Children at risk through ‘multiple dangers’

Findings from a survey conducted by the charity Barnardo’s has revealed that 58.6% of their service managers had supported a young person involved in crime in the past year. Of those, 72.3% thought the young person had been ‘coerced, controlled, deceived or manipulated by others into criminal activity.’ The emerging threat of ‘Multiple dangers‘ includes exploitation such as young people being forced to carry weapons, forced to carry and sell drugs, or be subjected to sexual exploitation and abuse. More than half of service managers (63.4%) said that in their experience children who were criminally exploited were also the victims of sexual abuse and 79.6% thought that technology played an important role in enabling criminal exploitation. Last year 301,100 children, young people, parents and carers were supported by Barnardo’s.

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Trial Mental Health Assessments

The Department for Education has announced that their plans to trial mental health assessments for children entering the care system, delayed due to the election, will get underway in 2018. The scheme will identify a child’s mental health and wellbeing needs and if referral to more specialist services is needed. Current statistics indicate that 50% of all children in care meet the criteria for a possible mental health disorder, compared with one in 10 children outside the care system. The pilot areas, yet to be announced, will benefit from a share of £650,000 to deliver the programme. £150,000 has also been awarded to carry out an independent evaluation to look at the effectiveness and impact of the pilot schemes. The University of Huddersfield is to carry out a survey of 10,000 children and young people across the UK in a major study to investigate whether being a victim of child abuse can lead to mental health problems. Professor Daniel Boduszek, a co-director of the project, has stated ‘We strongly believe that (child abuse and neglect experiences) can link not only to anxiety, depression and self-harm, but also to development of psychopathic traits.’ The UK survey is one of five taking place across the world, with the research team carrying out similar-scale exercises in China, Uganda, Jamaica and India and the team hope to complete their analysis of the 50,000 responses in 2019.

DFE Report on Bullying

A DFE report has shown girls are much more likely than boys to be bullied at school, with almost twice as many on the receiving end of cyberbullying and social exclusion by other pupils. Whilst the figures revealed a decline in reports of bullying overall, particularly incidents of violent bullying which mainly affects boys, girls reported a rise in bullying with more than one in three telling researchers they had been affected in the previous year. For girls the most common form of bullying was name calling and social exclusion, where one in five girls reported being a victim. Only one in four boys said they had been victims of bullying in any form. Other key findings include:

  • 10% of the children reported being affected by cyberbullying;
  • SEND children reported much higher incidents of bullying than other pupils. This supports the focus of the revised KCSIE 2018 direction for staff to consider safeguarding on an equal footing with SEND;
  • pupils who were victims of bullying received lower GCSE results than peers who hadn’t been bullied however, as the researchers state ‘this simple correlation does not demonstrate causation between bullying and lower GCSE performance; there are likely to be many other factors involved’.

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To find out more about our Child Protection for Administration Staff course click here

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Prevent retained by HM Government

HM Government retains Prevent anti-radicalisation programme HM Government’s anti-radicalisation initiative Prevent is to be retained as part of the revised counter-terrorism strategy. Home Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed it will remain a ‘vital part’ of the government’s counterterrorism work stating ‘I recognise the criticisms, but I absolutely support it. Misapprehensions around Prevent are often based on distortions. They are based on a lack of understanding about the grassroots work that is involved, and the efforts by civil society groups and public-sector workers to protect vulnerable people. We have a moral and social obligation to safeguard vulnerable people from the twisted propaganda of those seeking to radicalise them. And Prevent is about doing just that.’ The counter-terrorism strategy, Contest is informed by latest research and secret intelligence, incorporating lessons learned from and response to the 2017 terror attacks. Under the new proposals announced for Contest, three new multi-agency centre (MAC) pilots will be held in London, Manchester and the West Midlands involving a wide range of partners, including government departments and local authorities, to help improve the government’s understanding of those at risk of becoming involved in terrorism.

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Working together to safeguard children 2018 – key elements

The publication of this revised 2015 statutory guidance follows on from the HM Government consultation process and sets out the changes necessary to support the new systems of multi-agency working for safeguarding directed by the Children and Social Work Act 2017. There are 5 key areas of change to consider:

  1. Multi-agency safeguarding arrangements – the requirement for councils to have Local Safeguarding Children Boards is removed and a ‘safeguarding partnership’ introduced. Each member of this tri-partnership, consisting of Local Authorities, Chief of Police Officers and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), has an equal and joint responsibility for safeguarding arrangements. They are required to formulate arrangements for working together with other ‘relevant agencies’ to safeguard children in their local area. The tri-partnership will provide strategic leadership to develop methods of coordinating safeguarding services, setting this out formally in published arrangements. In such arrangements, the partnership must formally identify the ‘relevant agencies’ who will then have a statutory duty to cooperate under the published local arrangements. Given their remit, it is highly likely that schools, academies, colleges and other educational establishments will be named as ‘relevant agencies’. The partnership must also ensure that learning from local and national serious safeguarding incidents is implemented. Currently, 1 in 3 councils are yet to consider how they will replace Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) with the new tri-partnership arrangements for multi-agency working. A DFE survey found that 34% of councils had not considered the implications, or started formulating plans, but ‘planned to in the future’. Of the 66% that had considered the impact, there was ‘some concern’ expressed over the requirement to move from existing partnerships to the new arrangements which included concerns about reduced funding and partners’ engagement. In addition, HM Government has also published guidance to assist the transition towards meeting the new arrangements and on information sharing.
  2. Assessment, help & support– the guidance strengthens the emphasis on preventative working with early / timely intervention, with a focus of being alert to known groups / situations where the need for early intervention is likely. This includes children:
  • who may be at risk of radicalisation, modern slavery, trafficking and all forms of exploitation;
  • SEND children (including those without statutory Education, Health and Care Plans);
  • demonstrating signs of commencing anti-social or criminal behaviour. This includes gang involvement and association with organised crime e.g. county lines, financial exploitation;
  • frequently missing from home or care;
  • returning home from having been in care;
  • that are privately fostered;
  • misusing drugs or alcohol;
  • whose family circumstances present challenges e.g. domestic abuse, substance misuse, adult mental health issues;
  • who are young carers.

Additionally, the guidance includes sections on:

  • contextual safeguarding;
  • assessment of disabled children and their carers, young carers and those in secure youth establishments;
  • information sharing.
  1. Child Death Reviews- alongside the introduction of the new tri-partnership arrangements, previously statutory Child Death Overview Panels (CDOPs) are replaced by the requirement for ‘child death review partners’ who will determine arrangements to review child deaths. This includes reviews of all deaths of children normally resident in the local area and, if deemed appropriate, any non-resident child who has died in the locality.
  1. Local and National Practice Reviews– nationally from 29th June 2018, a Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel will consider all notifications of serious incidents. They will identify and oversee reviews of serious child safeguarding cases regarded as complex or of national importance. They are also tasked with identifying and publishing a list of potential reviewers who may undertake national reviews. Locally each new tri-partnership must identify serious child safeguarding cases and raise any issues of importance for their area with the national panel. Tri-partnerships are responsible for commissioning and supervising reviewers undertaking local reviews. Full information on the rapid review process is contained within the guidance.
  2. Positions of Trust– The guidance contains a new section on ‘people in positions of trust’. All organisations working with children and families must have clear policies for dealing with allegations made against people working with children. The guidance also makes it clear that those working with children in a voluntary unpaid capacity are subject to the same safeguarding responsibilities as paid employees. Working together to safeguard children 2018 can be located at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children–2

 

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Call for independent inquiry – Family Courts handling of Domestic Abuse

Women’s Aid is calling for HM Government to commission an independent inquiry into the family courts to tackle the failings highlighted in their joint study with Queen Mary University of London. The study found that victims of domestic violence continue to be crossexamined by their abusers in family courts more than a year after the former justice secretary, Liz Truss, pledged to ban the ‘humiliating and appalling’ practice. Survivors reflected they were repeatedly not believed, felt blamed for experiencing abuse, and seen as unstable by judges, barristers and Cafcass officers. Almost a quarter of survivors (24%) surveyed said they had been cross-examined by their abusive ex-partner and 61% said there was no special protection e.g. separate waiting rooms, different entry/exit times, screens or video links. Unsupervised contact with an abusive parent was the most frequent outcome in cases sampled by the study with more than two thirds reporting that their abusive ex-partner had also been emotionally abusive towards a child and 38% said children had been physically abused.

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FGM – latest statistics

FGM Latest NHS figures reveal that 6,195 women and girls were treated for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the past financial year. Of the 6,195 treated, 4,495 were newly recorded cases (the first time they have appeared in the dataset) and 70 treated were under the age of 18. Leethen Bartholomew, lead for the National FGM Centre has called for agencies to work better together to prosecute those who fail to protect girls from FGM. The 2017 – 2018 statistical report, published by NHS Digital, can be accessed at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/ female-genital-mutilation/female-genital-mutilation-fgm—annualreport-2017-18

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FOI- Modern slavery

Following a request made under the Freedom of Information Act by The Times, only 6% of crimes recorded by police forces under the Modern Slavery Act have led to charges since the legislation was introduced in 2015. Of the 5,145 suspected slaves referred to the national safeguarding programme last year, 2,118 or (41%) were under 18. Exploitation of children and teenagers increased 66% on the previous year, with total referrals up from 3,804. Questions have been raised about police forces’ ability to adequately investigate modern slavery, with examples such as West Midlands police who recorded 295 offences in 2 years, but only 4 charges, and Thames Valley police who recorded 118 offences with only 2 charges. Children are routinely duped by slave gangs to come to the UK on the promise of holidays, modelling contracts and football trials. In reality the children are exploited, being used as child prostitutes, forced into domestic servitude / labour or in the drug industry. The UK Anti-slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, stated that he had: ‘met children brought from Nigeria, for example, expecting to play for some of the best football teams in the country. But they were just lured on that promise and then when they arrived were exploited in many ways, whether that be sexual exploitation or forced labour.’

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) Interim Report 2018 released.

The interim findings of the IICSA published in April 2018 are now available. The interim report, focused on child sexual abuse in Rochdale from the early 1960s to mid-1990s, examines placements of children made by Rochdale Council with particular regard to the institutional responses of the council, police and the Crown Prosecution Service. The report describes the former leader of Rochdale Council, Richard Farnell’s refusal to accept responsibility for events described in the enquiry as ‘shameful’. (Farnell resigned weeks after giving evidence to the Inquiry). The findings, which highlight how council-run establishments failed to keep children safe from harm, found staff at Knowl View school complacent and arguably complicit. Following evidence given re the sexual abuse at Cambridge House Boys’ Hostel, the report also details lost opportunities in recognising and prosecuting the then Rochdale MP Cyril Smith, also Honorary Secretary of the hostel, in relation to allegations of sexual abuse. Recommendation is also made that the HM Government ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, known as the Lanzarote Convention, and that that steps should be taken to make the UK fully compliant by June 2018.

The full report can be accessed at:

https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents/5368/view/Full%20Interim%20 Report%20of%20the%20Independent%20Inquiry%20into%20Child%20 Sexual%20Abuse.pdf

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Domestic Abuse Consultation to close shortly

The Domestic Abuse Consultation sets out HM Government’s approach to dealing with domestic abuse. Seeking to address this abuse at every stage from prevention, this consultation is wide-ranging seeking views on both legislative proposals and a package of practical action. The consultation questions cover four main themes with the central aim of prevention running through each, namely:

  • promote awareness – to put domestic abuse at the top of everyone’s agenda, and raise public and professionals’ awareness;
  • protect and support – to enhance the safety of victims and the support that they receive;
  • pursue and deter – to provide an effective response to perpetrators from initial agency response through to conviction and management of offenders, including rehabilitation;
  • improve performance – to drive consistency and better performance in the response to domestic abuse across all local areas, agencies and sectors.

The consultation, which closes on 31st May 2018 can be accessed at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/homeoffice-moj/domestic-abuse-consultation/

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