Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 21st February 2019

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

Draft Domestic Abuse Bill

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

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

Counter-Terrorism & Border Security Update

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

The main provisions included in the act are:

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

Former academy proprietor barred

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

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

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

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

Call for tougher sentencing- child cruelty cases

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

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

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

Children of alcoholic parents

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

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

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 15 feb 2019

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

FGM Bill Stalls

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

Upskirting

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

The new offences apply in instances when:

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

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

Duty of Care

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

Increase in vulnerable children suicides

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

Prevent Duty

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

Surge in Home Educated Children

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

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

Mental Health Assessments

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

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FGM

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

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

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

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

To find out more about our FGM course click here

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 08 feb 2019

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

FGM

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

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

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

County Lines

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

Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill

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

Steiner Schools

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

Findings were based on:

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

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

Supreme Court Judgement on DBS disclosures

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

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

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

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

Blackpool Children’s Services

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

Disability Hate Crime

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

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

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 01 feb 2018

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

Offensive weapon possession

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

Independent Inquiry

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

Draft Domestic Abuse Bill published

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

Child sexual abuse in the family environment

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

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

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

New Joint targeted area inspection themes announced

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

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

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

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

Ofsted consultation- EIF 2019

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

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

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