Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 4th April 2019

No retrial for neo-Nazi terrorist

After a seven-week trial at the Old Bailey a jury was unable to reach a unanimous or majority verdict that Jack Renshaw, the 23-year-old from Lancashire convicted of planning a terrorist plot to murder Rosie Cooper MP, was an active member of the neo-Nazi group National Action, a banned group under anti-terror laws.

During a previous Old Bailey trial last year, Renshaw admitted planning a terrorist plot to murder the Labour MP Rosie Cooper with a 19in Gladius knife. He also pleaded guilty to making a threat to kill detective Victoria Henderson, a police officer involved in investigating him for sexual offences. Renshaw also planned to commit “suicide by cop” by advancing on armed police wearing a fake suicide vest in an attack he described as “white jihad”, a slogan used by National Action. He is due to be sentenced next month.

Previously Renshaw was convicted and jailed for 16 months last year for the grooming of two adolescent boys online for sex by using a fake Facebook profile and in a separate court case also received a three-year prison sentence when he was found guilty of stirring up racial hatred. He had called for the genocide of Jewish people.

Father pleads guilty to manslaughter of baby Alfie

The 30-year-old father who was due to stand trial for the murder of his baby son Alfie, has admitted the manslaughter of the four-month-old by violently shaking him. Alfie’s mother Caitlin McMichael found her child unconscious when she returned from a doctor’s appointment in September last year. Alfie, who was taken to hospital with significant traumatic head injuries, died two days later.

The court heard Sam Gildea had a history of involvement with mental health services and that blood samples taken the day after his son’s death showed traces of cocaine and cannabis in his system, consistent with recent use. Admitting to the offence described as an “act of deliberate and unlawful violence”, the court accepted the alternative count of manslaughter and sentenced Gildea to a term of 13 years.

Gildea, who had previously been subject to a domestic violence prevention order, also admitted to a charge of controlling or coercive behaviour towards Ms McMichael during their relationship. He received two additional years for this controlling behaviour, bringing his sentence to a total of 15 years with an extended licence period of four years to be served on his release.

Met failing to tackle online child sexual abuse and exploitation cases

An inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, and Fire and Rescue Services, has found that the Metropolitan Police Service is failing to effectively tackle online child sexual abuse and exploitation cases. Their report, based on an inspection of 34 cases involving online abuse and exploitation of children in October last year, found that 29 of them were either “inadequate” or “required improvement”. Failures were found to be so severe in 15 of the 34 cases that they were sent back to the force for review. Concerns included failure to follow child protection procedures and leaving children potentially at risk of harm.

Whilst the report found the Met had improved some areas of child protection practice, the force’s response to online child sexual abuse and exploitation had worsened since the previous 2017 inspection. The report states:

“We found that the current arrangements for investigating online cases involving indecent images of children and sexual exploitation are not working”

It also criticises the Met for the small size of its team investigating online abuse cases and examining digital devices, work which is blighted by backlogs and resource issues resulting in some devices being returned without being checked. The report does acknowledge that the Met has been “overwhelmed” by a surge in online child sexual abuse and exploitation cases. In some areas of London, officers are managing more than 100 registered sex offenders.

The report highlighted that the levels of cases dealt with by non-specialists “result in notably poorer outcomes than those that are dealt with by specialist teams”. The report concludes that “As a result, investigations may be poor, victim confidence undermined and safeguarding opportunities missed” and calls for the Met to review its responses to online cases of abuse and exploitation as a matter of urgency. Under a planned restructure, Basic Command Unit (BCU) Safeguarding Teams are to be introduced with each unit having a dedicated Superintendent Safeguarding Lead.

The inspectorate will revisit the service within the next 12 months to assess progress.

New legal duty to tackle knife crime- have your say

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has launched an eight-week consultation on the new proposed multi-agency public health duty for public sector workers which includes teachers, health workers and social workers. In a statement on addressing violent crime, the Home Secretary said:

“It’s essential that all public bodies work together to treat the root causes”.

The proposed public health approach, similar to those already in use in Scotland and Wales, is focused on the delivery of long and short-term solutions such as identifying the warning signs that a young person could be in danger of offending, becoming a victim or being groomed. This includes demonstrating worrying behaviour in the home, at school or presenting at A&E with a suspicious injury. The approach could also include organisations jointly funding early intervention services to improve their co-ordination.

If the findings from the 8-week consultation lead to the proposed model, legislation will be tabled to ensure professionals in health, education, police, social services, housing and the voluntary sector work together to make “targeted interventions” and are held accountable for preventing and tackling serious violence. If approved, the Home Office states that the new statutory duty will underpin the multi-agency approach detailed in The Serious Violence Strategy.

Initial commentary and feedback on the proposed model and introduction of the new statutory duty have, in the main, been positive but also cautions that the responsibility for solving knife crime should not solely rely on frontline staff. As the evidence we have recently reported through our bulletins indicates, there must also be a focus of developing resources to deal with the deeper causes that lead young people into serious crime. The success of the proposed public health model, designed to identify more young people at risk, will be reliant on all agencies having the capacity to respond effectively to this increase.

The consultation launch coincides with a series of HM Government summits this week, designed to gather the views of professionals from law enforcement, health, the voluntary sector and education. Young people with experience of living in communities impacted by serious violence will also contribute.

Police & MI5- Tackling the terror threat

“Britain is one of the safest and most prosperous countries in the world. Nonetheless, the complex challenges we and other countries face from terrorism and malign acts by foreign states are all too real. As we saw in Christchurch, attacks can happen at any time and in any place.”

Read the full statement by Andrew Parker DG MI5 and Cressida Dick Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Increased Poverty- a vulnerability indicator

Statistics published by the Department for Work and Pensions show a record 2.9 million children from working families in the UK are living in poverty after housing costs have been paid. The official statistics show that 70% of all poor children were in working families last year, up from 67% on the previous year, and that the face of child poverty is also getting younger with 53% of poor children aged under five.

The high cost of housing in the UK is taking more working families over the poverty line. Compared with 2010 figures, nearly a third more children (193,000) now live in meagre circumstances due to spiralling rents and mortgage costs.

The National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, is calling for HM Government to urgently invest more money in social housing. In a statement, Chief Executive Kate Henderson said:

“Year after year hundreds of thousands more hard-working families are falling into poverty – forced to choose between feeding and clothing their children, or providing a roof over their heads. The lack of affordable homes is exacerbating in-work poverty.”

Police officers to be placed in London schools

Last week the Metropolitan Police revealed their ambition to place nearly 600 officers to work in London schools. Reporting to a HM Government inquiry into knife crime, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons told MPs:

“We need young people to see the police not just as the person who stops them in the street and searches them… but also as someone who can become familiar to them, who can be approachable, who can engage with them day to day within school.”

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