Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 7th Nov 2019

Welcome to our Safeguarding e-Bulletin, keeping you up-to-date with all safeguarding news, information and updates. Between publications you can also get in the moment updates on safeguarding news by following us on Twitter @SSSlearning and my commentary on @Sam_SSSLearning

As I hope you know, at SSS Learning we really value your feedback and ideas on how we can further develop our service – we love your suggestions so keep them coming! 

Recently one of our schools asked if we could develop a service on our platform that would allow them to direct staff to read their bespoke policy documents, or any other publications, and provide evidence to track they had been accessed.

We thought this was a great idea so we’ve done it. You can now create a library of links and individually direct each member of staff to the documents relevant to them / their role.

To access this part of the service simply click on the ‘your policy documents’ button in the ‘your account’ section at the bottom of the admin dashboard follow the instructions to input links to your documents (for example on your school/academy website) then follow the instructions to issue an email to your team asking them to read the documents.

As soon as the documents are read by each team member this will be evidenced in the ‘show other reports‘ section accessed from your admin dashboard.

We’d love to hear what you think of this new resource, included at no extra cost, and if you have any ideas for further enhancing the system please contact us at:”

In the news:

Huddersfield grooming gang: guilty of multiple sex offences against young girls

Six members of a West Yorkshire grooming gang, convicted of multiple sexual offences against young girls in Huddersfield between 2005 and 2007, were sentenced last week.

The convictions were secured following Operation Tendersea, a police investigation into the systematic sexual exploitation of young and vulnerable girls in the Huddersfield area between 2004 and 2010.

Umar Zaman, 31, and Samuel Fikru, 32, were both found guilty of two counts of rape, each receiving a sentence of eight years. Zaman, who has previous convictions including burglary, drugs supply, violence and racially-aggravated offences, is currently on the run and believed to be in Pakistan. Fikru, who has previous convictions for sexual assaults and battery, was found guilty of two attacks on the same girl.

Three other men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were also found guilty and sentenced:

A 32-year-old man jailed for fourteen years for five counts of rape against two girls, which included raping one victim orally at knifepoint and another girl who he left lying bleeding in a park after taking her virginity; Another 32-year-old man jailed for eight years for raping a teenage girl outside near to a school; A 38-year-old man jailed for seven years for attempting to rape a teenage girl, who was wearing her school uniform, behind a shop.

A sixth man, 36-year-old defendant Banaris Hussain, also found guilty of raping a “particularly vulnerable” girl when others were present and abusing her at the same time, was sentenced to ten years this week.

The successful prosecutions and convictions are the culmination of over four years’ close collaboration between West Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The evidence, submitted to the CPS following an intensive and complex police investigation, included hours of detailed victim evidence against a large number of potential suspects.

Michael Quinn from the CPS said: “This case involved the cynical exploitation of a number of young girls by a group of predatory men in the Huddersfield area. These men deliberately targeted vulnerable children. The men cynically groomed and exploited children for their own sexual gratification, drawing them into a dark and sordid world in which they had little or no control over their lives. Throughout, the men cared only for themselves and viewed the girls as objects to be used and abused at will. At the heart of this case are the victims. They have all suffered trauma as a result of their childhood abuse. They have all shown immense courage in coming forward to assist the investigation and support the prosecution case.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard McNamara, West Yorkshire Police, said: “We welcome the sentencing of these six men for offences which can only be described as depraved.

Nursery licence suspended following sexual offence arrest

Following a number of unannounced visits last month, Ofsted have suspended the licence of Jack and Jill Childcare in Torquay. The visits to the nursery were carried out by the regulator following the arrest of a male employee, who is being currently being questioned on suspicion of multiple sexual offences.

The male suspect was arrested after a child alerted parents to an alleged incident. Having reviewed more than 250 hours of CCTV footage recorded within the nursery setting, Devon and Cornwall Police have launched a “major investigation” having also identified a number of additional potential victims aged between two and five.

To date officers have contacted around 100 families of children who attended the nursery, however have stressed that not all of these contacts have been made to identify potential victims. 

Acting Detective Chief Inspector James Stock, Devon and Cornwall Police, said contact with the suspect appeared to be “limited to within the nursery setting and we do not believe that any other member of staff had knowledge of these matters. These appear to be the actions of a lone individual and the offences do not involve the taking or distributing of any images.”

The male suspect is under strict bail conditions until 22 November.

(Note: SSS Learning has produced a Child Protection course, designed to meet the statutory requirements of KCSIE (2019), which is bespoke to supporting non-maintained nursery settings. You may wish to share this link with your feeder nurseries).

Child Abuse offences reach an all-time high

New figures, as a result of NSPCC Freedom of Information (FOI) requests sent to police forces, state that in the year 2018-2019 there were 76,204 recorded sexual offences against children in the UK – a 60% increase on the previous year. The offences recorded included grooming, sexual assault and rape with 16,773 offences recorded against children 10 and under. This included 341 offences against babies under the age of 1. 

Statistics obtained by the NSPCC also report that a child abuse image offence is recorded every 7 minutes in the UK. 

Times investigation links trafficking and private education

An investigation carried out by The Times claims that private schools are making hundreds of thousands of pounds from Vietnamese children who are entering Britain on student visas then subsequently disappearing.

The investigation carried out by the newspaper found that children thought to be as young as 15 are being brought to the UK by suspected trafficking gangs through legitimate visas sponsored by private schools. It uncovered at least 21 Vietnamese children, in Britain on Tier 4 child visas, have vanished from boarding schools and private colleges in the past 4 years including 8 children who have gone missing from the £25,000-a-year Chelsea Independent College, the west London school owned by the for-profit body Astrum Education. Astrum Education Group stated it had been targeted by “organised criminal activity” and has reviewed safeguarding procedures. 

All the schools and colleges identified in the investigation followed protocol and reported the disappearances to police and the Home Office. 

APPG calls for review of school exclusion

A cross-party group of MPs, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on knife crime, has called for a review of school exclusions as evidence presented revealed that children outside of mainstream schools are at serious risk of grooming and exploitation by criminal gangs. A report produced by the APPG is calling for a government-led review to examine why many excluded children do not get the full-time education they are legally entitled to and calls for an end to part-time education for excluded pupils. 

Crucially the report calls for measures to make mainstream schools more accountable for the children they exclude. Under current legislative powers, if proposed action by a parent / guardian is deemed to place a child at further risk then social care action can be taken to prevent this action in order to safeguard and protect the child. However, there are no legislative measures in place to prevent exclusions when social care deems such action may increase the contextual safeguarding risk to a child.

Exclusion background statistics:

  • In England, there were 7,900 permanent exclusions in 2017/18 – a 70% increase since 2012/13;
  • APPG research has found that a third of local authorities in England do not have spaces in their pupil referral units (PRUs) for excluded children. (Young people who do secure a place are sometimes only taught for a couple of hours each day, with a restricted curriculum of just English and Maths);
  • Young people receiving free school meals are about four times more likely to be permanently excluded from school;
  • young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are over five times more likely to be excluded permanently;
  • children with SEND make up an alarmingly high percentage of all children who are excluded – 44.9 of permanent exclusions and 43.4 % of fixed-period exclusions in 2017/18;
  • There were 47,513 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the year ending June 2019 across England and Wales – a 44% increase since March 2011.
  • Home Office statistics (2019) show that more than 17,500 boys aged 14 carry a knife or weapon in England and Wales; a third of those arming themselves have had weapons used against them.

Chair of the APPG, Sarah Jones, said:

“The number of children being excluded from school and locked out of opportunities is a travesty. They are easy pickings for criminal gangs looking to exploit vulnerable children. Excluding children must be a last resort. Our fight against this knife crime epidemic must start from the principle that no child is left behind. Schools and local authorities must be supported by government to do this.”

The link between school exclusions and knife crime has previously been raised by the cross-party youth violence commission.

DfE Direction Notice for Stoke Children’s Services

Stoke City Council Children’s Services, rated inadequate by Ofsted in February this year, have until January next year to identify another council with which it can enter into a formal partnership to help turn around provision. In their judgement following the last inspection, Ofsted warned that vulnerable children were not being safeguarded. A DfE-appointed commissioner of children’s services, Eleanor Brazil, was placed at the authority to determine how improvements could be made.

Her report for the Minister of State for Children and Families has found that the council does not have the capacity to make the necessary improvements on its own. Whilst recognising Stoke on Trent as an area of high deprivation with a high proportion of children living in poverty in some areas in the city and that the council have a number of strategic plans in place, the report found that those “relating to children do not seem to have driven improvements in the support and care for the most vulnerable children in the city.” Brazil also warned that the issues at Stoke are so significant that it is likely to take at least 2 years to see improvements in services

By 31 January 2020 the authority must have an agreed formal partnership arrangement with a strong local authority to deliver all of its children’s social care services functions. Whilst such a partnership is being sought the council will receive support from Stockport and Essex Children’s Services Departments, both part of the DfE Partners in Practice programme.

Children’s services in St Helens downgraded to “inadequate”

Children’s services in St Helens Metropolitan Council have been downgraded, rated “inadequate” for “widespread and serious failures” in the quality of services for looked-after children and care leavers.

Previously rated as “requires improvement” in 2014, services were subject to an Ofsted focussed visit focussing on children in need and child protection services in 2018 which criticised the department. The most recent inspection, carried out in September this year, found that while children that required help and protection were not at risk of immediate harm those in care experienced “significant drift and delay“.

Parental Controls Resource

Although the report produced by the Office of Communications (Ofcom) still identifies mainstream TV channels as the most common way we watch television, it cannot be denied that the world of online streaming is a growing medium offering access to a multitude of films, box sets and programmes. With so many options and such variety of choice it is increasingly difficult for parents to ensure they can monitor and regulate what their children are watching. 

To help we’ve produced a quick guide with links to the most popular online streaming services which you may like to place on your website. Simply use the following link.

Please do let us know what you think of the e-Bulletin:

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 safeguarding e-Bulletin by clicking here.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here

Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 24th October 2019

Welcome to our Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.

800% Increase in Modern Slavery Referrals

National Crime Agency statistics reveal that the number of children being identified as potential victims of modern slavery has increased by more than 800% since 2014. The rise in the number of local authority referrals using the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) has been linked to the growing phenomenon of “county lines” gang association.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA), the spiralling referral rates are being fuelled by both an increased awareness of modern slavery and by young people being exploited by “county lines” drugs gangs.

Currently, local authorities do not receive specific funding to help tackle modern slavery and support its victims. Chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, Simon Blackburn, said:

“The spiralling rate of council referrals, especially relating to children who face specific risks through county lines drug trafficking or child sexual exploitation, is having a huge impact on overstretched council services, particularly children’s services.”

Whilst acknowledging that the planned additional funding allocated for 2020 will help, Blackburn reiterated that HM Government needs to consider ensuring local authorities have adequate long-term resources to tackle this type of abuse, support its victims, as well as creating a sustainable NRM system.

“County Lines” Crackdown

More than 700 people have been arrested this month and more than £400,000-worth of drugs were confiscated following a week of coordinated police activity designed to crackdown on “county lines” gangs.

As a result, 49 “deal lines” across the UK were disrupted and 169 weapons seized which included 12 guns, knives, swords and machetes. A total of £253,200-worth of cocaine, £100,170-worth of crack cocaine and £72,670-worth of heroin was also seized. As part of the operation led by the National County Lines Coordination Centre (NNCLCC), 389 vulnerable adults and 292 children were safeguarded with 41 individuals were referred to the NRM for assessment as potential victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.

In the ongoing strategy to combat “county lines”, further operations have been carried out last week. Stop checks and vehicle searches enabled Dorset Police to make 26 arrests, and seize drugs and money from dealers who were exploiting young people to sell them.

In Cheshire, police officers made twelve arrests and executed several warrants. Cash, mobile phones and weapons were also recovered with seizures of heroin, crack cocaine and cannabis. As part of the operation police also visited twenty-five addresses to offer support to vulnerable adults, thought to be targets of exploitation by organised crime groups.

In an attempt to disrupt suspected “County Lines” criminal activity across Merseyside, eleven people from Wirral were arrested on suspicion of drug supply and other offences during a week of action. More than 20 potentially vulnerable people were also identified, with various safeguarding measures put in place.

Serious Violence

Over the last few months there has been an increased police and media focus on serious violence, exploitation and criminality involving children and young people. In addition to our “County Lines” and Child Sexual Exploitation courses, we will shortly be releasing our Serious Violence training course. The course examines the drivers into criminality, particularly knife crime and gang association, and explores the supportive role schools and academies can play in preventing and deterring children and young people’s involvement.

Call for compulsory visits to help disadvantaged families

Health visitors are calling for an increase in the number of statutory visits they make to better support disadvantaged families. Currently 5 mandatory visits are carried out when a mother is 24 weeks pregnant, in the first 2 weeks of their child’s birth then at 6 to 8 weeks from birth. Another check is required when their child is between 9 to 12 months old and then finally at two years old.

The Institute of Health Visiting (IHV) is calling for an additional 3 mandatory visits enabling further checks at 3 to 5 weeks, 3 to 4 months and between the ages of three and five. As outlined in their report, the final check will have a specific focus on “school readiness”, enabling health visitors to spot speech and language as well as communication issues before a child starts school and signpost to specialist support if needed.

Mental Health Risks

Two reports have been released this month outlining the mental health risks that children and young people face and the action needed to help them lead happy lives.

According to the Department for Education report, 5% of 10- to 15-year-olds feel unhappy and 3% of 16- to 24-year-olds report low satisfaction with their life. The report also looks at how bullying, particularly online abuse, is impacting on young people’s mental health.

The report states that “experiences of being bullied, including online bullying, was the risk factor most strongly associated” with mental health in mid to late teenagers. Latest crime statistics reveal that 17% of 10- to 15-year-olds in England reported being bullied in 2017/18. The report also states that younger children are particularly at risk, as “the prevalence of bullying decreased as children got older”, and that white children are among the most at risk of bullying groups.

The report also focuses on how teenage girls’ mental health can be better supported. The report found that getting enough sleep was a “consistent protective factor” for girls aged between 14 and 18.

An additional report published by Carers Trust offers a guide on how professionals can better support young people and their families. The report also focuses on the important role siblings can play in providing valuable mental health support.

The report also highlights concern about the “culture of parent blaming when a child develops a mental health need”, urging health services to better understand the impact on parents of being a carer for a child with additional needs.

A new £10m research centre, dedicated to adolescent mental health, is aiming to influence better policy in schools. The Wolfson Centre for Young People’s Mental Health, based at Cardiff University, will study how problems such as anxiety and depression arise in young people with the aim of developing more effective interventions.

Funded by The Wolfson Foundation, the centre will also undertake a study involving schools examining the role they play in promoting positive mental health.

DfE Relationships Education Guidance

On the 10th of October the DfE published new guidance for primary head teachers, setting out why they must engage parents on their school’s relationships education policy with tips on how to do this. From next September 2020 all primary schools will need to teach Relationships and Health Education, and secondary schools will start teaching Relationships, Sex and Health Education.

The guidance also provides more information on the central support the DfE will be putting in place for all schools.

Produced in partnership with in partnership with the NAHTNGA and ASCL. the resource provides information on what is expected of schools and why, alongside tips and case studies on effective parental consultation. It also includes information on where to go for help, and the important role Governors and trustees can play in this process.

Safeguarding Children in Sport

A new study from the European Commission has been published highlighting the importance of sporting organisations to have adequate safeguards in place to prevent children being harmed and bullied.

There is widespread evidence on the positive benefits of regular sport participation such as improved physical and mental wellbeing, personal and educational development and social inclusion. However, recent cases of violence and abuse of children in the media have highlighted the importance of ensuring organisations offering sport to young people implement adequate safeguarding procedures to reduce the risks of children being harmed. This study provides a mapping of initiatives in the EU and includes a series of best practice examples at national and international level.

We are pleased to announce that a new SSS Learning course, Safeguarding Children in Sport, is currently in production and due for release later this year. The course is designed to support organisations offering sporting activities, independent sports coaches and parents undertaking supporting or instructional roles in activities.

Please do let us know what you think of the e-Bulletin:

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 safeguarding e-Bulletin by clicking here.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here

Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 10th October 2019

Welcome to our Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.

Knife crime- FOI reveals top 25 most dangerous cities

Over recent months, the increase in knife crime has become a common focus of news coverage with London featuring as one of the most dangerous cities with almost 15,000 knife crimes recorded last year. However latest analysis of police statistics suggests the rate of knife attacks in regional towns and cities is higher than in many of the London boroughs.

Data collected from 34 police forces, obtained by the BBC from a Freedom of Information Request, reveals that serious knife crime offences are rising sharply, exceeding London borough figures, in other cities. Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Blackpool and Slough are within the top 25 most dangerous cities in England and Wales for serious knife crime.

The data also reveals a worrying upward trend across other regional areas, such as Lancashire where knife crime offences have doubled over the last five years (981 offences in 2018 compared to 455 in 2014). As police crime statistics are collected differently in Scotland it is only possible to measure knife possession, also on the increase with more than 2,300 crimes reported in 2018. The safest areas, with less than one crime per 10,000 people, includes Dorset, Monmouthshire the Cotswolds and Malvern.

Last year, almost half of all suspects in serious knife crime offences in England and Wales, were aged 24 and under. Drugs gangs (including County Lines), school exclusion rates, poverty, unemployment and cuts to services are all factors blamed for a rise in youth violence. Deprivation is seen as a key factor in children and teenagers’ engagement in this behaviour, where they carry out illegal activity to support households. Blackpool, which Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures reveal has eight out of the ten of the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, is also listed in the top 25 most dangerous places for knife crime.

In 2018, 15% of knife crime suspects were female. It is thought that there may be deliberate recruitment of girls and young women being exploited to carry weapons because they are much less likely to be stopped and searched by police.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on tackling serious violent crime, Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, has blamed police funding cuts for the fall in charge rates saying:

“The large reduction in police funding since 2010 has meant fewer detectives with less time and a bigger workload taking on long investigations, meaning it can be more difficult to get a charge.”

According to a Home Office spokesperson, 20,000 new police officers will be recruited over the next three years and £10m in additional ring-fenced funding will allow forces to increase the number of officers carrying Tasers.

However, as reported in our last newsletter, there has been criticism of HM Government plans to introduce new laws to tackle knife crime. Children’s services leaders warn that controversial proposals such as Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs), may negatively impact on relationships between the police and local communities. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has also questioned what equality measures will be put in place to prevent a disproportionate increase in the use of KCPOs. (Half of young people in youth custody are from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities). The Association have also called for guidance to include details of circumstances in which it is deemed appropriate to seek an order without “tangible evidence” of knife carrying.

£20m funding for National County Lines Co-ordination Centre

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced a £20m funding package is to be made available to support child victims and disrupt “county lines” activity. The funding will be used to expand the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to offer a specialist support service for victims and their families. 

In her speech at the Conservative Party conference, the Home Secretary said the additional funding would stop gangs: “terrorising our towns and villages and exploiting our children”.

The extra money will be used to grow the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to increase its capacity at regional and national level, enabling it to employ extra officers and staff and offer strategic resources to regional organised crime units. Dedicated teams from the British Transport Police will also be based at railway stations across England, earmarked as key hubs for county lines drug trafficking. Investment will also be made in automatic number plate recognition to proactively target vehicles suspected of being used in “county lines” activity.

Since its launch a year ago, the centre has made more than 1,800 arrests and safeguarded 2,400 vulnerable people, of which more than 1,000 were children.

Scottish smacking ban

Scotland has become the first country in the UK to legislate and make it a criminal offence for parents to smack their children. The ban on all physical punishment, which was backed overwhelmingly by 84 votes to 29 by the Scottish Parliament this month, will give children in Scotland the same protection from assaults as adults. Under current Scots law, all physical attacks on adults can be treated as assault however children do not have the same protection. This is because a person accused of assaulting of a child can claim a defence of “reasonable chastisement” or “justifiable assault” when they have used physical force as a form of discipline on children under the age of 16.

The smacking ban bill was introduced by Scottish Green Party MSP John Finnie, a former police officer, who won the support of the SNP, Labour and Lib Dems as well as his own party and many children’s charities. Mr Finnie said the ban would “send a strong message that violence is never acceptable in any setting” stating there was “irrefutable” evidence of physical punishment damaging children, that it is not an effective form of discipline and that it can escalate into physical abuse. The ban was opposed by the Scottish Conservatives, who claimed the bill was bad legislation that risks criminalising “good parents” for using “reasonable chastisement”.

Sweden was the first country in the world to ban smacking in the home, Scotland is the 58th to do so. Whilst Wales is also on the verge of introducing a ban there are not currently any plans for England or Northern Ireland to follow suit. Northern Ireland has similar legal provisions to those currently in place in England and Wales. Ireland banned smacking in 2015.

New research project to support vulnerable children

The Economic and Social Research Council, ESRC, has launched a new £1.9m four-year research project aimed at finding better ways to protect vulnerable children from the threat of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and “county lines” drug dealing.

The project will investigate how local authority social care systems can improve their safeguarding work with vulnerable children. The project will examine the risks children and young people face in areas of criminal exploitation including CSE and gang association.

Abuse between children, known as peer-on-peer abuse, is another safeguarding issue the project will explore.

The overall aim of the evidence-based project is to gather information to assist local authorities better support and protect children and young people. The research will scrutinise the work of six councils focussing on three specific areas of safeguarding work:

Trauma-informed practice – the potentially long-lasting impact on young people’s mental health when dealing with adversity and trauma in their life;

Transitional safeguarding – safeguarding issues when young people are making the transition from childhood to adulthood;

Contextual safeguarding – an approach to understanding and responding to risk and young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families.

The project is being co-ordinated by academics at the University of Sussex, involving researchers at the University of Bedfordshire, which has developed work around contextual safeguarding over the last six years, together with Research in PracticeBecome and the Innovation Unit

On behalf of the University of Bedfordshire, contextual safeguarding programme head Dr Carlene Firmin MBE (who will directly work on the project) stated: 

“We are thrilled to be partnering others in this project at a critical point in the development of contextual safeguarding as more as areas beyond those with whom we are directly working – begin to take up and develop the approach.”

CAWNs used combat CSE & “County Lines”

In recent years Child Abduction Warning Notices (CAWNs) have become a valuable safeguarding tool. Now they are also being used in the fight against Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), particularly when served upon members of “county lines” criminal networks to prevent children being harboured.

CAWNs may be used by police and social workers as a preventative tool to protect children from people who may place them at risk. They can be an effective safeguarding measure in combatting potentially exploitative situations, such as inappropriate associations or relationships, for children who regularly go missing for periods of time and where there are risks of CSE. Colloquially known as “Harbourers Warnings”, CAWNs are issued as a warning to people believed to be harbouring children, alerting the respondent that authorities are aware of their involvement with a child.

As they are not within the remit of any legislative statute a breach of a notice is not in itself a criminal offence. Where breaches occur actual offences are dealt with through existing legislation such as Section 49 of the Children Act or Section 2 of the Child Abduction Act. However, CAWNs are proving to be an effective early warning deterrent measure and an important tool in combating increasing exploitative abuse such as “county lines”.

Domestic Abuse Bill moves a step closer to becoming law

As the Domestic Abuse Bill progresses on its pathway through parliament, local authorities have stated that investment in children’s services and prevention is crucial to the success of the revived Bill. 

Prior to the second reading in the House of Commons, the Local Government Association (LGA) stated: 

“In order for the bill to have real success in tackling domestic abuse and creating consistency of services, it must be underpinned by adequate, long-term funding in key services including children’s services and housing.”

The association is also advocating a cross-government approach for prevention of domestic violence and early intervention to the problem, involving Health, Housing and Education.

Former children’s minister Tim Loughton has also called for local domestic abuse commissioners to be appointed to ensure councils are protecting vulnerable children and families. Describing the current system of support as a “postcode lottery”, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham voiced support for the planned appointment of a national domestic abuse commissioner but also believes that local commissioners are also needed to ensure that councils are properly supporting children with experience of, or at risk of, living in violent households.

FGM- labia elongation

Here at SSS Learning we are dedicated to raising awareness of the practice known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and highlighting safeguarding protection against this type of abuse and support for victims. This week we are highlighting a form of FGM often misinterpreted or not recognised as a form of this harmful and dangerous practice- labia elongation.

Labia elongation or stretching is a cultural custom, originating and practiced in parts of Eastern and South Africa and countries in the South Pacific region. However, due to migration, this practice is a global safeguarding concern. In the UK it is practiced in migrant communities originating from areas where labia elongation is culturally accepted. The process is deemed by communities as a young girl’s rite of passage into womanhood.

In the main, the process of labia elongation starts between the ages of 8 to 14 prior to commencement of a girl’s menstruation cycle however it can continue into adulthood. If girls refuse to undertake the process they are often stigmatised, seen as less desirable and isolated by and from their communities.

The two to three-week process involves pulling or stretching the labia minora either manually or by using weights or harnesses. As detailed in World Health Organisation (WHO) information, the procedure is usually started by an elderly woman, designated to perform this task, by placing sticks of a special type to hold the stretched genital parts to prevent them reverting to their original size. The girl is then instructed to pull her genitalia every day to stretch the labia further, adding further sticks to hold the labia as it stretches.

As with other forms of FGM, the effects of labia elongation often severely affect health and wellbeing with symptoms including severe pain, open sores / ulcers, irritation, infection and psychological trauma.

Please do let us know what you think of the e-Bulletin:

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.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here

Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 27th September 2019

Welcome to our Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.

Former HM Government lawyer convicted for Upskirting

Yesterday, Daren Timson-Hunt has become the fourth person to be convicted of upskirting since it was made a crime under new UK legislation in April this year.

The 54-year-old former HM Government lawyer, who was charged with using his mobile phone “for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification”, pleaded guilty last week to “operating equipment” beneath another person’s clothing while at Embankment underground station in July this year.

The first person to be prosecuted under the new legislation was Salim Ahmed, a 33-year-old shop worker. Police observed Ahmed filming over a two-hour period on his phone at the entrance to Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park in north London. Some 16 recordings taken under women’s skirts or dresses were unearthed when his iPhone was confiscated. 

The second individual, Michael Adjetey, was also convicted after CCTV captured him taking photos at a TK Maxx store in Hackney in east London on two consecutive days in July. After being caught, the 28-year-old confessed he had taken hundreds of upskirting pictures.

Thomas Hetherington, 21, was the third person to be successfully convicted after seeking out his upskirting victim at a bus depot in Wakefield. His victim confronted him and directly reported him to the police for the new offence. Hetherington plead guilty in August.

Timson-Hunt was given a 2-year community order which includes a court ordered 35-day programme, 30 days rehabilitation and 60 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to join the sex-offenders register for five years and pay £175 in court costs and victim surcharge.

Social emergency- rising levels of youth violence

Following a recent recommendation of the cross-party Home Affairs Committee to respond to the “social emergency” caused by rising levels of youth violence, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner is calling for police officers and youth workers to be based in schools to help protect pupils from violence.

The report, Guess How Much We Love You- a Manifesto for Children, features key recommendations, which Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield urges all political parties to include in their upcoming general election manifestos. The manifesto recommendations are in response to increased concerns that children are being exposed to serious violence. The report highlights that “in more and more areas of the country, gangs operate openly in streets and parks, and groom increasingly younger children“. 

In addition to the placement of police and youth workers, the report also calls for the next government to:

  • have a child and adolescent mental health counsellor in every school;
  • adequately fund SEND, including pre-statutory support;
  • open schools during evenings, weekends and holidays to provide high quality youth support;
  • establish a cabinet committee for children.

Longfield is also calling for a further extension of the Troubled Families Programmetargeted intervention for families with multiple problems, including crime, anti-social behaviour, truancy, unemployment, mental health problems and domestic abuse, or an equivalent family support system. (The current funding commitment is to April 2021).

Knife crime curfews

In line with new HM Government proposals, curfews could be imposed on children to steer them away from knife crime. Under the proposals, courts in England and Wales will get extra civil powers to tackle concerns about those suspected of carrying bladed weapons and serious violence.

New Home Office draft guidance, as part of the Offensive Weapons Act, reveal plans to introduce Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs). The planned orders can be imposed on any person aged 12 or over if police believe they are carrying a knife and on those who have a previous conviction for a knife crime. In addition to curfews, the proposed orders also include measures to stop persons over the age of 12 meeting or associating with certain people and geographical restrictions i.e. restricting which parts of the country or local areas they can visit.

HM Government has stressed that the proposed orders are aimed at preventing knife crime and are not a punishment. Home Secretary Priti Patel stated “We are cracking down on violent crime. Our Offensive Weapons Act will help to stop acids and knives making their way onto our streets and being used to carry out horrifying attacks.

The proposed orders also have the backing of senior police officers. National Police Chiefs’ Council series violent crime lead Jackie Sebire said: “Knife crime prevention orders will provide police with a further means to help deter young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime. These orders will help to make young people stop and think about the choices and consequences of carrying a knife.

The Metropolitan Police’s violent crime task force lead, Ade Adelekan also stated that: “The Met supports the proposed knife crime prevention orders. We feel they will help to discourage more young people from carrying knives in a positive rather than punitive format, giving them support and pathways away from potential crime or negative influences.

Figures published by the Home Office show an 80% increase in the last five years of knife crime or sharp implement offences in England and Wales, with 43,516* offences in the 12 months ending March 2019. 

*Figures exclude Greater Manchester due to data collection issues.

Increase in child suicide rate prompts mental health “crisis” fears

The marked increase in the number of children dying by suicide has prompted a call for urgent action to address a “crisis” in young people’s mental health support.

Office for National Statistics figures reveal a rise of 13.9% in suicides among 10 to 19-year olds in 2018, 188 recorded, compared with 2017 statistics. Worryingly latest provisional figures indicate this rise is set to continue. Comparing the first 6 months of 2019 to 2018, the number of 15 to 19-year-olds who took their own life shows an increase from 37 to 56, bringing the total to 93 this year so far. Additionally, the number of 10 to 14-year-olds who died by suicide over the same period increased from one to four. Statistics confirm that boys continue to be the higher risk group. From April to June this year 39 boys aged between 15 and 19 took their own life, compared with 17 girls.

Campaigners including the charity Young Minds are calling for HM Government to develop a new strategy to address the causes of young people’s mental ill-health and prioritise early support mechanisms. A survey survey of more than 7,000 young people conducted by the charity cites school pressures, concerns around appearance, bullying and dealing with trauma as having a devastating effect on children’s mental health. The survey also found that two thirds of young people with mental health conditions had been unable to access support when they first needed it and that more than 75% are managing their mental health by themselves.

The Good Childhood report, published in August this year by the Children’s Society, also found that one in five children have concerns about their mental health, with those in living in poverty particularly worried.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Every suicide is a preventable death and we are working urgently with partners across government, businesses and communities to tackle this problem. All councils have a suicide prevention plan in place backed by £25m and we work closely with them to ensure they are effective”.

Domestic Abuse Bill to be progressed

As the suspension of Parliament has now been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court, this now means draft bills already in place may continue their passage through the House of Commons and House of Lords. Great news as this avoids the situation where they would have to be re-tabled, effectively starting the process again. The draft Domestic Abuse Bill, published in January this year, which includes proposals to introduce the first statutory definition of domestic abuse, new legal protections for victims and a range of measures to support women and children, will now continue its passage through the House of Commons. Great news as this legislation is needed and will be an effective safeguarding benchmark.

NCA director of investigations, Nikki Holland said: “Tackling county lines and the misery it causes is a national law enforcement priority”. Research suggests up to 800,000 children live in homes where domestic abuse occurs. Ofsted has previously warned that “far too little” is currently being done to prevent domestic abuse  and to repair the damage it causes afterwards.

Children’s experiences of online harm

Findings from a joint consultation conducted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Children’s Commissioner’s Office reveal children are being exposed to disturbing, abusive and potentially illegal content whilst online. The consultation set out to obtain the views of primary and secondary pupils on the proposals within the Online Harms White Paper and makes for interesting and informative reading.

Both groups were critical when asked how they learn about online safety, stating they felt disengaged by lengthy and repetitive talks. Of particular note the participants said they wanted more creative and engaging online safety sessions and teaching from individuals with relative personal experience. They also felt there should be more education around technical and legal issues e.g. reporting, data collection, privacy and how to interpret terms and conditions documents.

Crucially the findings revealed that online gaming environments were just as important to the children as social media and that they were less likely to report online gaming abuse. The Children’s Commissioner’s Office is currently working on a project looking at the benefits and drawbacks of online gaming which will be published later this year.

“County lines” and modern slavery

As part of the strategy to combat the phenomenon known as “county lines”, the police and National Crime Agency (NCA) officers are using modern slavery legislation to combat gang exploitation of young people. Gang leaders are being warned that they will be treated as child traffickers, not just as drug dealers, if they exploit young people to support their illegal activity.

NCA director of investigations, Nikki Holland said: “Tackling county lines and the misery it causes is a national law enforcement priority”.

As part of the national strategy to combat “county lines”, an operation run by the National County Lines Coordination Centre earlier this year resulted in officers taking action to protect more than 900 people, including more than 350 children, and helping more than 30 people thought to be at risk of human trafficking and modern slavery. 

Click here for more information on our “County Lines” training course (10% discount available on purchases before 30th September 2019).

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 18th July 2019

This is the last bulletin this academic year. We’ll be back in September and hope you have a well-earned break.

Over the summer, our safeguarding courses will be fully updated in line with KCSIE 2019 ready for September. We will also be releasing Administration of Medication this week and adding our new County Lines course ready for September.

Response to High Court ruling on children’s centres

Campaigners, who have vowed to continue the fight to keep children’s centres despite losing a High Court challenge over local closures, are considering appealing the ruling.

Alka Dass of Save Bucks Children’s Centres, is calling for users to step up their campaigns to protect centres nationally. Following the judicial review ruling, Buckinghamshire County Council plans to go ahead with closing more than half of its Sure Start children’s centres in September. The judge rejected the claim on all grounds, which included accusations that the decision had been made before the consultation ended, and a breach of the county’s duty to ensure there are sufficient childcare services across Buckinghamshire. The judicial review was launched after concerns were raised over the decision to close Millbrook Children’s Centre in High Wycombe.

Following a public consultation in 2018, the council announced it was restructuring provision as part of a drive to save money in the face of budget cuts. The number of children’s centres in Buckinghamshire will be cut from 35 to 14 and the remaining buildings will become family centres and focus on children and young people up to the age of 19, rather than to age 5 as they are currently.

In her ruling relating to a claimed breach of the Childcare Act 2006, Mrs Justice Andrews said she was satisfied that the consultation had been fair. She stated: “I am satisfied that the material before the court is sufficient to establish that the council did assess the overall needs and locally based needs of families with young children, and of the children themselves, for children’s centres; and that it did make a conscious and informed decision that the 16 centres at the selected locations would be enough to meet those needs.”

Research, conducted by the Sutton Trust, revealed that more than 1,000 children’s centres closed between 2010 and 2018 and published Department for Education figures show that council spending on centres fell by £110M last year. Earlier this year, the DFE announced it was reviewing children’s centres and other delivery models to find out “what works well”.

Norfolk County Council has also announced plans to close 87% of the locality’s children’s centres.

New AI technology to safeguard children & catch more predators

Police can now analyse indecent images of children in minutes with pioneering new technology.

Speaking at the Child Abuse Image Database hub, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that police forces across the UK will have access to new tools to speed up investigations of online child abuse and limit the number of indecent images of children (IIOC) police officers have to view.

Three revolutionary new technology tools will be rolled out to improve the capability of the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID), in a huge boost to bring child sexual abusers to justice and safeguard victims. CAID is a single database of IIOC which enables UK law enforcement to work collaboratively to safeguard children and bring people to justice.

The new tools consist of:

  • a fast-forensic tool to rapidly analyse seized devices and find images already known to law enforcement
  • an image categorisation algorithm to assist officers to identify and categorise the severity of illegal imagery
  • a capability to detect images with matching scenes to help identify children in indecent images in order to safeguard victims

CAID was first introduced to police forces from December 2014. There are currently 13 million images on CAID and the number grows on average by half a million every two months. The Home Office has invested £18.2 million into the programme since 2014, with the new innovations costing £1.76 million.

In his speech, the Home Secretary said:

“Vile predators who are creating, viewing or sharing indecent imagery of children are constantly adapting their tactics to evade capture. We must move at the same pace and evolve to ensure we catch these paedophiles, bring them to justice and protect vulnerable victims. This game-changing tech will help us do this and will be vital in the fight against online child abusers.”

The fast-forensic tool will allow a more rapid analysis of a device against images on CAID, taking just 30 minutes to process when previously it would take up to 24 hours. Police officers currently grade up to 200 images an hour from grade ‘C’ to ‘A’ for the most extreme form of IIOC. The image-categoriser will sort these before officers have to see them and see up to 2,000 images an hour graded. Whilst officers will still have to look at the images, this use of computers will relieve them of the psychological pressures of viewing the imagery.

Importantly, the third innovation will help identify victims using scene matching technology in indecent images of children.

Commenting on the new technology, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Child Protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey said:

“There have been year on year increases in reports of people accessing indecent images of children and as a service, we are searching more properties, arresting more suspects and safeguarding more children than ever before.
The improvements to the Child Abuse Image Database will enable us to catch more offenders, rescue more children from harm and reduce the pressure and trauma on our officers from having to review every image manually.”

The tools were developed in partnership between the CAID Innovation Lab and UK-based companies Qumodo, Vigil AI and Cyan Forensics as part of the government’s efforts to tackle all forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA).

Qumodo CEO, Benjamin Gancz, said:

“The level and extremity of this content can be truly harrowing to investigate. Current practices expose police officers and content moderators to it for unnecessarily long periods of time with very little support. By teaming up with an AI we can moderate this exposure and identify when staff may be struggling.
This will provide an entirely new capability to the world of child protection and forensics. We are proud to have developed a product that will directly support the police and help to safeguard children in the future.”

Last month the Home Secretary announced HM Government would be publishing a Child Sexual Abuse strategy to drive the improvement in tackling offenders and supporting victims, both online and offline.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Whilst not yet finalised, yesterday the Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced to parliament before summer recess to ensure the momentum of progressing legislation is maintained in the autumn legislative programme.

The Bill will place a legal duty on councils to offer secure homes for those and their children fleeing violence. Local authority spending on refuges for abuse victims fell from £31m in 2010 to £23m in 2017.

the key measures in the Bill include:

  • The first HM Government definition of domestic abuse, which will include financial abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour;
  • Proposals for a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to champion survivors and hold local and national government to account on their actions;
  • Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders, which would allow police and courts to intervene earlier where abuse is suspected;
  • Prohibiting the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts;
  • Automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts.

It is estimated that almost two million adults in England and Wales are victims of domestic abuse every year.

Carers of Margaret Fleming sentenced

Yesterday, the two carers of a murdered a vulnerable teenager whose body has never been found were each been ordered to spend more than 14 years in prison.

Edward Cairney (77) and Avril Jones (59) killed 19-year-old Margaret Fleming, whose learning difficulties were so complex she couldn’t manage her financial affairs, sometime between December 1999 and January 2000. Jones then continued to claim £182,000 in benefits until it finally emerged Margaret was missing in October 2016.

Sentencing at the High Court in Glasgow, Lord Matthews told Cairney he must serve at least 14 years. Jones, who was additionally found guilty of benefit fraud as Margaret’s benefit money (£182,000) was paid directly into her account, was also sentenced to a minimum life tariff set at 14 years. Margaret’s body has never been found and in sentencing the pair Lord Matthews told them: “Only you two know the truth. Only you know where her remains are.”

The last independent sighting of the Margaret was on 17 December, 1999. Three weeks later, on 5 January, 2000, Jones told her mother that Margaret had run off with a traveller. The couple then embarked on covering up Margaret’s disappearance which involved them travelling to London to send bogus letters supposedly from her and erasing all trace of her from the cottage where she had lived. Despite a painstaking search of the dilapidated property and garden, no trace of Margaret has ever been found.

Margaret moved in with the couple following the death of her father in 1995. Cairney, a friend of her father, offered to help and took advantage of Margaret’s strained relationship with her mother. All ties between Margaret and her mother were severed in November 1997, after an assault by Cairney when she arrived to see her daughter. The couple took control of the teenager’s life and subjected her to what police described as a “living hell”.

Detective Superintendent Paul Livingstone, who led the investigation, said Ms Fleming had been: “a very vulnerable young woman who was manipulated, abused, neglected and ultimately murdered by the two people who should have been looking after her”. He went on to state that the couple kept the teenager in conditions that were “utterly disgusting and uninhabitable” before killing her.

Livingstone added: “We will never know just how Margaret was killed. What we do know is that she lived her last days in what can only be described as a living hell. She must have felt that she was alone in the world with no-one coming to help her, which is just heart-breaking to think of.”

Trial evidence revealed that in June 2012, a benefits investigator attempted to visit the teenager but was told by Jones that Margaret would not see her. The investigator said a duty social worker should have visited the “totally chaotic” property to follow up on the young woman’s welfare, but no-one did.

Four years later police were finally alerted as a result of an application for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) which had been filled out by Jones. In the application Jones wrote that Margaret “needs constant care”, had self-harmed and had been “caught eating out of a dog bowl”.

Police Scotland subsequently launched a missing persons’ investigation in October 2016. The couple maintained Margaret was still alive and often returned to visit them. In an interview, the couple also told a reporter that Margaret was a gangmaster organising and overseeing the work of casual manual labourers in Poland, highly unlikely given her known learning difficulties. From December 1999 there had been no record of her having seen a doctor, access her bank account or any social media presence.

Despite an exhaustive investigation, police have failed to find any trace of Margaret. Detectives have been unable to establish how she died or what happened to her body, although a former firefighter told the trial he once smelled what he believed was burning human flesh coming from a bonfire at Cairney and Jones’ home.

Inverclyde’s multi-agency public protection committees are now working with all the organisations involved in Margaret’s case on a full, detailed examination of the events leading up to her tragic death.

Free food for FSM pupils

During prime minister’s questions yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that 50K children who qualify for free school meals will be provided with free food over the summer holidays at a cost of £9M from the DFE. Whilst welcome, concerns have been raised given that this only equates to a quarter of children attracting the pupil premium.

Luton man & woman charged with terrorism offences

A Luton man and woman charged with terrorism offences appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday. The brother and sister were arrested on 3rd July following a vehicle stop as part of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command. The investigation is reported to have uncovered an alleged terror plot in its early stages against London Pride.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 28, appeared charged with one count of preparation of acts of terrorism, one count of dissemination of a terrorist publication, and one count of possession of terrorist information. Sneha Chowdhury, 25, appeared charged with two counts of failing to disclose information regarding terrorist activity. Sneha Chowdhury was released on bail whilst Mohiussunnath Chowdhury has been remanded in custody.

Last year Mohiussunnath Chowdhury was involved in an incident outside Buckingham Palace and arrested. Chowdhury had driven his blue Toyota Prius at a marked police van. Officers sprayed him with CS gas when they saw him sat in his car with a sword and a knife sharpener. PC Ian Midgley and PC Gavin Hutt approached and managed to overpower Chowdhury, retrieving the sword. PC Hutt said Chowdhury started screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ while wielding the sword. Investigators found Chowdhury had searched beheadings in Chechnya, Islamic State beheadings and Jihadi John on the internet. In a WhatsApp group chat Chowdhury was asked if his profile picture was an Isis flag. He responded: “It is an Isis flag. I support Isis,” followed by a laughing emoji. He later told jurors it was all “in jest”.

However, he was unanimously acquitted by jurors at the Old Bailey of one allegation of preparing acts of terrorism after a retrial. (The first jury had failed to reach a verdict in June). Chowdhury told jurors he only wanted to be killed by police and had no intention to hurt anyone himself. He said he had been feeling lonely and depressed and only wanted to get himself killed by brandishing the blade to police officers. After the Old Bailey jury cleared him, Chowdhury smiled and waved at them.

Further social media was revealed showing Chowdhury praising the Westminster Bridge terrorist Khalid Masood and claiming all the non-Muslim victims of the atrocity would go to hell. In a “suicide note” left on his sister’s laptop Chowdhury urged his family to “struggle against the enemies of Allah” which included the Queen and British soldiers.

Mohiussunnath and Sneha Chowdhury will appear at the Old Bailey on the 29th of July.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 11th July 2019

7-year-olds’ gang involvement

New research by The Children’s Society reveals that children as young as seven are being used to move drugs for organised gangs.

The report findings, reveal that whilst teenagers are most at risk of exploitation, the targeting of children of primary school age is increasing. The report also states that many police forces and councils are not recording data about children who are exploited and nearly two-thirds of councils do not have a strategy in place for tackling child criminal exploitation.

The charity is calling for independent advocates to help children who are referred using the National Referral Mechanism get the support they need. The report also calls for children to be treated as victims rather than criminals, child criminal exploitation to be defined in law and for more funding for early help.

The Children’s Commissioner for England estimates there are at least 46,000 children involved in gang activity. Although boys are believed to be most at risk, one in six children referred as suspected victims are girls. The report found that affluence is not a bar to this type of exploitation. Whilst family breakdown, living in poverty and being excluded from school make children vulnerable, loneliness and wanting to fit in are also risk factors.

Nick Roseveare, The Children’s Society chief executive said: “This shocking report reveals how cowardly criminals are stooping to new lows in grooming young people to do their dirty work and in casting their net wider to reel in younger children. Children are being cynically exploited with the promise of money, drugs, status and affection and controlled using threats, violence and sexual abuse, leaving them traumatised and living in fear.”

He went on to comment that: “the response from statutory agencies is too often haphazard and comes too late and a national strategy is needed to help improve responses to child criminal exploitation.”

ADCS calls for coordinated knife crime strategy

Members of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) are calling on HM Government to deliver a coordinated and sustainably funded knife crime strategy, to put child protection and safeguarding at the top of the agenda.

The call is in response to a sharp rise in knife related incidents which has left increasing numbers of young people injured or fatally stabbed. The organisation states that doctors are reporting children involved in knife crime being admitted to hospital in school uniform.

A discussion paper published at the ADCS annual conference sets out the need for a strategy which focuses on prevention and a long-term commitment to cultural change.

In a statement, the ADCS said: “A reaffirmation from government of the importance of treating this first and foremost as a child protection and safeguarding concern would be helpful as would a reassertion of the role of the director of children’s services as a systems leader.”

The ADCS is urging HM Government to recognise that “one-off, time limited funding” which councils have to bid for to tackle complex issues such as knife crime is unsustainable. The paper states that whilst funding alone will not solve the problem, it is an important part of the picture.

In her speech at the annual conference, ADCS president Rachel Dickinson said: “Children tell us they are carrying a knife because they are scared for their safety – it’s clear something has to change and fast. Stricter laws, longer sentences and the expansion of police powers alone would not address the underlying social issues which lead some children and communities being more vulnerable to risk or harm in the first place.”

Dickinson also added that lessons could be learnt from youth offending teams, the Troubled Families programme, initiatives such as Prevent and youth work as well as agency responses to child sexual exploitation.

The Home Office announced last month  that anti-knife crime lessons would be delivered in schools before the start of the summer holidays. This followed the £1.35m “#knifefree” advertising campaign which featured real stories of young people who decided not to carry a knife in an effort to inspire others to do the same.

Statutory services at risk

A research survey conducted by the Local Government Association (LGA) has found that a third of councils fear funding for statutory services, including child protection, will run out within three years as they face an overall funding gap of more than £3bn by 2020. The findings from the 339 councils who participated also found this number rose to almost two thirds by 2024/25. 17% of the participating councils reported they were not confident they will make the savings they need to in the current financial year.

The report states: “Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 they had from central government to run local services. As such, the next Spending Review will be make or break for vital local services and securing the financial sustainability of councils must be the top priority.” The report also identifies that the growing demand pressures, particularly for areas such as children’s services and special educational needs, had contributed to a predicted funding gap of more than £3bn by next year.

Increase in reporting of online images of sexual abuse

In a speech at the NSPCC annual conference, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said self-help resources are increasingly being used by people worried about their sexual attitudes towards children and that: “more potential offenders are being stopped before they prey upon children”.

The Home Secretary stated that more people are reporting online images of sexual abuse, and more of those who are viewing or considering viewing the images are seeking help. The specialist helpline run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which aims to protect child victims of online abuse, has seen calls increase by nearly 25 per cent in a year and it’s Stop It Now website has also seen a 40 per cent increase in the number of people accessing its resources.

Javid stated: “We know it’s working, with independent evaluation showing web users concerned about their behaviour reported increased awareness of the law and positive behaviour changes. So more potential offenders are being stopped before they prey upon children – something we undoubtedly need to see more of.”

The news comes as figures released by the NSPCC this week show there are an average of 22 online child sex abuse offences committed every day. UK referrals of child abuse images from industry are also 10 times greater than in 2013. HM Government’s education campaign with the Internet Watch Foundation and Marie Collins Foundation have also seen a 72 per cent increase in public reports of indecent images of children online.

The consultation on the Online Harms white paper, which sets out the government’s package of online safety measures, closed this week and we will keep you up to date with findings when published.

Private schools encouraged to offer places to vulnerable children

As part of a £500,000 HM Government drive, private schools have been told to open up places and facilities to children in care.

This follows the publication of a HM Government-backed report last year which found that placing vulnerable youngsters at boarding schools can be “significantly more cost-effective” than keeping them in local authority care.  Its researchers followed the progress of 52 children over ten years who were either in care or at risk of being taken into care by Norfolk County Council. After being sent to a boarding school, almost 63per cent of the children came off the risk altogether while 71 per cent showed a reduced level of risk.

The minister for children, Nadhim Zahawi, has said he wants private schools: “to play a greater role in helping raise outcomes for these vulnerable children”. This statement comes amid mounting pressure on the country’s most prestigious private schools to step up their efforts to help less well-off pupils.

Three quarters of independent schools in England are registered as charities, which earns them favourable business rates and VAT exemptions on fees. To qualify as a charity, they must demonstrate that they provide “public benefit” to a reasonably wide section of the public, rather than to a narrow group of wealthy individuals.

Other news:

The latest vulnerability reports were published last week by the Children’s Commissioner Office, showing that 2.3m children in England are at risk due to family circumstances.

Ofsted have published the last school inspection update, the last before inspectors begin to inspect under the new education inspection framework (EIF) from September 2019.

Amanda Spielman’s speech at the National Governance Association discussed the response to the consultation on the EIF and what it means for governors.

Amanda Spielman’s speech at the Wellington Festival of Education discussed education’s role in preparing young people for life in modern Britain.

Ofsted repeated the call for outstanding school exemption to be lifted as more schools lose the highest Ofsted grading. Only 16% of outstanding primary and secondary schools inspected this academic year retained their top Ofsted rating, according to official statistics.

Please do let us know what you think of the e-Bulletin:

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.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 4th July 2019

New KCSIE for 2019 – overview by Sam Preston

It’s fair to say there was a collective groan when HM Government announced that a new version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) would come into effect this year, given the wealth of amendments (51 in total) introduced in last year’s revision. However good news, this year the changes are limited (17 in total) the majority of which are minor tweaks.

More good news for SSS Learning schools & academies, as we automatically update all our training and advise you of updates to legislation or criminal offences as they happen, there really is very little for you to do. So, what are the key changes?

Rather than scan the whole draft document, all the changes are detailed in Annex H of the guidance. As you will see, the majority are changes to the order within the document rather than the actual content. There has been some reordering to Part 1 – my recommendation would be to reissue the finalised version to all staff, including Annex A for those working in regulated activity, in September. It’s probably been a year since staff have read it so it’s a timely refresher.

One big change is of course the arrangements for local safeguarding partnerships. As we have previously informed you, statutory locality safeguarding responsibilities are removed from Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCBs) and transferred to new Tri-partnership arrangements made up of Local Authorities, the Police and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). (See p. 68- 75).

Having had some interim time to develop such arrangements the deadline for having them in place is this September. Educational settings are very likely to be named as ‘relevant agencies’ and as such will be bound by the statutory multi-agency working practices each partnership develops. So, in essence it is essential to find out and familiarise yourselves with your local safeguarding partnership’s directives and policy and disseminate to staff. Also don’t forget to change any references to LSCBs in your policies. Just to confuse things, LSCBs do not have to be disbanded but they no longer have the statutory responsibilities.

As the new version is catching up on legislation and criminal offences introduced since last September, it worth reviewing your policy to ensure all the key areas are included. For example, ensure upskirting is defined (see p. 27) and included in the peer-on-peer abuse section with details of how you will respond and manage incidents. You should recognise that this is a criminal offence and may constitute sexual harassment.

Serious violence is not a new topic within KCSIE however, as we have been reporting, this version places a greater emphasis on this area. (p. 29 & 30). Your policy and staff practice should include knowledge of the indicator for concern including county lines, criminal exploitation (formerly referred to as financial exploitation) and contextual safeguarding areas e.g. risks associated with gang membership.

As KCSIE expects policy to direct proactive approaches to safeguarding ensure you reference the latest standards for relationships education, relationships and sex education and health education.

Together with the draft publication of KCSIE 2019, last month the DfE have also published Teaching Online Safety in Schools. Ensure this document is referenced in your safeguarding and all related policies and that staff know where and how to access it.

I’d also remain mindful that we will have the Domestic Abuse Bill shortly and undoubtedly this will impact on your Child Protection & Safeguarding policies.

So that’s the key headlines of KCSIE 2019. Remember, it is only in draft form right now and does not come into effect until September. If there are any further key amendments be reassured we will let you know.

Report finds further failings for Bethnal Green Academy pupils

Only sixteen months after four schoolgirls left Bethnal Green Academy (now Green Spring Academy) to join Isis, in 2016 two teenage sisters were removed from the school by their mother and taken abroad to be de-westernised.

Their mother had approached the school a month before they vanished to request term-time leave and was given a form to fill in. But there is no evidence this was completed and staff did not ask where the girls would be taken. 

The sisters, who feared becoming victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, were taken to a boarding school in Somaliland where their passports were confiscated.

Allegations that the girls were being abused, made by them via social media, were reported to Waltham Forest council and police but not followed up with urgency. This despite police records recording that another girl in the family had been subject to an FGM and Forced Marriage Protection Order in 2009.

A housing officer had also raised concerns, saying she thought that the children “might have left the country under duress”, however no action was taken.

Despite contacting friends via social media detailing allegations of the physical abuse they were suffering at the new school, it was not until they expressed concerns to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in relation to FGM and forced marriage that action was taken. The two sisters were repatriated almost a year later after texting the UK Government’s Forced Marriage Unit.

A report by Waltham Forest Council, where the family was housed by Tower Hamlets, found several occasions where “correct processes were not followed” by their UK school and found that the sisters’ disappearance could potentially have been discovered earlier. When the sisters disappeared, Tower Hamlets council’s welfare adviser, who would have followed up with the family over the school holidays, was not informed of their absences.

Three months after the sisters left, the academy informed their family in the UK that the girls risked being removed from the school roll. Their older sister informed the academy where they were but no return date or address was given. On receipt of this information no follow up visit was made to their home. 

It was only when the sisters managed to contact HM Government office themselves that a joint operation between police, Waltham Forest Children’s Services and the Foreign Office was undertaken and they were taken into protective custody. Thankfully the sisters had not been subjected to FGM.

The Somaliland school has since been shut and the headmaster charged with child abuse offences.

Restraint and restrictive intervention consultation launched

Last month the DFE and Department of Health and Social Care released guidance on restraint and restrictive intervention for special schools and health and social care settings and it seems further versions are to be produced for mainstream schools.

The current version of the guidance aims to help such organisations “adopt a preventative approach to supporting children and young people whose behaviour challenges as a result of learning disabilities, autistic spectrum conditions or mental health difficulties”. This week the DfE launched a consultation to see if similar guidance is needed for mainstream schools, mainstream post-16 settings and alternative provision. It will also seek views on whether “guidance should apply to a wider cohort of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities”.

The consultation comes against a backdrop of concerns from some parents of children with SEND about the use of restraint techniques in schools. As reported in our our previous bulletin, last February three families set up a crowd-funding appeal to pay for legal advice on making a legal challenge against the government over what they say are a lack of adequate safeguards on the use of restraint in schools.

The consultation closes at 6pm on 17 October 2019.

Diabetes- a safeguarding risk

The serious case review into the death of diabetic teenager has recommended that public sector workers should be required to consider diabetes in children and young people as a safeguarding risk.

The review of the case of ‘child T’ (who could not be named for legal reasons) by East Sussex’s Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) identified ways in which health workers and schools could improve how they work together to support children with diabetes. The review found that opportunities to provide preventatives services “were too often missed” prior to the hospital death of the 18-year-old in May 2017, from a complication associated with type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is more common in children, around 35,000 children and young people under the age of 19 in the UK have diabetes of which 96 per cent have type 1.

The chair of the review board, Reg Hooke, has written to the departments of health and education asking them to review guidance provided, in particular to schools. Commenting on the review findings, he said: “The report provides a number of recommendations for how GPs, hospitals and schools in East Sussex should improve how they work together to support children with health conditions such as diabetes. These improvements are already being made locally but at a national level there needs to be a review of current practice and policy to ensure the same learning takes place across the country.”

The case of ‘child T’ clearly highlights failings to provide joined up care and failure to recognise and identify risks. The investigation into the teenager’s death revealed he had a history of missed appointments and poor school attendance since diagnosis. The review concluded that his school had not considered his health and support needs adequately or properly assessed his needs to consider the wider issues of neglect or safeguarding. His dramatic weight loss, from 23 stone to nine stone did not trigger concerns. His reports of feeling unwell at school, feet and back pain were not shared or explored further.

Hooke sees it as vital that guidance “makes it clear to schools that they have a key role for ensuring safeguarding procedures are used in appropriate cases where good health depends on following medical guidance”.

The report was also critical of health professionals stating they should have been more alert to risks when appointments are missed and be more effective in challenging families that do not provide adequate care. On admission to hospital, ‘child Ts’ physical and emotional state indicated severe neglect which had started during his childhood.

Teachers strike over pupil behaviour

Teachers have gone on strike at Starbank school in Birmingham, school rated outstanding by Ofsted since 2012, where they say students are carrying knives, threatening staff and brawling in classrooms.

Staff at the school, whose pupils range from age three to 16, have been given panic buttons and say they are “scared to come out of their classrooms” between lessons, according to the teaching union NASUWT.

The NASUWT union took urgent action following concerns that pupils were bringing in knives and threatening staff. Paul Nesbitt, the NASUWT national executive member for the West Midlands, said Starbank could be described as “a flagship school” for Birmingham “but it’s what’s going on inside that’s the problem.”

Nesbitt reported that one teacher had been punched in the face by a Year 7 pupil and another had been threatened with a weapon by a student who was still at the school. He said there were “intimidating groups” across all ages at the school and that a regular brawl called “Thursday fight” took place. He also reported he himself had seen “pupils running along the corridors screaming when they should have been in class”.

The school remained open on Thursday and the executive head teacher, Satnam Dosanjh, said suitable provision had been made to ensure that lessons would continue.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the Nasuwt, responded: “Strike action is a last resort for dedicated and committed teachers but there has been a failure by the employer to take seriously their professional concerns over pupil indiscipline”.

The west Birmingham school was praised by Ofsted last year for  its “exceptional ethos, care and quality of education”.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 27th June 2019

Children ‘ping-ponged’ around services

New research published by the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition has found that young people with learning disabilities are struggling to find support for their mental health, despite being four times more likely than their peers to need help. The report titled Overshadowed, commissioned by Comic Relief, reveals that over a quarter of young people (27.9%) with both a learning disability and a mental health problem have not had any contact with mental health services and many families and young people described being “ping-ponged” around the system from service to service due to a lack of co-ordination. Just under a quarter of those who contacted services said they had to wait more than six months for help. The report states that young people with learning disabilities have an increased risk of developing mental health problems due to social and emotional factors, such as living in poverty, parental mental ill-health and negative life events, rather than their disability itself.  Although children on the learning disability register are entitled to an annual health check through their GP from the age of 14, most of the research participants said they had not been offered such a check. The report recommends that if such checks were in place at an earlier age, this could potentially lead to better detection and support. The report highlights that: “These young people and families can be in contact with their GP, paediatricians, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, social care and education among other services. Although there may be documents outlining what interventions are on offer, these appear to fail in practice.” Key weaknesses in the current system are not only a lack of early intervention but also the transition from child to adult services, when young people may be moving from multiple services.

Safeguarding remains an EIF priority

Following an extensive consultation period, the new Ofsted inspection framework has been finalised. No longer referred to as “common” the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF), informed by a wealth of research, will come into effect from September. HM Chief Inspector of Education Amanda Spielman said: “I am heartened by the overwhelming support for what we’re doing to focus on the substance of education and place less emphasis on tests and data…the new framework puts the real substance of education, the curriculum, back at the heart of inspection and supports leaders and teachers who act with integrity. We hope all providers will no longer feel the need to generate and analyse masses of internal data for inspection. Instead, we want them to spend their time teaching and making a real difference to learners’ lives.” Overall, there are no real significant changes to the inspection handbook. The emphasis on safeguarding, safer recruitment, qualification records and complaints procedures remain a priority. Despite much discussion around their removal, the four grades (outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate), remain the same and safeguarding will impact on such judgements. The recent much publicised downgrading of ‘outstanding’ schools may have had some influence on the decision to retain the grade system. As we have highlighted in previous newsletters, the practice of ‘off-rolling’ features with inspectors directed to detect such practice. Whilst safeguarding remains a priority, a really welcome change is to after school provision. This provision no longer needs to meet, or be constrained by, the learning and development requirements. At last they can be environments where children can just play!

Inadequate funding will not affect Ofsted judgements

Despite admitting that inadequate funding is affecting the quality of council child protection services, Ofsted Social Care Director Yvette Stanley has said this will not be taken into account when issuing inspection judgments.

In a blog published last week, the inspectorate’s director highlighted the harmful impact of cuts on the quality of children’s services at some councils but  stated: “The bar for good judgments must relate to practice, not context.

The blog maintains that inspections already flag resource and demand issues and how they impact on social workers from working effectively, including overly high caseloads and unrealistic expectations of the amount of work managers can safely oversee.

The priority for the new safeguarding partnerships will be to work together to tackle contextual factors and respond effectively to the needs of each child and family. Under the new inspection framework, in place from 2018, only 60 per cent children’s services departments have been rated “good” or “outstanding” in relation to children in need of help and protection.

New Parent View questions on trial

Reflecting on the NHS England project ‘Ask Listen Do’, Ofsted are currently trialling new Parent View questions.

In a blog, Nick Whittaker, Ofsted’s Specialist SEND Advisor described how the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) places more emphasis on inspecting SEND provision. Whittaker describes how the EIF “gives real weight to how inspectors judge that the needs of children and young people with SEND have been identified, assessed and met.

The EIF clearly states that schools should have an inclusive culture and that leaders should have ‘a clear and ambitious vision for providing high-quality, inclusive education to all learners’. There will also be a focus on ensuring safeguarding needs are appropriately identified and considered on an equal footing with SEND needs.

Ofsted are also working with the Council for Disabled Children to develop ways of giving children with SEND a stronger voice in the inspections of local areas and schools.   

‘Eyes Open’ Campaign

Child Protection Committees Scotland, a nation-wide group of child protection professionals, are urging everyone to be extra observant to help protect potentially vulnerable children during the summer holidays. The ‘Eyes Open’ campaign aims to make members of the public aware and play an important role in keeping all children safe from harm during the long summer break. Launching the campaign, CPCScotland Chair Alan Small said:

Most children look forward to having lots of fun and free time during the school holidays but for some families the summer break can bring extra stress and pressure. In some cases, children might not be looked after or supervised properly, and some might even experience serious neglect.

The campaign stresses that everyone in every community across the country is responsible for child welfare and that by taking the ‘Eyes Open’ approach, all members of the public can play a part to protect children. Small stated:

We’re simply asking people to keep their eyes open for tell-tale signs that all is not well. Signs that a child might be at risk could include being alone and unsupervised, being out and about at all times of day or night or even going into “party” flats. A vulnerable child might be very dirty or persistently hungry, or have parents who are drunk in charge of them. If you’re at all worried, it’s important to take action.

Children’s Minister Maree Todd is also backing the campaign.


Two more secondary schools have been accused of ‘off-rolling’ following inspection by Ofsted. Falmouth School in Cornwall was rated ‘inadequate’ after inspectors found it sometimes removed pupils against the advice of other agencies and The Sutton Academy in Merseyside was rated ‘requires improvement’ after Ofsted found it ‘off-rolled’ under a process agreed by the local council and other school leaders.

Five schools have now been accused of ‘off-rolling’ in inspection reports since Ofsted produced its December annual report, which identified 300 schools with exceptionally high levels of pupil movement that could be ‘off-rolling’. Whilst refusing to name the 300 schools Ofsted has alerted local authorities and academy trusts to schools it has such concerns about.

Latest statistics prompt call for prioritising online safety

The NSPCC has called on HM Government to prioritise young people’s online safety after statistics revealed police forces in the UK record an average of 22 cyber-related sex crimes against children every day.

Figures gathered by the charity via a series of freedom of information requests from forty forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reveal the number of sexual offences against under-18s logged by police as having an online element have doubled in four years to more than 8,000 in 2018-19.

Whilst the most common age of victims was 13yrs, 185 offences involved children aged 10 and under some of which were babies. Crimes included online grooming, sexual communication with a child, and rape.

Four years ago the Police began marking sexual offences with a cyber-flag whenever a crime involved the internet. Figures show that in 2015-16, the total recorded was 4,042, which rose to 8,244 in 2018-1.

The HM Government consultation on the Online Harms white paper, which closes on Monday, will outline new laws to for internet companies. Among the proposals under consideration is the introduction of an independent regulator to enforce a legal duty of care on technology companies to keep users safe on their platforms.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 20th June 2019

Review of social care in Huddersfield CSE case finds opportunities lost

A review commissioned by Kirklees Council has concluded that opportunities to expose a grooming gang, which raped and abused girls as young as 11 in Huddersfield, were lost.

Following examination of social work files, the review carried out by the Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership, Dr Mark Peel, found that the council had “sufficient evidence” to conclude that two girls were being exploited but had failed to take action.

In 2018, 20 men were convicted of more than 120 offences against 15 girls, which took place between 2004 and 2011. The review found that 15 of the 22 women who gave evidence at the trial were known to children’s services at the time and whilst the majority of them had received “services of an acceptable standard”, there was “direct intelligence” of child sexual exploitation in two cases.

Social work notes for one of the girls (known as Girl 4 aged 16) recorded “she is being exploited into prostitution, she hangs around with a number of men who take her money”. The notes also stated “she is a very promiscuous girl”.

In relation to the second girl (known as Girl 8), social work notes recorded that she “is getting into cars with Asian men for the purpose of drugs, alcohol and sexual exploitation”.

Dr Peel said: “It is my contention that children’s services officers knew at the time that these young women most likely to have been engaged in inappropriate, exploitative and illegal sexual activity to the extent that they had sufficient evidence to conclude these vulnerable young women were at risk of ‘serious harm’.

“In both instances, however, it would appear that, other than recording this information, no subsequent preventative safeguarding action was taken, and that thus an opportunity to break the CSE ring operating in Kirklees, and protect these girls directly and others more generally, was lost.”

In a statement, Kirklees Council Director of Children’s Services Mel Meggs said the council was “truly sorry the girls were not protected in the right way”. Meggs went on to state “Dr Peel has been clear that the vast majority of cases were handled in line with the policy and practice of the time. However, the studies of ‘Girl 4’ and ‘Girl 8’ show that, historically, professionals did not always spot the signs of exploitation and did not always respond appropriately to concerns.”

“We are truly sorry that these two girls were not protected in the right way.”

New school admission priority

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds announced last week that the school admissions code in England is to be changed to make it easier for families escaping domestic abuse to switch schools. Hinds stated that more needs to be done for the 1.6 million children not in care but classified as “children in need” and that he wants vulnerable children to get a school place “as quickly as possible”. Hinds went on to state “We need to improve the visibility of this group, both in schools and in the system as a whole.”

This move, which will form part of the Domestic Abuse Bill, is in response to a report published earlier this year which called for children forced to move home to be given priority over school places.

The committee set up to review the draft Bill is also calling on HM government to consider amending the definition of harm set out in the Children Act to include the trauma caused by children witnessing coercive control between adults in the household. Members raised concerns about a lack of legal definition for children as victims in the Bill after hearing evidence that highlighted a “negative impact on services for children who have suffered such trauma”.

Knife crime bounties

In a BBC Beyond Today podcast, Liverpool teenagers reported being offered up to £1,000 by gang leaders to stab other youngsters. One boy reported that his best friend was the target of a £1,000 bounty. Such bounties are being paid by “elders” who want to avoid carrying out the attacks themselves. One teenager said people would go to watch “straighteners” (a fight arranged to resolve a dispute) where people were “getting stabbed”. When asked why they would take such action the teenager said “they’ll go and do it because they’ll think, if I do this, then I’ll get more money and I’ll get more respect from the elders.”

In a statement Merseyside Police said it was aware organised crime groups used violence to settle disputes and that gangs were known to exploit “young and vulnerable people to sell drugs and even to use violence”.

According to official statistics, last year Merseyside Police had one of the biggest increases in recorded knife offences, a rise of 35%. In 2018 the force recorded 1,231 offences involving a knife. Last week, Ministry of Justice figures showed that 22,041 knife or weapon offences were recorded in England and Wales in the past year – the highest number since 2010. One in five of those convicted or cautioned were aged between 10 and 17.

Prevention plan for mental health

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has said she believes the next “revolution in mental health” should be in prevention as she unveiled her “prevention plan”. The plan will be backed by updated statutory guidance to make clear schools’ responsibilities to protect children’s mental wellbeing.

As part of the plan every new teacher will be trained to spot the signs of poor mental health in pupils. In addition, there will be support for school mental health leads so they can help children experiencing self-harm and at risk of suicide.

The Prime Minister said tackling mental illness was a “personal priority” and that she believes “the next great revolution in mental health should be in prevention”. NHS staff and social workers will also be trained to spot the signs of mental health difficulties.

Whilst in the main the announcement has been positively received there has been some criticism that the plan fails to address key issues. Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “The aspiration to train school staff to spot signs of mental illness among pupils is welcome, but it will amount to little more than a sticking plaster.” She added: “Schools need strong pastoral systems, but teachers cannot cover for the cuts to mental health specialists. Recognising the early signs is important, but timely routes to appropriate professional treatment is essential.”

A white paper will be published before the end of the year in response to the review of the Mental Health Act chaired by Simon Wessely, past president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.


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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 13th June 2019

Guilty verdict for “monstrous” assault of toddler in tumble dryer

A man has been found guilty of putting a 13-month-old girl in a tumble dryer and switching on the machine. Thomas Dunn, 25 from Hamilton, claimed he had only “assisted” the child saying that she had been climbing in herself and that his actions were “a bad judgement call”.

During the trial, the child’s mother told the court that the child would not have been able to climb into the dryer. Dunn was also convicted of a separate charge of assaulting the child to severe injury by striking her on the head, hitting her off an object and biting her. Medics told the court that “only luck” prevented the girl from dying from injuries inflicted with “considerable force”.

“One of the fractures to the rear of her head was depressed and a circular piece of bone narrowly missed trapping the vein which drained blood away from the brain”, the surgeon told Dundee Sheriff Court.

Following the guilty verdict, Sheriff Alastair Brown stated “The maximum sentence open to me is five years but I consider the assault charge so monstrous on its own – and taken in conjunction with the other charge – my powers are not adequate and I am remitting you to the High Court for sentencing.”

Dunn was remanded in custody and will face sentencing at the High Court at a later date.

Initiative to reduce knife crime over summer

In the run up to the summer holidays, the Home Office has released a new initiative, developed in partnership with the PSHE Association, to encourage pupils to resist the pressures to carry knives.

The knife crime prevention initiative consists of new lesson plans, available to all PSHE teachers, which schools are being encouraged to timetable before the start of the summer holidays. The lessons, designed for pupils between the ages 11-16, aim to challenge inaccurate perceptions of knife crime and encourage young people to follow positive role models.

Announcing the new initiative, Victoria Atkins, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, said “early intervention is a key part of HM Government’s Serious Violence Strategy.

The Home Office has also made a series of social media graphics and posters available for use in supporting the #knifefree campaign to reduce knife crime among young people.

Children’s Tsar adds weight to isolation booth debate

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, has called for updated guidance to be issued on the use of isolation booths in schools and academies.

Giving evidence to the Education Select Committee, Longfield reported that children had told her they felt “very anxious” and “distressed” about isolation booths. They also said the booths would “probably be one of the last things to benefit them” if they had been sent there because of behaviour problems.

During the evidence session she also said that Ofsted and the Department for Education should tell schools that it is not acceptable to put children in “intolerable” isolation booths. Longfield went on to challenge Ofsted’s implementation of the new inspection framework suggesting: “When Ofsted go in and inspect a school with their new framework, I think they should be asking questions around isolation, asking questions about wellbeing of children, asking questions about the monitoring of the impact of those treatments on children”. She added that Ofsted should “be very clear that it’s not what they are looking for in a ‘good’ school”.

A BBC investigation into the controversial practice in 2018 found that hundreds of pupils spent at least a week in isolation booths last year, with more than 225 pupils in England having spent five consecutive days in the booths. A Department for Education commissioned report found that over half of secondary schools surveyed used “internal inclusion units” to deal with poorly behaving pupils.

Charity Commission damning report on Oxfam

The Charity Commission report into the sexual misconduct of Oxfam workers in Haiti is highly critical of the organisations internal governance and of its failure to follow its own rules.

Despite receiving warnings about the predatory behaviour of certain individuals, concerns were ignored even though some of the victims were children. Haiti’s government withdrew Oxfam GB’s right to work in the country after the allegations of sexual misconduct by the charity’s staff.

The damning report found that risks were not taken seriously enough and that concerns re senior staff behaviour were dealt with more leniently than those in junior positions. Some of the victims who complained were returned to conflict zones and danger.

The report found there was a “culture of poor behaviour” among Oxfam staff sent to help victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, with serious allegations of wrongdoing including sexual abuse of children which were not fully disclosed. The 18-month inquiry by the Charity Commission concluded that Oxfam was more interested in its reputation than dealing frankly and openly with the issue some of its workers engaged in “sex parties”.

The report concluded that:

  • The incidents in Haiti identified in 2011 were not “one-offs”, with evidence of behavioural issues as early as June 2010.
  • Oxfam’s internal investigation, following allegations by a whistleblower in 2011, identified four staff who either did use, or were suspected of using, prostitutes, including on charity residential premises.
  • There appeared to be a discretion allowed at the time for senior Oxfam leaders on the ground in Haiti to consider “whether or not to specifically ban their staff” from having sex with prostitutes.
  • Charity staff, both in Haiti and at home, carried out internet research on the legality of prostitution on the Caribbean island, and on at least two separate occasions professional legal advice was sought by Oxfam about prostitution.
  • Evidence provided to the inquiry described some prostitutes as looking “young, under 18, scantily dressed”, while others were described as being in their 20s.
  • Oxfam should have tried harder and taken more steps at the time to identify the source of two emails from a 12-year-old and 13-year-old girl who complained that minors were being sexually abused by a charity “boss”.
  • The resignation of Oxfam’s country director in Haiti was encouraged and facilitated by Oxfam bosses so as to “manage the reputational risk” to the charity.
  • There was also a failure to consistently hold people to account for poor behaviour and to ensure robust and consistent action was taken, resulting in a culture of tolerance of poor behaviour. This was likely to have resulted in putting victims off speaking up.
  • The report found the risk to and impact on victims “appeared to take second place at times” and was not taken seriously enough, and that victims, whistleblowers and staff who tried to raise concerns were let down.

The report also found there were “systematic weaknesses” in Oxfam’s attitude to safeguarding, and there was no up-to-date safeguarding strategy in place as recently as 2018. Weaknesses were found in human resources practices, including vetting procedures, referencing, recruitment and induction. The commission warned that Oxfam had not done enough to ensure the safeguarding of its charity workers, giving the charity 30 days to submit an action plan to show improvement.

When reporting to a committee of MPs earlier this year, the charity’s GB chief executive Mark Goldring revealed that “more than 7,000 individual donors had cancelled regular donations to the charity over the past 10 days”. Caroline Thomson, Oxfam GB’s chair of trustees, described what happened in Haiti as “shameful” and said the charity was “deeply sorry”.


The UK music industry and @TerrorismPolice have collaborated to deliver its latest social media campaign #BeSafeBeSound Backed by @UK_Music.The campaign is aimed at delivering safety information to festival-goers this summer. A number of videos released by Counter Terrorism Policing on social media will be encouraging festival-goers to have an amazing time, but to report anything suspicious, however small.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi, Senior National Coordinator for Protect and Prepare, said “The purpose of #BeSafeBeSound is to ensure that everyone attending these events knows they have an important role to play in the wider security operation. Everyone can help make events safe and secure by familiarising themselves with the #BESafeBeSound advice, by reading our Run, Hide, Tell guidance and to be ready to ACT if they spot suspicious behaviour and activity.

Former Southampton FC coach jailed

In an update to last week’s article former Southampton FC junior football coach Bob Higgins has been jailed for sexually abusing 24 schoolboy players over a 25-year period.

The 66-year-old was sentenced to 24 years and 3 months in prison. In his summation, judge Peter Crabtree said Higgins was a cunning and manipulative predator who had abused his position of trust. Higgins showed no emotion as the sentence was delivered.

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