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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