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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