to be scoping out and taking photographs on Oxford Street, where he planned to hire a vehicle and drive it into the crowds. However, officers from Counter-Terrorism Policing South East were watching as he carried out his reconnaissance of potential sites. Ludlow was being monitored by counter-terrorism detectives after his passport was confiscated when he attempted to travel to the Philippines, where he had been sending money to fund terrorist activity.

Police are urging the public to be vigilant and support the ACT campaign (Action Counters Terrorism) by reporting any suspicious behaviour to gov.uk/ACT or 0800 789 321.

Landmark FGM Sentence

The 37-year-old Ugandan mother, the first person in the UK to be convicted of female genital mutilation, has been jailed for eleven years with an additional two-year sentence for the possession of indecent images and extreme pornography. During sentencing, Mrs Justice Whipple described the mother’s act of FGM as “a barbaric and sickening crime”.

The woman, who cannot be named to safeguard the 3-year-old victim, enlisted another woman (whom she referred to as a “witch”) to mutilate her daughter at their east London home in 2017. Suffering severe bleeding, the 3-year-old was taken to hospital where her mother claimed the child had fallen from a work surface onto a cupboard door whilst trying to reach biscuits. However, during surgery the consultant surgeon found three separate sites of injury typical of Type 2 FGM, which involves the mutilation of the clitoris and removal of the labia minora.

Her former partner was cleared of involvement in the FGM offence however, following a guilty plea to two charges of possession of an indecent image of a child and two charges of possessing extreme pornography, he was sentenced to eleven months in prison, which he has already served on remand.

A police search of the family home found evidence described as “spells, curses and witchcraft” which included two cow tongues bound in wire with embedded nails and a blunt knife. Police also found limes and fruit containing the names of police officers, doctors, the director of public prosecutions and the social worker assigned to the case, thought to be a bid to silence them. While there are no direct links between FGM and witchcraft, cases attributing witchcraft have been documented. Examples include grinding up the female genitals in rituals to promote fertility or wealth, using FGM to rid a girl deemed a witch of a curse or naming the victim as a witch if death occurs during or following the act of FGM.

FGM

Despite previous delays, The Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill had its third reading in the House of Commons this week. The amendments agreed state that proceedings under Section 5A of, and Schedule 2 to, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 are family proceedings.

This is a small but important change to the Act which rectifies an omission in existing child protection law and enables the Family Courts to direct Local Authorities to make interim care orders under the Children Act 1989 in child cases relating to FGM. (Such powers already exist for other types of abuse e.g. Forced Marriage).

Legal Action following Parsons Green Bombing

The foster parents of a teenager jailed for life for the Parsons Green tube train bombing are suing Surrey County Council for negligence, claiming they were not told about his terrorist past. The couple claim that the council did not inform them that the teenager, in a January 2016 immigration review, had admitted he had been trained to kill by the Islamic State terrorist group.

The teenager, Ahmed Hassan, received a life sentence aged 18 last year after being found guilty of planting a bomb in September 2017 on a tube train at Parsons Green. The bomb, made by Hassan, partially exploded injuring 51 people. Hassan, an Iraqi national, had previously been identified as an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC) in October 2015 and taken into the care of Surrey County Council.

Following the trial, Surrey County Council stopped the couple, who previously fostered 269 children over a 47-year period and were awarded MBEs in 2010, from fostering.  This action has resulted in the couple also claiming that their right to a family life, under the Human Rights Act, has been breached. The couple are also taking the legal action to ensure that other foster carers are made aware of serious concerns about young people being placed with them.

The letter to Rt Hon Yvette Cooper, Chair of the Home Office Affairs Select Committee, following the Parsons Green Review said: “There was an apparent lack of formal, documented plan to manage and mitigate Ahmed Hassan’s vulnerabilities and associated risks.” The committee also recommended all social care staff and managers should receive training around radicalisation.

A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “We are defending this claim. However, we acknowledge this has been a very difficult time for Mr and Mrs Jones and their family”.

Ofsted research- knife crime

Ofsted have published Safeguarding children and young people in education from knife crime, which outlines findings of research carried out in 29 schools, colleges and pupil referral units (PRUs) in London.

Click here to read our Safeguarding Director Sam Preston’s comments on the report findings.

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We know what works, we need capacity now.


The Ofsted report, Safeguarding children and young people in education from knife crime (2019), based on research carried out in 29 schools, colleges and pupil referral units (PRUs) in London was published yesterday. Recognising that no one agency can solve knife crime, the research details findings and recommendations based on the following questions:

  • What are schools, colleges and PRUs in London doing to safeguard children and learners from knife crime while on school premises?
  • How are schools, colleges and PRUs in London giving children the knowledge and skills to stay safer in their local communities?
  • How are exclusions being used when children bring knives to school?

Sadly, the findings and recommendations of this report are no revelation. In essence they focus on the usual suspects- that all practitioners, regardless of agency, are key to reducing crime and abuse by:

  • Improving partnership working and strategic planning
  • Providing early help and intervention
  • Improving information sharing
  • Extending the PHSE curriculum

However, whilst caution should be maintained as to the study’s transferability across England (the study sample is small and is London centric – a city supported by a bespoke violence reduction unit not in place in most other cities) there is one key element of the report worthy of focus, particularly as we are in the midst of transferring LSCB duties to local area tri-partnership arrangements, namely Recommendation 1:

Local community safety partnerships should fully involve schools, colleges and PRUs in developing and implementing local strategies that aim to address knife crime and serious youth violence.

In my opinion, this recommendation emphasises and strengthens the need for all educational settings within Tri-partnership localities to be designated as named partners. (Tri-partnerships consist of 3 safeguarding partners: Local authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Chief Officers of Police).

The information schools, academies, PRUs and colleges hold is crucial if we are to truly understand what is happening at a local level and best inform local strategies. Unlike any other, educational settings have the most frequent regular contact with children, young people and their families and, as the report highlights, we must develop better ways to access and use this intelligence.

This all sounds infinitely sensible, and dare I say somewhat familiar, but here’s the rub- resources. As a former strategy manager for school improvement I know how passionately Head Teachers, Principals and their SLTs feel about improving the outcomes for all children and young people and, given the opportunity, always value ways to help make a difference. I don’t doubt that for a second. But in thinking just how this strategic collaboration might work effectively, particularly with core educational roles being stretched to capacity, I fear we may face similar problems currently experienced in other services who feel seriously under resourced and underfunded.

For example, this week Chief Constable Sara Thornton (CBE QPM Chair of National Police Chiefs Council) gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry on serious violence, which included a focus on knife crime. The Chief Constable reported to the committee on the findings following the second summit of Chief Constables and the Home Secretary.

In her evidence to the committee it was clear that strategically, the Police know what tactics work, where hotspots exist, how County Lines exacerbate the problem and the impact organised crime has on serious violence. The restriction in effectively doing this, described by Thornton as “suppressing the violence now”, is one of capacity.

In her statement “we (the Police) can’t arrest our way out it it”, Thornton highlighted that violent crime is not solely a policing problem. In acknowledging the vulnerability of excluded / off rolled pupils, children in care or who are homeless becoming involved in violent crime she, like this Ofsted report, recognises the need for better collaborative strategic approaches.

But like education, policing faces similar problems. Staff shortages, with many having left policing, has placed stress and strain on core policing. Even the 970M funding increase pledged for 2020 will not replace the officers who have left the force. In responding to serious incidents e.g. the response to the recent fatal knife crimes in Birmingham, Chief Constables are faced with transferring resources in a model Thornton described as “robbing Peter to pay Paul” i.e. in essence there is no capacity to carry out the core work when police officers are drafted elsewhere.

In the education world this has a familiar resonance. There is no slack capacity in teaching or supporting pupils. Most staff have multiple roles within their organisation as the norm. Gone are the days of supply staff budgets to release staff for external commitments.

In summary, whilst the focus of this Ofsted report is useful in directing an overarching strategic lead, it does little to contribute to the dilemma that has existed for many years now- how to effectively make these overarching targets a reality in practice without substantial investment and new models of collaborative working. The report states it is produced to highlight areas of practice for further consideration by central government, local government and school leaders. I’m not convinced they are telling them anything they didn’t already know and as Chief Constable Thornton said “we know what works, we need capacity now”.



Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 7th March 2019


Serious Violent Crime

Following the deaths of teenagers Jodie Chesney (17) & Yousef Ghaleb Makki (17) from violent knife crime last weekend, Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP addressed the House of Commons on Tuesday. He highlighted that serious violence is on the rise describing it as “a cycle of senseless violence that is robbing people across the UK of their lives”. Of the 726 people murdered last year in the UK, 285 of these deaths occurred by the use of a knife or bladed weapon, the highest ever recorded level. In his speech, Javid described the complexity of tackling serious crime and the need for “coordinated action on multiple fronts”. Javid described this action as:

  • A strong law enforcement response (as detailed in our previous bulletin the new Offensive Weapons Bill includes new offences for knife crime);
  • Early intervention the through the Early Intervention Youth Fund (which funds local projects) and knife crime prevention orders aimed at preventing young people carrying knives;
  • Improved Police resourcing – next year HM Government plans to increase Police funding by 976M;
  • Gaining a better understanding of drugs misuse and the relation this has to violent crime (an Independent Drugs Misuse Review has been launched);
  • The need for all parts of the public sector to prioritise tackling serious violence. There will be a new consultation on introducing a new statutory duty to combat violent crime and protect young people.

Child gang activity – a national safeguarding priority

The children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has called for child gang activity to be made a national safeguarding priority. Her report based on the study Keeping Kids Safe: Improving safeguarding responses to gang violence and criminal exploitation estimates that 27,000 children in England are in gangs of which only a quarter are known to children’s services or youth offending team. The report also estimates that 34,000 children, who are gang members or who know a gang member, have been victims of violent crime in the past year.

Longfield’s report calls for:

  • Joint inspections by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, the Police and probation inspectorates to be rolled out across England;
  • Greater emphasis on early years within the Serious Violence Strategy, with the Department for Education setting a clear target and plan for reducing the number of children beginning school with very low levels of development, along with a national plan for improving special educational needs identification in the early years;
  • More support from the NHS, to include better mental health support for children at risk of gang membership and exclusion; An urgent commitment to what will replace the soon-to-expire Troubled Families programme, alongside a long-term family-based approach to supporting children at risk of gang involvement;
  • Ensuring councils have enough resources to provide the youth and early help services required to meet the needs of children at risk.

The report also identifies a number of “early warning signs” that gang violence among children is rising which include:

  • Referrals to children’s services where gangs were identified as an issue rose by 26% between 2015/16 and 2016/17;
  • Permanent exclusions rose by 67% between 2012/13 and 2016/17;
  • Hospital admissions for children who have been assaulted with a sharp object rose 20% between 2015/16 and 2016/17;
  • The number of children cautioned/convicted for possession of weapons offences rose 12 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

The study also found that children in gangs were 95% more likely to have social and emotional health issues, were more than twice as likely to be self-harming, were 41% more likely to have a parent or carer misusing substances and were 8 times more likely to be misusing substances themselves.

Bradford Sexual Offences Convictions

Nine men, found guilty of a range of sexual offences against two young and vulnerable victims, have been sentenced at Bradford Crown Court to a total of more than 132 years.

The abuse began in 2008 when both girls (aged only 14) been placed in a children’s home run by Bradford Metropolitan District Council.  One victim was exploited by Basharat Khaliq over a three-year period with the other victim groomed and exploited by numerous men; including the other eight convicted defendants. The abuse of these two vulnerable victims continued after they left the care system to live independently.

The nine defendants were charged and convicted as follows:

  • Basharat Khaliq (38) of Allerton, Bradford: one charge of assault by penetration and five charges of rape. Guilty on all charges – sentence 20 years
  • Saeed Akhtar, (55) of Girlington, Bradford: two charges of causing or inciting child prostitution and one charge of rape. Guilty on all charges- sentence 20 years
  • Naveed Akhtar (43), of Manningham, Bradford: Guilty of two charges of rape and not guilty of one charge of rape- sentence 17 years
  • Parvaze Ahmed, (36) of Heaton, Bradford: guilty of three charges of rape- sentence 17 years
  • Izar Hussain, (32), of Girlington, Bradford: guilty of one charge of rape, not guilty to two charges of rape, and guilty of one charge of attempted rape- sentence 16 years
  • Kieran Harris, (28), of Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury: guilty of two charges of rape- sentence 17 years
  • Fahim Iqbal, (28), of no fixed abode: guilty of one charge of aiding and abetting rape- sentence 7 years
  • Mohammed Usman, (31), of Undercliffe, Bradford: guilty of two charges of rape- sentence 17 years
  • Zeeshan Ali, (32), Girlington, Bradford, guilty of one charge of sexual assault- sentence 18 months

Paula Craven from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “These two girls were deliberately targeted because of their vulnerability. Sadly, the exploitation followed a pattern which is all-too familiar in cases of this kind. These victims suffered an appalling catalogue of degrading emotional and sexual abuse which has deprived them of their childhood.”

Additional bans for former Eton Community Head Teacher

Following a Teaching Regulation Agency professional misconduct hearing, Sophie Rahman (former Head Teacher of Eton Community School in Ilford) can no longer hold a management position in a private school or be a state school governor. Rahman was previously banned from teaching for life after she allowed London Bridge attacker Khurum Butt to teach after school classes.

The panel found that Rahman knew or should have known that Butt, who had appeared on the documentary “The Jihadist Next Door” (Channel 4), was connected to members and former members of extremist jihadist organisation Al-Muhajiroun. Despite not having qualifications or experience and a caution for violence, Butt taught Qur’an at the school formerly known as Ad-Deen Primary School. The panel also found Rahman misled or attempted to mislead the Police and Local Authority about the number of children who attended Butt’s classes.

Butt was one of three men involved in the terrorist attack in London Bridge in June 2017, when eight people were killed and forty-eight injured. All three attackers were shot dead by police officers.

Eton Community School, an independent Muslim primary school, was closed in August 2017.

Domestic Abuse Victims – school priority?

A report produced by the charities Hestia and Pro Bono Economics is calling for an amendment to the draft Domestic Abuse Bill to make it easier for victims of domestic violence to transfer into another school if they have to move address. The report, which states that 500,000 children in the UK have been exposed to domestic violence, highlights that families escaping this abuse can struggle to get their children into another school. The report suggests that, similar to children in care or adopted from care, priority school places should be available to such children.

KCSIE 2018 Translated!

Educational not-for-profit organisation LGfL have translated KCSIE 2018 into ten languages including Polish, Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Portuguese and Spanish. Click here to access this fantastic resource.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 28th February 2019


Relationships and Sex Education- FGM

On Monday the DfE announced that the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) will be taught to all secondary school pupils. Included in the draft regulations presented in parliament this week for compulsory relationships and sex education (RSE), the new curriculum framework, if passed, will come into force from September 2020.

The new curriculum stipulates that secondary schools should;

  • address the physical and emotional damage caused by FGM
  • raise awareness of the support that is available
  • ensure pupils know that FGM is illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The head of the National FGM Centre, Leethen Bartholomew, has called for earlier intervention highlighting that most girls become victims of FGM at primary school age.

Bartholomew stated that the work of the FGM Centre has shown this can be done “in a child-centred way that can achieve the intended outcome of safeguarding children.”


Home Office

The Offensive Weapons Bill will make it harder for young people to buy knives online. New laws will require photo ID to be produced on receipt of knives bought online delivered to residential addresses. The Bill will also ban public and private possession of weapons such as zombie knives and knuckle dusters.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Last week we reported on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill. In further news HM Government is supporting the Bill with additional funding and increased capacity for services to support disabled, elderly and LGBT victims, recognising that domestic abuse occurs in all forms of relationships and that anyone can be a victim regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

In 2017 the Men’s Advice helpline, funded by the Home Office received 13,237 phone calls from male victims of domestic abuse.

All calls to the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline are confidential- 0808 2000 247.

Roman Catholic priest- guilty of child abuse

Father Francis McDermott, a 75-year old Roman Catholic Priest, has been found guilty of abusing 6 children in the 1970s and is due to be sentenced on 18 sex offences, which includes 15 indecent assaults. McDermott was also found guilty of 2 indecent assaults on a male and 1 charge of indecency with a child.

Whilst working in a number of different parishes in London, High Wycombe and Aylesbury between 1971 and 1979, the priest used his position to create friendships with families in order to gain the trust of children and sexually abuse them. McDermott is due to be sentenced next month.

In a speech made last week at a Vatican summit, Pope Francis stated that he wants the Catholic Church to “act decisively” to root out sexual abuse of children by priests.

Teacher banned following inappropriate social media use

A teacher who suggested a pupil send him pictures of his penis on Facebook has been banned from teaching. Benjamin Bird, the 37-year old pastoral lead at Bridge Learning Campus, has been banned from teaching following his inappropriate Facebook contact with pupils and former pupils. The teacher-conduct panel heard that Bird sent messages which included references to masturbation and a request for a pupil to send him a picture of his penis.

In Bird’s absence, the panel found him guilty of breaching professional standards and failing to observe proper boundaries appropriate to a teacher’s professional position. The panel’s report stated:

“The expressions he used in the messages were repeatedly of a sexual nature and we have found proved not only that the messages were sexual in nature, but also that Mr Bird sent them for the purposes of sexual gratification.”

Banned from teaching indefinitely and from teaching in any school, sixth-form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England, Bird has 28 days to appeal.

Anti-Slavery

Sara Thornton, a police officer with more than 30 years’ experience, has been appointed as the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

The role, effective from May 2019, has been created as part of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 with a UK-wide remit to give independent advice on modern slavery issues and how they should be tackled.

This includes:

  • encouraging good practice to drive an increase in the identification and protection of victims of modern slavery
  • ensuring the provision of enhanced support for all victims and survivors in the UK
    driving effective prevention of slavery and human trafficking offences
  • promoting an improved law enforcement and criminal justice response to modern slavery across the UK
  • engaging with the private sector and promote policies to ensure that supply chains are free of slavery
  • fostering constructive and targeted international collaboration to combat modern slavery

Thornton, who received the Queen’s Police Medal and was awarded a CBE in 2011 is “looking forward to bringing my long experience as a chief constable and in national policing to bear in this important role.”

Concerns can be made online or via the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 21st February 2019

Welcome to this week’s Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.

Draft Domestic Abuse Bill

The draft Domestic Abuse Bill will place police guidance on the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, known as Clare’s Law into legislation. Clare’s Law gives men and women the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them.

Currently the proposed Bill only applies to England and Wales. Scotland has previously passed legislation – the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018. Despite calls from some MPs, the draft Bill does not include Northern Ireland, which has a ban on abortions in almost all cases including rape and incest. As the 2017 collapse of the devolved executive and assembly (which have powers to govern the region) have not been resolved, if the draft Bill is passed in its current form women’s rights across the UK will not comply with the Istanbul Convention on human rights.

Counter-Terrorism & Border Security Update

The Counter-Terrorism & Border Security Act became law last week. The Act updates existing legislation for the digital age, increases sentences for certain offences, and creates a new power to investigate hostile state activity.

The main provisions included in the act are:

  • a new power to stop, question, search and detain an individual at a port or border area to determine whether they are, or have been, involved in hostile state activity
  • creating an offence of entering or remaining in an area outside the United Kingdom that has been designated by the Home Secretary if it is necessary for protecting the public from terrorism
  • updating the offence of obtaining information likely to be useful to a terrorist to cover material that is only viewed or streamed, rather than downloaded to form a permanent record
  • an increase to the maximum penalty for certain preparatory terrorism offences to 15 years’ imprisonment
  • extending the offence of inviting support for a proscribed organisation (Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the Home Secretary may proscribe an organisation or group if they believe it is concerned in terrorism. Under UK law such proscribed organisations / groups are banned)
  • a requirement for terrorist offenders to provide additional information to the police in line with what registered sex offenders must provide
  • establishing an independent review of Prevent, the government’s strategy for supporting those vulnerable to radicalisation

Former academy proprietor barred

Following his conviction of terrorist offences, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, the former proprietor of the unlicensed Islamic school Siddeeq Academy in Tower Hamlets, has been barred by the DfE from taking management positions in independent schools, academies or free schools. Under the order, Rahman is also disqualified from undertaking a maintained school governance role.

The published prohibition direction cites Rahman’s unsuitability to take part in the management of an independent school due to his conviction of relevant offences including:

  • inciting racial hatred contrary to Section 18 of the Public Order Act 1986 in 2006
  • solicitation to murder contrary to Section 4 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 in 2007
  • inviting support for a proscribed organisation contrary to Section 12 of the Terrorism Act in 2016

The direction also cited Rahman’s engagement in social media activity, aimed at undermining fundamental British values, as inappropriate.

Call for tougher sentencing- child cruelty cases

A Bill, introduced by Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat to give judges the power to increase and/or impose life sentences in cases of child cruelty, will progress to its second reading. Currently in child cruelty cases the maximum sentence is 10 years, or 14 years if death is caused.

Tugendhat introduced the Bill, known as Tony’s Law, following the child cruelty conviction of Jody Simpson and Antony Smith, each jailed for the maximum 10 years in 2014. Their 41-day old baby suffered life-changing injuries including fractures to both thighbones and lower legs, a dislocated fracture to his right lower leg and ankle, and fractures to the base of the left thumb and two bones in the big toe. Tony was close to death with multiple organ failure when finally taken to hospital, his parents having delayed seeking help stating that ‘they were waiting on a plumber’. The attack was so severe that surgeons had to amputate both his legs. Tony is also partially deaf as a result of the attack.

If successful, the Bill would bring child cruelty sentencing powers more into line with serious assaults on adults.

Children of alcoholic parents

Amid rising drug and alcohol related hospital admissions, MPs are calling for urgent funds to reduce the risk posed to the UK’s 2.6m children of alcoholic parents. Nearly 60% of Local Authorities cut drug and alcohol treatment budgets for adults last year. Following a freedom of information (FOI) request from Local Authorities, the all-party group on children of alcoholics, chaired by Liam Byrne MP whose father died from alcoholism, is calling for a reversal of the budget cuts.

The FOI data revealed that last year Local Authorities cut treatment services by 4% nationwide which may explain the increase in hospital admissions (335,215 in 2017/18) for alcohol related conditions, Local Authorities reported a projected spend of £507m for 2018/19, a reduction from £526m in 2017/18. 4 Local Authorities admitted reducing budgets by £1.5m each, while 16 trimmed £500,000 from services.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 15 feb 2019

Welcome to this week’s Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.

FGM Bill Stalls

Sir Christopher Chope, the conservative MP who hit the headlines last year when he objected to a ban on upskirting, once again is facing criticism. Colleagues and social media have expressed outrage at the MPs objection to the private members bill on FGM which would have allowed the courts to make interim care orders under the Children Act, in cases where children are believed to be at risk of FGM. Under parliamentary rules, it only requires one MP to shout ‘object’ to a private member’s bill which is listed for a second reading but not debated to block its progress. Click here to see our Safeguarding Director Sam Preston’s comments.

Upskirting

The Voyeurism (Offences) (No.2) Bill, known colloquially as the Upskirting Bill, received Royal Assent on 12 February 2019. It becomes the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 and will come into force on 12 April 2019. The act adds two new offences to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to cover the practice known colloquially as ‘upskirting’.

The new offences apply in instances when:

  • Without consent, an individual operates equipment or records an image beneath a person’s clothing to observe their genitalia or buttocks, whether covered or uncovered by underwear garments.
  • The offender has a motive of either obtaining sexual gratification or causing humiliation, distress or alarm to the victim.

The Act also ensures that the most serious offenders, where the purpose of the offence is for sexual gratification, are made subject to notification requirements (often referred to as being placed on the ‘sex offenders register’).

Duty of Care

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, has published proposed content to inform HM Government’s new legislation on online service provider’s statutory Duty of Care. The commissioner’s proposals include measures to ensure Facebook, Instagram and other online providers take reasonable and proportionate care to protect children from harm. Longfield also proposes sanctions for breaches of duty of care including financial penalties and publication of such breaches on their platforms.

Increase in vulnerable children suicides

Figures published by Ofsted reveal that the number of suicides among children who are in care or are known to social services as being at risk of abuse or neglect has increased by more than 30 per cent last year, a total of 46 children took their own lives in 2017/18. In reality the figures could actually be higher as Local Authorities are required to notify Ofsted within five days of a child death occurring, when the precise cause of death may be unclear. There is no requirement to update Ofsted once a cause of death has been established. The statistics show that, although there was an increase in suicides, the overall number of child deaths remained relatively constant with 209 cases in 2017/18, compared with 211 in the previous year.

Prevent Duty

In a recent blog, Chief Constable Simon Cole (national police lead for Prevent) welcomes the independent review of the Prevent programme. In his blog Cole states now is the time for hard fact, not twisted fiction.

Surge in Home Educated Children

In response to statistics which show levels of home educated children having doubled over the last five years, Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England has called for a compulsory Local Authority register. Her report Skipping School: Invisible Children cites that in 2018 up to 60,000 children are known to have been home educated in England which included high numbers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The report raises concerns that illegal pupil ‘off-rolling’ may be behind the increase. Off-rolling is where schools actively seek to remove challenging or poorly performing students from the roll by encouraging parents to take up home schooling.

A survey conducted by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services found that one in ten children, 11 per cent, of home-schooled children are known to children’s social care either currently or historically.

Mental Health Assessments

The previously delayed pilot ‘Mental health assessments for looked-after children’ will commence in June 2019. Assessments will be piloted in 10 local authorities, each site receiving a share of £650,000 to deliver the scheme. The scheme includes training and toolkits, consultant support and access to ‘a community of practice to share learning’.

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Please feel free to share our e-Bulletin. We are passionate about the role we play in safeguarding children and the more people that know about it the better. They can sign up to our Thursday safeguarding e-Bulletin by clicking here.

FGM

I am a stickler for policy and procedures, just ask my team. That said I was dismayed that, less than a week after the UK landmark first FGM conviction, Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope objected to the Private Members Bill on FGM. Progress of the Bill, which would have allowed the courts to make interim care orders under the Children Act in cases where children are believed to be at risk of FGM, was blocked for a second reading by the MP. (Under parliamentary rules, it only requires one MP to shout ‘object’ to a Private Member’s Bill which is listed for a second reading but not debated to block its progress).

From his comments it appears Chope’s objection to the bill, which had already cleared the House of Lords, was not made with regard to its content but to promote his own agenda around ensuring parliamentary debate. What’s so very disappointing is that the Member for Christchurch places more importance on his own agenda than measures that can safeguard children. In an article in The Telegraph, Chope cites his reason for blocking the bill. Namely that the same principle of one-day debate, which happens at second reading of HM Government Bills, should apply to Private Members Bills. But here’s where I’m confused- if indeed his actions were taken on procedural principle then surely he should be objecting to all Private Members Bills. This is the second time the MP has objected to safeguarding legislation- last year he used the same process to block a ban on upskirting.

Despite condemnation of Chope’s action from colleagues across the House, sadly it is unlikely the bill will now become law unless it is attached to another piece of legislation. Let’s hope the widespread condemnation of Chope’s conduct will prompt HM Government to take action.

Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 08 feb 2019

Welcome to this week’s Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.

FGM

Last week, in a landmark case, the UK saw the first successful Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) conviction. The case was the fourth FGM prosecution brought to court in the UK, the previous cases having all led to acquittals.

The 37-year old mother from east London was convicted at the Old Bailey of mutilating her three-year-old daughter. Evidence presented revealed the woman had coached her daughter to lie to the police, however, specialist investigators secured a true account from the child, necessary to secure the conviction. Evidence of witchcraft was also reported to have been found following a search of the woman’s home. Remanding the woman (who cannot be named for legal reasons) into custody, Mrs Justice Whipple warned of a lengthy jail term. The woman is due to be sentenced on 8 March 2019.

This first conviction came prior to yesterday’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, where activities and events were held to promote the UN’s campaign to raise awareness and educate people about the dangers FGM.

County Lines

Last week the National Crime agency reported to the Home Affairs Committee on the updated statistics for county lines. The report details the number of ‘county line’ drug distribution networks which are active in the UK, showing a significant increase since 2017.

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill

Last week members of the House of Commons voted to pass the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill to the House of Lords. The Bill, written following concerns that the current Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty takes too long to obtain information from data companies, builds on the offer made by the previous Obama administration. If passed, the Bill will enable law enforcement agencies to seek UK court orders to obtain data from data companies including Facebook and Google to aid investigations where terrorism and child abuse is suspected.

Steiner Schools

The concerns Amanda Spielman (Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Ofsted) previously raised with Damien Hinds MP (Secretary of State for Education) over safeguarding in Steiner schools have been confirmed following further scrutiny. In a letter to the Education Secretary, Spielman stated “the children attending them are inadequately safeguarded and are receiving a poor quality of education”.

Findings were based on:

  • six full inspections of independent Steiner schools.
  • three full inspections of Steiner academies (two converted from initial short inspections).
  • one section 8 inspection of a Steiner academy.
  • one social care inspection of boarding facilities at an independent Steiner school.
  • monitoring of two School Inspection Service (SIS) inspections of Steiner schools.

One of the inspected schools, the Steiner Academy Bristol, rated inadequate with serious concerns about the quality of teaching and pupil safety, is set to launch a legal challenge regarding Ofsted’s report, which has placed the school in special measures.

Supreme Court Judgement on DBS disclosures

The Supreme Court has ruled the disclosure of youth reprimands to employers as unlawful in a land mark case.

Judges found such disclosures as “directly inconsistent” with the purpose of the DBS processes and found such disclosures to be a breach of the right to privacy.

The judgment states that the disclosure of reprimands and cautions is disproportionate and damaging to the future rehabilitation of children, preventing them from moving on from their past. A previous parliamentary inquiry reached the same conclusion, stating that children were being unfairly denied a second chance. The Supreme Court judgement will lend weight to the call for HM Government to conduct a review of the disclosure regime, to prevent children and young people being given a caution thereby having a criminal record that stigmatises them for life.

The judgment states that the disclosure of reprimands and cautions is disproportionate and damaging to the future rehabilitation of children, preventing them from moving on from their past. A previous parliamentary inquiry reached the same conclusion, stating that children were being unfairly denied a second chance. The Supreme Court judgement will lend weight to the call for HM Government to conduct a review of the disclosure regime, to prevent children and young people being given a caution thereby having a criminal record that stigmatises them for life.

Blackpool Children’s Services

Previously rated as requires improvement, Blackpool Children’s Services have been downgraded to inadequate. The latest Ofsted report on Blackpool Children’s Services highlights specific concerns regarding the quality of decision-making when referrals are made and recognition when children are at risk of harm in exploitation cases.

Disability Hate Crime

MPs on the Petitions Committee have called for HM Government to give disabled people protection under hate crime laws. Over 220,000 people have supported the petition led by model Katie Price, who has highlighted trolling about her son Harvey’s disabilities, to make this form of online abuse a criminal offence. Petitions Committee Chair Helen Jones stated social media is rife with horrendous, degrading and dehumanising comments about people with disabilities, adding that the law on online abuse is not fit for purpose and it is truly shameful that disabled people have been forced off social media while their abusers face no consequences.

In a report published last week, MPs made a string of recommendations which includes giving disabled people the same protections under hate crime laws as those who suffered abuse due to race or religion. This includes a similar check to that used for child sex offenders to make it possible to see whether someone had been convicted of a hate crime on the grounds of disability before employing them.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 01 feb 2018

Our free Safeguarding e-Bulletins will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news and are sent via e-mail at 6.30a.m. every Thursday and then posted here on the following day. To subscribe to the e-bulletin and get the latest news first, please click here.

Offensive weapon possession

The Offensive Weapons Bill will make it harder for young people to buy knives and acid online. The Bill will also ban private possession of weapons such as zombie knives and knuckle dusters.

Independent Inquiry

Findings of the Independent inquiry following the conviction of Wrexham Tennis Centre former head coach Dan Sanders, jailed in 2017 after admitting sexual activity with a 15-year-old player, reveal the Lawn Tennis Association repeatedly missed warnings about bullying and sexually inappropriate behaviour. View our blog post.

Draft Domestic Abuse Bill published

The draft Domestic Abuse Bill published this month introduces new safeguarding measures to protect victims. The draft bill proposes restrictions on the actions of offenders through the introduction of Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders.
If passed in its current form it will also prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts, and provide automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts.

Child sexual abuse in the family environment

New guidance has been published to support Joint targeted area inspections (JTAIs) on the theme of child sexual abuse in the family environment.
JTAIs are a crucial element of safeguarding practice, evaluating initial response, the quality and impact of planning and decision-making to all forms of child abuse, neglect and exploitation. The process also includes a ‘deep dive’ investigation to evaluate children and young people’s experiences.

The Children’s Commissioner 2014 inquiry into child sexual abuse in the family environment (published in November 2015) included the following key findings:
• The estimated proportion of children that suffer sexual abuse is about 11%.
• Two thirds of child sexual abuse takes place within the family environment or the close circle around it.
• Only one in eight children in England who are sexually abused come to the attention of statutory authorities.
• Children often do not recognise that they have been abused until they are older. Professionals working with children need additional support to help them identify victims of sexual abuse.
• Child sexual abuse in the family environment often comes to the attention of statutory and non-statutory agencies as a result of a secondary presenting factor, for example self-harm, which becomes the focus of intervention. Child sexual abuse, the underlying issue, may not be identified.

Stark statistics which reinforce the need for vigilance and effective multi-agency working.

New Joint targeted area inspection themes announced

In December, Ofsted announced three new additional JTAI themes.
The new themes include:
• Children living with mental health issues.
• Prevention and early intervention.
• Older children in need of help and protection, and contextual safeguarding, including exploitation.

Over 100,000 web pages of children being abused were removed by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) from the internet in 2018 – a third more than in the previous year.

The pages, viewed and assessed by IWF analysts, included thousands of pictures and videos of abuse, with 1,300 pages showing abuse of infants or babies and more than 40,000 depicting abuse or sexual torture of children under 10. The IWF report nearly all viewed pages were hosted outside the UK.

Members of the public can anonymously and confidentially report child sexual abuse content and non-photographic child sexual abuse images to the IWF.

Ofsted consultation- EIF 2019

The message in the latest School inspection update: academic year 2018 to 2019, updated this month, reinforces Sean Harford’s, National Director Education, message that ‘data should not be ‘king’.

Ofsted are encouraging all staff working in education to reflect on the proposed new framework. In response to a tweet by our Safeguarding Director Sam Preston, Mr Harford agreed it was also important for those who externally support nurseries, schools, academies and colleges to also input into the review process.  Responding to the consultation, our Safeguarding Team welcome the focus of applying evidence-based research to the review process however, the published list of cited research offers little in terms of safeguarding best practice. The consultation closes 5th April 2019.​

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Will lessons be learned?

Findings from the independent inquiry into one of the leading tennis centres has revealed the sport’s governing body, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), failed in their response to repeated warnings about bullying and sexual abuse.

The inquiry was commissioned by the LTA following the conviction of former Wrexham Tennis Centre head coach Daniel Saunders, jailed following his admission to eight counts of sexual activity with a player under 16-years. The inquiry report criticised both the LTA and Wrexham Tennis Centre, finding they had acted “inadequately” before Sunders was arrested and that they had failed to recognise safeguarding concerns.

In clear breech of safeguarding policy and practice, it is unthinkable that the extreme culture of ‘laddish behaviour’ Saunders created within the club, was not deemed a safeguarding risk, even after an internal investigation into his behaviour in 2012. It seems very odd that following the internal investigation, which found there were no child protection risks, clear glass was then installed to the window of Saunders’ office- presumably as a safeguarding measure? Sadly, Saunders simply covered the window in posters, using the office to later abuse his victim.

As a practitioner I find it unbelievable that the behaviours descried and reported by parents, which included coaches using sexually explicit language when on court with children, showing pornography to boys under the age of 12 and bullying of girls about their physical appearance (a parent reported that her daughter was called a “hefty elephant” and told that she (the girl) would “never get a boyfriend because of the way she looked”) were not taken seriously or addressed as abuse.

LTA chief executive, Scott Lloyd states lessons have been learned and that the LTA is “concerned that opportunities to act were missed” apologising to all those affected regarding this case. But one still has to seriously question the LTA’s action following the inquiry’s findings. Yes, a critical review of policy and strategy is essential, it always is following a serious incident, but what this case highlights is a failure to embed best safeguarding practice and have ongoing evaluation of that practice at its core. The actions of Saunders were abhorrent but so too was the culture he developed within Wrexham Tennis centre participated in by others.