Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 21st Nov 2019

Welcome to our Safeguarding e-Bulletin, keeping you up-to-date with all safeguarding news, information and updates. Between publications you can also get in the moment updates on safeguarding news by following us on Twitter @SSSlearning and my commentary on @Sam_SSSLearning

New free resource for parents/ guardians

Following on from our Parental Controls Streaming Resource link we produced last month, in this edition we’re including another support link to help parents/ guardians set up parental controls on mobile phones so they can set restrictions and limit the content their children may be exposed to. Please let us have your feedback and feel free to place the link:https://ssscpd.co.uk/parentsandguardians/parental-controls on your websites as a free parent resource. If there are any other resources you’d like us to provide let us know!

Record high of pre birth “children in need”

Latest Department for Education annual figures, published last month, reveal there were concerns about 400,000 children identified as children in need. Domestic violence, parents with mental health problems, and drug and alcohol abuse are among the biggest factors impacting on the children’s health or development, making them more likely to be at risk of significant impairment without extra support.

More than 7,000 of such vulnerable children fall into this category before their birth, leading to pre-birth child protection plans or other social services / local authority intervention. The annual figures (2018-19) record a new high of 7,360 children considered as vulnerable before their birth, a figure which has risen steadily over recent years.

The statistics show abuse or neglect to be the biggest concerns, together with family dysfunction, family in acute stress, parents’ disability or illness and low income factors. More than 50% of children in need cases, over 200,000 incidents, involved domestic violence.

Commenting on the latest figures, the Local Government Association (LGA) said:

“It is absolutely vital that councils are able to support families and help children who are at risk of significant harm, but it is also important that help is available before problems escalate to that point.”

The LGA has also raised concerns about children in need for reasons “linked to faith or belief”, which had risen by 320 to 1,950 cases, stating that some cases include beliefs in witchcraft or “spirit possession”.

Man who blamed baby’s brain damage on a puppy jailed

Paul Carlton has been found guilty of attempted murder despite his claims that the injuries to a baby boy in his care had been caused by a puppy. Carlton was looking after the boy while the baby’s mother went for a beauty appointment and lunch with her sister.

Carlton told jurors he had been briefly tidying his garden and had left the child on a baby swing in the flat. He claimed he heard a “loud cry” from the boy who he had left alone in the flat with his two dogs, one a cross breed American Bulldog-Staffordshire terrier puppy. He stated that he realised something was wrong when he went back into the flat and the boy was not opening his eyes properly. Carlton told the jury he could only “speculate” that the dog had seriously injured the baby.

The baby boy had no bite marks or cuts associated with a possible dog attack and when Professor Robin Sellar, a neuroradiologist, was asked in court how the injuries could have occurred he told jurors: “In that time frame, something very dramatic has happened. The injuries are consistent with a shaking injury.”

The eight-week-old boy, who has been left with severe brain injuries and cannot crawl, walk or talk, is now wholly dependent on his mother and the support of others.

Sentencing Carlton for 12 years, Judge Lord Burns said: “These cases are always tragic. The boy has been rendered helpless by your actions. He was as vulnerable a child as could possibly be imagined. You have tried to deflect responsibility by various means but the jury found you guilty.”

Jodie Chesney murderers sentenced

In follow up to the report in our last bulletin, the two teenagers found guilty earlier this month of the brutal and unprovoked murder of 17-year-old Jodie Chesney in Harold Hill have been jailed.

Jodie, who was stabbed once in the back when sitting with a group of friends in a park, died due to a combination of shock and haemorrhage.

Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 and Arron Isaacs, 17, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.

Following the conviction of Ong-A-Kwie and Isaacs, DCI Whellams said:

“Jodie’s life was ended in the most brutal way by Svenson Ong-A-Kwie and Arron Isaacs, and I hope her family and friends feel some measure of justice has been served. On that Friday in March, Jodie was not in the wrong place at the wrong time, she was simply living her life as a teenager should – carefree and with her friends.”

Commander for the East Area Borough Command Unit, Detective Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman, also said:

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies remain with Jodie’s family as sentencing is today passed down to the two people responsible for her murder. It has almost been nine months since Jodie was killed in Harold Hill, and nothing could ever have justified the extinguishing of her young life. Havering, like many boroughs across London, has experienced the tragic and inexcusable loss of young life as a result of knife-related violence. This is why bearing down on violent crime on the streets of our capital continues to be the Met’s top priority. We will continue to work tirelessly – day and night – to identify and pursue offenders, help bring perpetrators to justice, take weapons off the street, support victims, engage and reassure the public, and keep our communities safe.”

In an impact statement, Jodie’s father Peter Chesney said: 

“The murder of my beloved daughter has destroyed my life and the full extent as to how this has affected my family and me cannot possibly be explained simply in words. I have no idea how I am going to continue with my life or even come to terms with the loss.”

£700,000 compensation for head teacher sacked after having sex with two 17-year-old boys.

A tribunal has ordered the governing body of Tywyn Primary School, Port Talbot, to pay former Head Teacher Matthew Aplin more than £696,000 in compensation.

Safeguarding issues were raised when the school became aware that Aplin had sex with two teenagers he had met on a gay dating app in August 2015, resulting in the Governing Body’s decision to sack him.

Aplin was accused in May 2016 of “behaviour bringing the school into disrepute, conduct incompatible with the role of the head teacher both which seriously undermined the trust and confidence of the school in its head teacher”

However, in September 2017, a tribunal upheld Mr Aplin’s claims of unfair dismissal and sexual orientation discrimination. The tribunal ruled he was unfairly dismissed and was discriminated against by the school’s investigating officer from Neath Port Talbot council, on the basis he was gay. School governors appealed that decision and lost earlier this year.

The tribunal criticised the governors for “acquiescing” to the wish of the Local Education Authority (LEA) to dismiss Mr Aplin stating: 

“The panel had no understanding of the reasons given for dismissal, the tribunal drew the conclusion that the panel decided upon dismissal but were entirely reliant on the LEA advisers for its reasoning.”

However, it found Mr Aplin would not have been treated differently by the governors if he was heterosexual, and they would have followed the LEA advisers either way. In its decision, the tribunal noted Mr Aplin had found it difficult to obtain new employment close to his home, which he believed was because he was being “deliberately undermined”. Since September last year, he has been working as a teacher at a primary school in the Merthyr area on a series of temporary contracts.

New guide to help primary teachers deliver LGBT-inclusive curriculum.

A new resource is now available which offers practical support and ideas for primary schools to include issues around lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and families into their lessons.

The free resource, published by Stonewall and education publisher Pearson has been produced in response to research carried out by the charity which found that two in five pupils (40 per cent) are not taught anything about LGBT issues and nearly half (45 per cent) of LGBT young people are bullied because of their gender identity.

The resource contains a glossary for pupils and staff, as well as example lesson plans and tips on building LGBT role models into the curriculum. It also advises providing examples in lessons that refer to different family arrangements where children might be looked after by same sex parents.

Launching the new resource, Sidonie Bertrand-Shelton, head of education programmes at Stonewall, said:

“Our new school guide will support primary school teachers and leaders to deliver an LGBT-inclusive curriculum so every young person feels safe, included and able to reach their full potential.”

Seven Staffordshire residents charged with child sex offences

Following an investigation by Staffordshire Police’s Child Protection and Exploitation Team, three men and four teenage boys from Burton-on-Trent have appeared at South Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court charged with serious sexual offences involving children.

David Korosi, 25, was charged with two counts of sexual assault and rape of a girl aged 13 to 15.  Adrian Demeter, 19, was charged with rape of a girl aged 13 to 15 and sexual assault. 

Jeno Maka, 18, was charged with causing/inciting a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity.

Four boys, two aged 15 and two aged 16, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were also charged with sexual offences against a child. One of the 16-year-olds was also charged with burglary and theft.

Leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales gives evidence to IICSA

Giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has said the Church was “shocked to the core” by child sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the clergy.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said the community had struggled to cope with “the presence of evil embodied in its members”. He went on to add that although the Church’s culture had improved “radically” in recent years, there was still “more to achieve”.

Giving evidence for the second time to the Inquiry, Archbishop Nichols said he had learned lessons about tackling abuse at a summit called by the Pope at the Vatican for senior bishops. He told the inquiry the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales had already implemented some of the measures discussed at the summit.

Lead counsel for the inquiry, Brian Altman QC, asked if he believed there was still much to improve, despite major inquiries held in 2001 and 2007. The cardinal replied: “The culture of the Catholic Church today is radically different from 2001 or even 2007, but I do think there’s much, much more to achieve.”

In response, Richard Scorer, specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, acting on behalf of 27 abuse victims in the inquiry, said: “Cardinal Nichols’s evidence will cut little ice with victims. The Catholic Church has spent the last two decades promising to get safeguarding right, but the evidence in this inquiry has exposed these promises as so much hot air.” Mr Scorer said improvements had been “lamentably slow”, treatment of survivors was “consistently poor”. 

Archbishop Nichols was also asked why the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, Monsignor Edward Adams, had refused to give the inquiry a statement about abuse at Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School and specifically why it had taken so long for the Vatican to remove a particularly abusive priest from the Church.

The cardinal said he had stressed the importance of the inquiry to the other members of the clergy but added he was “not a diplomat” and did not understand “the niceties of international law in these things”.

Teenager jailed for Ellie Gould murder

Thomas Griffiths, the teenager who stabbed his 17-year-old girlfriend Ellie Gould has been jailed for life, with a minimum term of 12 years and six months. 

The teenager killed Ellie Gould at her family home in Wiltshire the day after she ended their relationship. Griffiths stabbed Ellie, then attempted to cover up his actions by dumping evidence and texting Ellie’s phone despite knowing she was dead. Forensic post-mortem reports showed that Ellie was stabbed at least 13 times.

Initially Griffiths attempted to cover up the crime by trying to clean his clothing to avoid forensic links and by telling neighbours and mutual friends on a group phone chat that he had started to self-harm because of the break up and exam stress in a bid to explain scratch marks to his neck obtained during the murder.

Griffiths, who was arrested just hours after the murder, initially denied involvement however later pleaded guilty to the murder.

22,000 young people face homelessness in England this Christmas

A new report by the youth homeless charity Centrepoint has revealed the extent of the issue of homelessness facing 16- to 25-year-olds this winter.

The charity sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all 326 councils in England asking how many 16- to 25-year-olds had presented as homeless or were at risk of becoming homeless last winter. A total of 248 councils responded. Under the Homelessness Reduction Act local councils must take the details of all people presenting to them as homeless.

The research suggests that between November this year and January 2020, more than 22,000 young people will seek help for homelessness, however this does not include data for a significant number of young people classed as “hidden homeless”. In a poll by the charity Centrepoint, almost three quarters of young people polled said they had stayed in abusive or overcrowded homes, sofa-surfed or slept rough.  The poll showed that:

  • 37% had stayed in an abusive home with a parent or guardian;
  • 46% stayed in an overcrowded property because they had nowhere else to stay;
  • 33% of young people spent a night in a park because they had nowhere else to stay;
  • 27% had spent a night in a tent;
  • 7% of young people had spent the night in a public toilet.

Of more than 200 people who participated in the survey, 4 in 10 said homelessness had made it more difficult to access education and more than two thirds said it had affected their mental health.

Centrepoint is calling on HM Government to change Universal Credit, which limits the amount of money available to young people to pay rent.

Additional funding for schools blighted by youth violence

Schools in areas of London blighted by youth violence will receive £4.7m to prevent children from being excluded and to better protect them after school hours. Researchthis year found that violence incidents involving young people are more likely to happen at the end of the school day.

The money, awarded through the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s Violence Reduction Unit will be used to: train teachers and staff in identifying and supporting young people who are at risk of committing violence or becoming victims; help teachers and staff reduce violence and challenging behaviour; better support pupils in high-crime areas; provide peer support schemes and after- school activities. The action is seen as crucial to reducing the number of children who are excluded from school, who are at a greater risk of becoming involved in violence according to the mayor’s research. The research found that excluded pupils are particularly vulnerable to exploitation from criminal gangs.

In a statement Khan said:

“Evidence shows that nine out of 10 young people in custody have been excluded. That’s why London’s VRU is investing in a package of measures to support schools to reduce exclusions and support young Londoners with the most complex needs.”

The funding also aims to help pupils better cope with the transition from primary to secondary school, including offering summer schools and peer mentoring as pupils make this change in their education.

Pupils call for online sexual harm lessons from outside agencies

A new report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) shows that less than half (43%) of primary school pupils found lessons on online sexual harm at their schools “very helpful” and only 28% of secondary school students deemed their own experience of education about online sexual harm “very relevant” to what they had encountered themselves. In addition, 65% of young people said they would prefer to be taught by someone other than their teachers, preferring classes to be delivered in school but by a young person with experience of or expertise in online sexual harm “because it is coming from someone who knows what they are talking about”.

Issues of credibility related to teachers’ familiarity with the current social media landscape were also raised by young people. The majority felt that they had more extensive online experience than most teachers educating them on the topic.

The inquiry surveyed 213 young people aged 10 to 18 years old and held a focus group with 45 young people aged 14 to 16. Nine 13 to 20-year olds who had experienced online sexual harm while under the age of 18 were also interviewed.

Earlier this year the Department for Education published guidance on teaching online safety in schools.

Modern slavery in Birmingham soars

New statistics published by the Home Office show that the number of modern slavery cases has continued to remain at an alarmingly high level across the West Midlands this year. Of the 293 cases of suspected modern slavery taken place, around 70% of cases involved children.

Looking at cases from West Midlands Police as well as local councils, there were 86 cases in the first quarter of this year. The potential victims included a Vietnamese woman and a Polish man in domestic servitude, 35 cases of labour exploitation involving adults and children from 8 different countries, 4 cases of adult women and 2 underage girls being sexually exploited and two cases of unknown exploitation of Vietnamese men.

Across the UK, 2019 has seen a dramatic rise in modern slavery cases and the number of potential victims referred in the first three quarters of 2019 has already surpassed the 2018 total. Shockingly, the figures for the most recent quarter also included 3 cases where people were referred after potentially having their organs harvested. (In 2018 there were 6 cases of potential organ harvesting).

The Home Office suggest that a rise in county lines criminal activity is behind the increase in young people being exploited for their labour.

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