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”.

#BeSafeBeSound

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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