Children in London at risk because of “serious failings” by Met Police

Following recent criticism in the handling of child missing cases and aspects of the serial killer Stephen Port investigation, today has seen further pressure on police forces to improve their child protection arrangements following the damming findings of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary on the London Metropolitan police’s performance in dealing with child sexual abuse.

Inspectors findings revealed that in over 75% of cases reviewed, practice was judged to be inadequate or in need of improvement. Much of the report focused on failings in leadership and management together with a lack of information sharing (internally and externally) however, the most worrying aspect revealed by the report is that staff, including child sexual exploitation officers, had not received any CSE training.

In a statement responding to the findings, the Met reassured the public that officers were “dedicated to protecting vulnerable young people” but, whilst no one would challenge the Met’s commitment to protect vulnerable children, surely high quality CSE training is a key priority to enable best practice.

In response, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has stated the report findings are “simply unacceptable and things must change” and plans to improve the service with “a new independent group of child protection experts”. Whilst this response is welcomed and will no doubt inform improvement, it falls short from addressing the key issue, that of failure to invest in high quality CSE cpd training for Met officers.

As we have seen in education, health and social care settings, without this investment practice will simply not improve and children will remain at risk.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out more about our Child Sexual Exploitation course click here

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here

Louis Theroux “Savile” documentary

There has been much media comment on this week’s BBC2 Savile documentary, where Louis Theroux bravely reflected on his much publicised previous contact and friendship with Jimmy Savile. Filmed nearly five years after Savile’s death, Theroux set out to explore how someone so much in public eye could dupe those around him. Whilst it is understandable that the victims he preyed upon felt unable to expose the true Savile, it would be naïve to believe that his colleagues, friends and associates had no concerns over his behaviour. Indeed, as the footage from the first Theroux documentary revealed he blatantly displayed inappropriate behaviour in public settings which was not questioned or challenged.

But that is the MO of the abuser. They are coercive, exert control and have the ability to manipulate those around them to believe challenge unthinkable. Even an investigative reporter of Theroux’s calibre was, as a victim described, “hoodwinked”.

What this documentary demonstrates is that, without a sense of collective responsibility and sharing of information, working in silos enables perpetrators to exploit. As many child abuse cases have shown, infrastructures for multi-agency information sharing are still not robust. Current models must be further developed to enable everyone to feel confident in reacting to child abuse. Only then will we move away from a blame culture, which impacts negatively on information sharing, to clear accountability.

Sadly, even though Dame Janet Smith’s report revealed 72 people were sexually abused by Saville whilst he was employed by the BBC, there will be no criminal investigation of the damming and disturbing evidence of his victims and they are left to come to terms with this. Although clearly disturbed by his own failure to question Savile’s behaviour sixteen years ago, one must praise Theroux for the honesty portrayed in his new documentary. Like many people left in a similar situation he will undoubtedly continue to ask himself should I have done more?

Hello from the new home of safeguarding

UK teachers are now being trained individually online how to identify those at risk or suffering from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and protect Britain’s young girls from extreme child abuse.

Developed by SSS Learning as a ‘much needed’ catalyst for change in safeguarding training the hour-long course is fully CPD-accredited and certifies individual educators, replacing ‘often insufficient’ traditional group training methods.

“Performed both in the UK and abroad on girls as young as three years old, FGM is a complex, cross-cultural issue which requires a thorough understanding of its origins, forms and how to efficiently identify those at risk” says SSS Learning Director Sam Preston.

As a former local authority child protection expert, Sam feels, when planning training it is vital “to consider that members of staff in all likelihood will have varied levels of understanding of the topic which may also include knowledge which is not evidence based, making individual assessment critical to ensure that the desired learning outcomes are properly understood.”

Historically, most training is delivered by INSET sessions on-site which is problematic. It relies on the provider having the specialist area skillset which may not be setting or inspection requirement specific, learning is not fully evaluated and those absent or staff recruited post INSET have to wait for refresher training which may be as long as a year later.

New statutory requirements for all professionals in relation to the reporting of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) were introduced in October 2015. By completing this module, teachers will gain the latest information on this topic, legislative requirements and a clear understanding of their role in supporting those affected and reporting pathways.

The course also meets the Department for Education (DfE) 2016 Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance which emphasizes the importance of regular updates and annual safeguarding / child protection training.

Sam adds: “Fundamentally, FGM is child abuse under UK law, and it is our mandatory duty to safeguard both those we deem vulnerable, and those where intervention has been too late. This new course will help every educator play an ever vital role in our cross-disciplinary approach to FGM child protection.”

The organisation works with over 60,000 frontline professionals across the education, healthcare & third/voluntary sectors.

Please visit ssscpd.co.uk or follow us on Twitter (@SSSLearning) for more info.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out more about our FGM course click here

To find out about our safeguarding suite click here

Train, not blame!

Whilst the recommendations of the Home Office Affairs Committee on FGM released today are welcomed, in reality how practically can we expect rapid progress within educational settings? As the report correctly identifies, FGM is child abuse and should be a key area of safeguarding for all frontline practitioners. However, in my experience as a safeguarding advisor the quality and current level of training inadequately prepares teachers and support staff to fulfil their FGM prevention, awareness reporting roles. In fact, I have never visited a school where the impact of FGM training has been assessed or evaluated in practice.

The call yet again for PSHE to be made a statutory part of the curriculum and include discussing FGM with pupils will require teachers to have a sound knowledge base together with transferable practice skills when FGM concerns are raised. The only way this can be achieved is by access to high quality training where learning is firmly embedded. I believe it is time to revisit traditional training models in schools and academies. Currently, training is delivered by INSET sessions on-site which is problematic. It relies on the provider having the specialist area skillset which may not be setting or inspection requirement specific, learning is not fully evaluated and those absent have to wait for refresher training which may be as long as a year later. Surely e-learning has a key role to play to reassure leadership that all new staff are trained as part of their induction and existing staff gain secure subject knowledge. This offers the opportunity for any further training to be setting specific, where bespoke protocols can be developed by informed staff.

On the BBC today Naz Shah MP, a member of the FGM Home Affairs Committee, stated frontline practitioners should lose their jobs if they fail to report FGM but perhaps her attention would be better focused on how we enable them to deliver a very full safeguarding remit.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article.

To find out more about our FGM course click here

To find out about our safeguarding suite click here