Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 10th October 2019

Welcome to our Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.

Knife crime- FOI reveals top 25 most dangerous cities

Over recent months, the increase in knife crime has become a common focus of news coverage with London featuring as one of the most dangerous cities with almost 15,000 knife crimes recorded last year. However latest analysis of police statistics suggests the rate of knife attacks in regional towns and cities is higher than in many of the London boroughs.

Data collected from 34 police forces, obtained by the BBC from a Freedom of Information Request, reveals that serious knife crime offences are rising sharply, exceeding London borough figures, in other cities. Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Blackpool and Slough are within the top 25 most dangerous cities in England and Wales for serious knife crime.

The data also reveals a worrying upward trend across other regional areas, such as Lancashire where knife crime offences have doubled over the last five years (981 offences in 2018 compared to 455 in 2014). As police crime statistics are collected differently in Scotland it is only possible to measure knife possession, also on the increase with more than 2,300 crimes reported in 2018. The safest areas, with less than one crime per 10,000 people, includes Dorset, Monmouthshire the Cotswolds and Malvern.

Last year, almost half of all suspects in serious knife crime offences in England and Wales, were aged 24 and under. Drugs gangs (including County Lines), school exclusion rates, poverty, unemployment and cuts to services are all factors blamed for a rise in youth violence. Deprivation is seen as a key factor in children and teenagers’ engagement in this behaviour, where they carry out illegal activity to support households. Blackpool, which Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures reveal has eight out of the ten of the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, is also listed in the top 25 most dangerous places for knife crime.

In 2018, 15% of knife crime suspects were female. It is thought that there may be deliberate recruitment of girls and young women being exploited to carry weapons because they are much less likely to be stopped and searched by police.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on tackling serious violent crime, Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire, has blamed police funding cuts for the fall in charge rates saying:

“The large reduction in police funding since 2010 has meant fewer detectives with less time and a bigger workload taking on long investigations, meaning it can be more difficult to get a charge.”

According to a Home Office spokesperson, 20,000 new police officers will be recruited over the next three years and £10m in additional ring-fenced funding will allow forces to increase the number of officers carrying Tasers.

However, as reported in our last newsletter, there has been criticism of HM Government plans to introduce new laws to tackle knife crime. Children’s services leaders warn that controversial proposals such as Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs), may negatively impact on relationships between the police and local communities. The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has also questioned what equality measures will be put in place to prevent a disproportionate increase in the use of KCPOs. (Half of young people in youth custody are from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities). The Association have also called for guidance to include details of circumstances in which it is deemed appropriate to seek an order without “tangible evidence” of knife carrying.

£20m funding for National County Lines Co-ordination Centre

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced a £20m funding package is to be made available to support child victims and disrupt “county lines” activity. The funding will be used to expand the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to offer a specialist support service for victims and their families. 

In her speech at the Conservative Party conference, the Home Secretary said the additional funding would stop gangs: “terrorising our towns and villages and exploiting our children”.

The extra money will be used to grow the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to increase its capacity at regional and national level, enabling it to employ extra officers and staff and offer strategic resources to regional organised crime units. Dedicated teams from the British Transport Police will also be based at railway stations across England, earmarked as key hubs for county lines drug trafficking. Investment will also be made in automatic number plate recognition to proactively target vehicles suspected of being used in “county lines” activity.

Since its launch a year ago, the centre has made more than 1,800 arrests and safeguarded 2,400 vulnerable people, of which more than 1,000 were children.

Scottish smacking ban

Scotland has become the first country in the UK to legislate and make it a criminal offence for parents to smack their children. The ban on all physical punishment, which was backed overwhelmingly by 84 votes to 29 by the Scottish Parliament this month, will give children in Scotland the same protection from assaults as adults. Under current Scots law, all physical attacks on adults can be treated as assault however children do not have the same protection. This is because a person accused of assaulting of a child can claim a defence of “reasonable chastisement” or “justifiable assault” when they have used physical force as a form of discipline on children under the age of 16.

The smacking ban bill was introduced by Scottish Green Party MSP John Finnie, a former police officer, who won the support of the SNP, Labour and Lib Dems as well as his own party and many children’s charities. Mr Finnie said the ban would “send a strong message that violence is never acceptable in any setting” stating there was “irrefutable” evidence of physical punishment damaging children, that it is not an effective form of discipline and that it can escalate into physical abuse. The ban was opposed by the Scottish Conservatives, who claimed the bill was bad legislation that risks criminalising “good parents” for using “reasonable chastisement”.

Sweden was the first country in the world to ban smacking in the home, Scotland is the 58th to do so. Whilst Wales is also on the verge of introducing a ban there are not currently any plans for England or Northern Ireland to follow suit. Northern Ireland has similar legal provisions to those currently in place in England and Wales. Ireland banned smacking in 2015.

New research project to support vulnerable children

The Economic and Social Research Council, ESRC, has launched a new £1.9m four-year research project aimed at finding better ways to protect vulnerable children from the threat of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and “county lines” drug dealing.

The project will investigate how local authority social care systems can improve their safeguarding work with vulnerable children. The project will examine the risks children and young people face in areas of criminal exploitation including CSE and gang association.

Abuse between children, known as peer-on-peer abuse, is another safeguarding issue the project will explore.

The overall aim of the evidence-based project is to gather information to assist local authorities better support and protect children and young people. The research will scrutinise the work of six councils focussing on three specific areas of safeguarding work:

Trauma-informed practice – the potentially long-lasting impact on young people’s mental health when dealing with adversity and trauma in their life;

Transitional safeguarding – safeguarding issues when young people are making the transition from childhood to adulthood;

Contextual safeguarding – an approach to understanding and responding to risk and young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families.

The project is being co-ordinated by academics at the University of Sussex, involving researchers at the University of Bedfordshire, which has developed work around contextual safeguarding over the last six years, together with Research in PracticeBecome and the Innovation Unit

On behalf of the University of Bedfordshire, contextual safeguarding programme head Dr Carlene Firmin MBE (who will directly work on the project) stated: 

“We are thrilled to be partnering others in this project at a critical point in the development of contextual safeguarding as more as areas beyond those with whom we are directly working – begin to take up and develop the approach.”

CAWNs used combat CSE & “County Lines”

In recent years Child Abduction Warning Notices (CAWNs) have become a valuable safeguarding tool. Now they are also being used in the fight against Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), particularly when served upon members of “county lines” criminal networks to prevent children being harboured.

CAWNs may be used by police and social workers as a preventative tool to protect children from people who may place them at risk. They can be an effective safeguarding measure in combatting potentially exploitative situations, such as inappropriate associations or relationships, for children who regularly go missing for periods of time and where there are risks of CSE. Colloquially known as “Harbourers Warnings”, CAWNs are issued as a warning to people believed to be harbouring children, alerting the respondent that authorities are aware of their involvement with a child.

As they are not within the remit of any legislative statute a breach of a notice is not in itself a criminal offence. Where breaches occur actual offences are dealt with through existing legislation such as Section 49 of the Children Act or Section 2 of the Child Abduction Act. However, CAWNs are proving to be an effective early warning deterrent measure and an important tool in combating increasing exploitative abuse such as “county lines”.

Domestic Abuse Bill moves a step closer to becoming law

As the Domestic Abuse Bill progresses on its pathway through parliament, local authorities have stated that investment in children’s services and prevention is crucial to the success of the revived Bill. 

Prior to the second reading in the House of Commons, the Local Government Association (LGA) stated: 

“In order for the bill to have real success in tackling domestic abuse and creating consistency of services, it must be underpinned by adequate, long-term funding in key services including children’s services and housing.”

The association is also advocating a cross-government approach for prevention of domestic violence and early intervention to the problem, involving Health, Housing and Education.

Former children’s minister Tim Loughton has also called for local domestic abuse commissioners to be appointed to ensure councils are protecting vulnerable children and families. Describing the current system of support as a “postcode lottery”, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham voiced support for the planned appointment of a national domestic abuse commissioner but also believes that local commissioners are also needed to ensure that councils are properly supporting children with experience of, or at risk of, living in violent households.

FGM- labia elongation

Here at SSS Learning we are dedicated to raising awareness of the practice known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and highlighting safeguarding protection against this type of abuse and support for victims. This week we are highlighting a form of FGM often misinterpreted or not recognised as a form of this harmful and dangerous practice- labia elongation.

Labia elongation or stretching is a cultural custom, originating and practiced in parts of Eastern and South Africa and countries in the South Pacific region. However, due to migration, this practice is a global safeguarding concern. In the UK it is practiced in migrant communities originating from areas where labia elongation is culturally accepted. The process is deemed by communities as a young girl’s rite of passage into womanhood.

In the main, the process of labia elongation starts between the ages of 8 to 14 prior to commencement of a girl’s menstruation cycle however it can continue into adulthood. If girls refuse to undertake the process they are often stigmatised, seen as less desirable and isolated by and from their communities.

The two to three-week process involves pulling or stretching the labia minora either manually or by using weights or harnesses. As detailed in World Health Organisation (WHO) information, the procedure is usually started by an elderly woman, designated to perform this task, by placing sticks of a special type to hold the stretched genital parts to prevent them reverting to their original size. The girl is then instructed to pull her genitalia every day to stretch the labia further, adding further sticks to hold the labia as it stretches.

As with other forms of FGM, the effects of labia elongation often severely affect health and wellbeing with symptoms including severe pain, open sores / ulcers, irritation, infection and psychological trauma.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 27th September 2019

Welcome to our Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.

Former HM Government lawyer convicted for Upskirting

Yesterday, Daren Timson-Hunt has become the fourth person to be convicted of upskirting since it was made a crime under new UK legislation in April this year.

The 54-year-old former HM Government lawyer, who was charged with using his mobile phone “for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification”, pleaded guilty last week to “operating equipment” beneath another person’s clothing while at Embankment underground station in July this year.

The first person to be prosecuted under the new legislation was Salim Ahmed, a 33-year-old shop worker. Police observed Ahmed filming over a two-hour period on his phone at the entrance to Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park in north London. Some 16 recordings taken under women’s skirts or dresses were unearthed when his iPhone was confiscated. 

The second individual, Michael Adjetey, was also convicted after CCTV captured him taking photos at a TK Maxx store in Hackney in east London on two consecutive days in July. After being caught, the 28-year-old confessed he had taken hundreds of upskirting pictures.

Thomas Hetherington, 21, was the third person to be successfully convicted after seeking out his upskirting victim at a bus depot in Wakefield. His victim confronted him and directly reported him to the police for the new offence. Hetherington plead guilty in August.

Timson-Hunt was given a 2-year community order which includes a court ordered 35-day programme, 30 days rehabilitation and 60 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to join the sex-offenders register for five years and pay £175 in court costs and victim surcharge.

Social emergency- rising levels of youth violence

Following a recent recommendation of the cross-party Home Affairs Committee to respond to the “social emergency” caused by rising levels of youth violence, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner is calling for police officers and youth workers to be based in schools to help protect pupils from violence.

The report, Guess How Much We Love You- a Manifesto for Children, features key recommendations, which Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield urges all political parties to include in their upcoming general election manifestos. The manifesto recommendations are in response to increased concerns that children are being exposed to serious violence. The report highlights that “in more and more areas of the country, gangs operate openly in streets and parks, and groom increasingly younger children“. 

In addition to the placement of police and youth workers, the report also calls for the next government to:

  • have a child and adolescent mental health counsellor in every school;
  • adequately fund SEND, including pre-statutory support;
  • open schools during evenings, weekends and holidays to provide high quality youth support;
  • establish a cabinet committee for children.

Longfield is also calling for a further extension of the Troubled Families Programmetargeted intervention for families with multiple problems, including crime, anti-social behaviour, truancy, unemployment, mental health problems and domestic abuse, or an equivalent family support system. (The current funding commitment is to April 2021).

Knife crime curfews

In line with new HM Government proposals, curfews could be imposed on children to steer them away from knife crime. Under the proposals, courts in England and Wales will get extra civil powers to tackle concerns about those suspected of carrying bladed weapons and serious violence.

New Home Office draft guidance, as part of the Offensive Weapons Act, reveal plans to introduce Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs). The planned orders can be imposed on any person aged 12 or over if police believe they are carrying a knife and on those who have a previous conviction for a knife crime. In addition to curfews, the proposed orders also include measures to stop persons over the age of 12 meeting or associating with certain people and geographical restrictions i.e. restricting which parts of the country or local areas they can visit.

HM Government has stressed that the proposed orders are aimed at preventing knife crime and are not a punishment. Home Secretary Priti Patel stated “We are cracking down on violent crime. Our Offensive Weapons Act will help to stop acids and knives making their way onto our streets and being used to carry out horrifying attacks.

The proposed orders also have the backing of senior police officers. National Police Chiefs’ Council series violent crime lead Jackie Sebire said: “Knife crime prevention orders will provide police with a further means to help deter young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime. These orders will help to make young people stop and think about the choices and consequences of carrying a knife.

The Metropolitan Police’s violent crime task force lead, Ade Adelekan also stated that: “The Met supports the proposed knife crime prevention orders. We feel they will help to discourage more young people from carrying knives in a positive rather than punitive format, giving them support and pathways away from potential crime or negative influences.

Figures published by the Home Office show an 80% increase in the last five years of knife crime or sharp implement offences in England and Wales, with 43,516* offences in the 12 months ending March 2019. 

*Figures exclude Greater Manchester due to data collection issues.

Increase in child suicide rate prompts mental health “crisis” fears

The marked increase in the number of children dying by suicide has prompted a call for urgent action to address a “crisis” in young people’s mental health support.

Office for National Statistics figures reveal a rise of 13.9% in suicides among 10 to 19-year olds in 2018, 188 recorded, compared with 2017 statistics. Worryingly latest provisional figures indicate this rise is set to continue. Comparing the first 6 months of 2019 to 2018, the number of 15 to 19-year-olds who took their own life shows an increase from 37 to 56, bringing the total to 93 this year so far. Additionally, the number of 10 to 14-year-olds who died by suicide over the same period increased from one to four. Statistics confirm that boys continue to be the higher risk group. From April to June this year 39 boys aged between 15 and 19 took their own life, compared with 17 girls.

Campaigners including the charity Young Minds are calling for HM Government to develop a new strategy to address the causes of young people’s mental ill-health and prioritise early support mechanisms. A survey survey of more than 7,000 young people conducted by the charity cites school pressures, concerns around appearance, bullying and dealing with trauma as having a devastating effect on children’s mental health. The survey also found that two thirds of young people with mental health conditions had been unable to access support when they first needed it and that more than 75% are managing their mental health by themselves.

The Good Childhood report, published in August this year by the Children’s Society, also found that one in five children have concerns about their mental health, with those in living in poverty particularly worried.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Every suicide is a preventable death and we are working urgently with partners across government, businesses and communities to tackle this problem. All councils have a suicide prevention plan in place backed by £25m and we work closely with them to ensure they are effective”.

Domestic Abuse Bill to be progressed

As the suspension of Parliament has now been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court, this now means draft bills already in place may continue their passage through the House of Commons and House of Lords. Great news as this avoids the situation where they would have to be re-tabled, effectively starting the process again. The draft Domestic Abuse Bill, published in January this year, which includes proposals to introduce the first statutory definition of domestic abuse, new legal protections for victims and a range of measures to support women and children, will now continue its passage through the House of Commons. Great news as this legislation is needed and will be an effective safeguarding benchmark.

NCA director of investigations, Nikki Holland said: “Tackling county lines and the misery it causes is a national law enforcement priority”. Research suggests up to 800,000 children live in homes where domestic abuse occurs. Ofsted has previously warned that “far too little” is currently being done to prevent domestic abuse  and to repair the damage it causes afterwards.

Children’s experiences of online harm

Findings from a joint consultation conducted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Children’s Commissioner’s Office reveal children are being exposed to disturbing, abusive and potentially illegal content whilst online. The consultation set out to obtain the views of primary and secondary pupils on the proposals within the Online Harms White Paper and makes for interesting and informative reading.

Both groups were critical when asked how they learn about online safety, stating they felt disengaged by lengthy and repetitive talks. Of particular note the participants said they wanted more creative and engaging online safety sessions and teaching from individuals with relative personal experience. They also felt there should be more education around technical and legal issues e.g. reporting, data collection, privacy and how to interpret terms and conditions documents.

Crucially the findings revealed that online gaming environments were just as important to the children as social media and that they were less likely to report online gaming abuse. The Children’s Commissioner’s Office is currently working on a project looking at the benefits and drawbacks of online gaming which will be published later this year.

“County lines” and modern slavery

As part of the strategy to combat the phenomenon known as “county lines”, the police and National Crime Agency (NCA) officers are using modern slavery legislation to combat gang exploitation of young people. Gang leaders are being warned that they will be treated as child traffickers, not just as drug dealers, if they exploit young people to support their illegal activity.

NCA director of investigations, Nikki Holland said: “Tackling county lines and the misery it causes is a national law enforcement priority”.

As part of the national strategy to combat “county lines”, an operation run by the National County Lines Coordination Centre earlier this year resulted in officers taking action to protect more than 900 people, including more than 350 children, and helping more than 30 people thought to be at risk of human trafficking and modern slavery. 

Click here for more information on our “County Lines” training course (10% discount available on purchases before 30th September 2019).

Please do let us know what you think of the e-Bulletin:

Please feel free to share our e-Bulletin. We are passionate about the role we play in safeguarding children and the more people that know about it the better. They can sign up to our Thursday safeguarding e-Bulletin by clicking here.

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

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here

Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 18th July 2019

This is the last bulletin this academic year. We’ll be back in September and hope you have a well-earned break.

Over the summer, our safeguarding courses will be fully updated in line with KCSIE 2019 ready for September. We will also be releasing Administration of Medication this week and adding our new County Lines course ready for September.

Response to High Court ruling on children’s centres

Campaigners, who have vowed to continue the fight to keep children’s centres despite losing a High Court challenge over local closures, are considering appealing the ruling.

Alka Dass of Save Bucks Children’s Centres, is calling for users to step up their campaigns to protect centres nationally. Following the judicial review ruling, Buckinghamshire County Council plans to go ahead with closing more than half of its Sure Start children’s centres in September. The judge rejected the claim on all grounds, which included accusations that the decision had been made before the consultation ended, and a breach of the county’s duty to ensure there are sufficient childcare services across Buckinghamshire. The judicial review was launched after concerns were raised over the decision to close Millbrook Children’s Centre in High Wycombe.

Following a public consultation in 2018, the council announced it was restructuring provision as part of a drive to save money in the face of budget cuts. The number of children’s centres in Buckinghamshire will be cut from 35 to 14 and the remaining buildings will become family centres and focus on children and young people up to the age of 19, rather than to age 5 as they are currently.

In her ruling relating to a claimed breach of the Childcare Act 2006, Mrs Justice Andrews said she was satisfied that the consultation had been fair. She stated: “I am satisfied that the material before the court is sufficient to establish that the council did assess the overall needs and locally based needs of families with young children, and of the children themselves, for children’s centres; and that it did make a conscious and informed decision that the 16 centres at the selected locations would be enough to meet those needs.”

Research, conducted by the Sutton Trust, revealed that more than 1,000 children’s centres closed between 2010 and 2018 and published Department for Education figures show that council spending on centres fell by £110M last year. Earlier this year, the DFE announced it was reviewing children’s centres and other delivery models to find out “what works well”.

Norfolk County Council has also announced plans to close 87% of the locality’s children’s centres.

New AI technology to safeguard children & catch more predators

Police can now analyse indecent images of children in minutes with pioneering new technology.

Speaking at the Child Abuse Image Database hub, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that police forces across the UK will have access to new tools to speed up investigations of online child abuse and limit the number of indecent images of children (IIOC) police officers have to view.

Three revolutionary new technology tools will be rolled out to improve the capability of the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID), in a huge boost to bring child sexual abusers to justice and safeguard victims. CAID is a single database of IIOC which enables UK law enforcement to work collaboratively to safeguard children and bring people to justice.

The new tools consist of:

  • a fast-forensic tool to rapidly analyse seized devices and find images already known to law enforcement
  • an image categorisation algorithm to assist officers to identify and categorise the severity of illegal imagery
  • a capability to detect images with matching scenes to help identify children in indecent images in order to safeguard victims

CAID was first introduced to police forces from December 2014. There are currently 13 million images on CAID and the number grows on average by half a million every two months. The Home Office has invested £18.2 million into the programme since 2014, with the new innovations costing £1.76 million.

In his speech, the Home Secretary said:

“Vile predators who are creating, viewing or sharing indecent imagery of children are constantly adapting their tactics to evade capture. We must move at the same pace and evolve to ensure we catch these paedophiles, bring them to justice and protect vulnerable victims. This game-changing tech will help us do this and will be vital in the fight against online child abusers.”

The fast-forensic tool will allow a more rapid analysis of a device against images on CAID, taking just 30 minutes to process when previously it would take up to 24 hours. Police officers currently grade up to 200 images an hour from grade ‘C’ to ‘A’ for the most extreme form of IIOC. The image-categoriser will sort these before officers have to see them and see up to 2,000 images an hour graded. Whilst officers will still have to look at the images, this use of computers will relieve them of the psychological pressures of viewing the imagery.

Importantly, the third innovation will help identify victims using scene matching technology in indecent images of children.

Commenting on the new technology, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Child Protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey said:

“There have been year on year increases in reports of people accessing indecent images of children and as a service, we are searching more properties, arresting more suspects and safeguarding more children than ever before.
The improvements to the Child Abuse Image Database will enable us to catch more offenders, rescue more children from harm and reduce the pressure and trauma on our officers from having to review every image manually.”

The tools were developed in partnership between the CAID Innovation Lab and UK-based companies Qumodo, Vigil AI and Cyan Forensics as part of the government’s efforts to tackle all forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA).

Qumodo CEO, Benjamin Gancz, said:

“The level and extremity of this content can be truly harrowing to investigate. Current practices expose police officers and content moderators to it for unnecessarily long periods of time with very little support. By teaming up with an AI we can moderate this exposure and identify when staff may be struggling.
This will provide an entirely new capability to the world of child protection and forensics. We are proud to have developed a product that will directly support the police and help to safeguard children in the future.”

Last month the Home Secretary announced HM Government would be publishing a Child Sexual Abuse strategy to drive the improvement in tackling offenders and supporting victims, both online and offline.

Domestic Abuse Bill

Whilst not yet finalised, yesterday the Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced to parliament before summer recess to ensure the momentum of progressing legislation is maintained in the autumn legislative programme.

The Bill will place a legal duty on councils to offer secure homes for those and their children fleeing violence. Local authority spending on refuges for abuse victims fell from £31m in 2010 to £23m in 2017.

the key measures in the Bill include:

  • The first HM Government definition of domestic abuse, which will include financial abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour;
  • Proposals for a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to champion survivors and hold local and national government to account on their actions;
  • Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders, which would allow police and courts to intervene earlier where abuse is suspected;
  • Prohibiting the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts;
  • Automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts.

It is estimated that almost two million adults in England and Wales are victims of domestic abuse every year.

Carers of Margaret Fleming sentenced

Yesterday, the two carers of a murdered a vulnerable teenager whose body has never been found were each been ordered to spend more than 14 years in prison.

Edward Cairney (77) and Avril Jones (59) killed 19-year-old Margaret Fleming, whose learning difficulties were so complex she couldn’t manage her financial affairs, sometime between December 1999 and January 2000. Jones then continued to claim £182,000 in benefits until it finally emerged Margaret was missing in October 2016.

Sentencing at the High Court in Glasgow, Lord Matthews told Cairney he must serve at least 14 years. Jones, who was additionally found guilty of benefit fraud as Margaret’s benefit money (£182,000) was paid directly into her account, was also sentenced to a minimum life tariff set at 14 years. Margaret’s body has never been found and in sentencing the pair Lord Matthews told them: “Only you two know the truth. Only you know where her remains are.”

The last independent sighting of the Margaret was on 17 December, 1999. Three weeks later, on 5 January, 2000, Jones told her mother that Margaret had run off with a traveller. The couple then embarked on covering up Margaret’s disappearance which involved them travelling to London to send bogus letters supposedly from her and erasing all trace of her from the cottage where she had lived. Despite a painstaking search of the dilapidated property and garden, no trace of Margaret has ever been found.

Margaret moved in with the couple following the death of her father in 1995. Cairney, a friend of her father, offered to help and took advantage of Margaret’s strained relationship with her mother. All ties between Margaret and her mother were severed in November 1997, after an assault by Cairney when she arrived to see her daughter. The couple took control of the teenager’s life and subjected her to what police described as a “living hell”.

Detective Superintendent Paul Livingstone, who led the investigation, said Ms Fleming had been: “a very vulnerable young woman who was manipulated, abused, neglected and ultimately murdered by the two people who should have been looking after her”. He went on to state that the couple kept the teenager in conditions that were “utterly disgusting and uninhabitable” before killing her.

Livingstone added: “We will never know just how Margaret was killed. What we do know is that she lived her last days in what can only be described as a living hell. She must have felt that she was alone in the world with no-one coming to help her, which is just heart-breaking to think of.”

Trial evidence revealed that in June 2012, a benefits investigator attempted to visit the teenager but was told by Jones that Margaret would not see her. The investigator said a duty social worker should have visited the “totally chaotic” property to follow up on the young woman’s welfare, but no-one did.

Four years later police were finally alerted as a result of an application for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) which had been filled out by Jones. In the application Jones wrote that Margaret “needs constant care”, had self-harmed and had been “caught eating out of a dog bowl”.

Police Scotland subsequently launched a missing persons’ investigation in October 2016. The couple maintained Margaret was still alive and often returned to visit them. In an interview, the couple also told a reporter that Margaret was a gangmaster organising and overseeing the work of casual manual labourers in Poland, highly unlikely given her known learning difficulties. From December 1999 there had been no record of her having seen a doctor, access her bank account or any social media presence.

Despite an exhaustive investigation, police have failed to find any trace of Margaret. Detectives have been unable to establish how she died or what happened to her body, although a former firefighter told the trial he once smelled what he believed was burning human flesh coming from a bonfire at Cairney and Jones’ home.

Inverclyde’s multi-agency public protection committees are now working with all the organisations involved in Margaret’s case on a full, detailed examination of the events leading up to her tragic death.

Free food for FSM pupils

During prime minister’s questions yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that 50K children who qualify for free school meals will be provided with free food over the summer holidays at a cost of £9M from the DFE. Whilst welcome, concerns have been raised given that this only equates to a quarter of children attracting the pupil premium.

Luton man & woman charged with terrorism offences

A Luton man and woman charged with terrorism offences appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday. The brother and sister were arrested on 3rd July following a vehicle stop as part of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command. The investigation is reported to have uncovered an alleged terror plot in its early stages against London Pride.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 28, appeared charged with one count of preparation of acts of terrorism, one count of dissemination of a terrorist publication, and one count of possession of terrorist information. Sneha Chowdhury, 25, appeared charged with two counts of failing to disclose information regarding terrorist activity. Sneha Chowdhury was released on bail whilst Mohiussunnath Chowdhury has been remanded in custody.

Last year Mohiussunnath Chowdhury was involved in an incident outside Buckingham Palace and arrested. Chowdhury had driven his blue Toyota Prius at a marked police van. Officers sprayed him with CS gas when they saw him sat in his car with a sword and a knife sharpener. PC Ian Midgley and PC Gavin Hutt approached and managed to overpower Chowdhury, retrieving the sword. PC Hutt said Chowdhury started screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ while wielding the sword. Investigators found Chowdhury had searched beheadings in Chechnya, Islamic State beheadings and Jihadi John on the internet. In a WhatsApp group chat Chowdhury was asked if his profile picture was an Isis flag. He responded: “It is an Isis flag. I support Isis,” followed by a laughing emoji. He later told jurors it was all “in jest”.

However, he was unanimously acquitted by jurors at the Old Bailey of one allegation of preparing acts of terrorism after a retrial. (The first jury had failed to reach a verdict in June). Chowdhury told jurors he only wanted to be killed by police and had no intention to hurt anyone himself. He said he had been feeling lonely and depressed and only wanted to get himself killed by brandishing the blade to police officers. After the Old Bailey jury cleared him, Chowdhury smiled and waved at them.

Further social media was revealed showing Chowdhury praising the Westminster Bridge terrorist Khalid Masood and claiming all the non-Muslim victims of the atrocity would go to hell. In a “suicide note” left on his sister’s laptop Chowdhury urged his family to “struggle against the enemies of Allah” which included the Queen and British soldiers.

Mohiussunnath and Sneha Chowdhury will appear at the Old Bailey on the 29th of July.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 11th July 2019

7-year-olds’ gang involvement

New research by The Children’s Society reveals that children as young as seven are being used to move drugs for organised gangs.

The report findings, reveal that whilst teenagers are most at risk of exploitation, the targeting of children of primary school age is increasing. The report also states that many police forces and councils are not recording data about children who are exploited and nearly two-thirds of councils do not have a strategy in place for tackling child criminal exploitation.

The charity is calling for independent advocates to help children who are referred using the National Referral Mechanism get the support they need. The report also calls for children to be treated as victims rather than criminals, child criminal exploitation to be defined in law and for more funding for early help.

The Children’s Commissioner for England estimates there are at least 46,000 children involved in gang activity. Although boys are believed to be most at risk, one in six children referred as suspected victims are girls. The report found that affluence is not a bar to this type of exploitation. Whilst family breakdown, living in poverty and being excluded from school make children vulnerable, loneliness and wanting to fit in are also risk factors.

Nick Roseveare, The Children’s Society chief executive said: “This shocking report reveals how cowardly criminals are stooping to new lows in grooming young people to do their dirty work and in casting their net wider to reel in younger children. Children are being cynically exploited with the promise of money, drugs, status and affection and controlled using threats, violence and sexual abuse, leaving them traumatised and living in fear.”

He went on to comment that: “the response from statutory agencies is too often haphazard and comes too late and a national strategy is needed to help improve responses to child criminal exploitation.”

ADCS calls for coordinated knife crime strategy

Members of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) are calling on HM Government to deliver a coordinated and sustainably funded knife crime strategy, to put child protection and safeguarding at the top of the agenda.

The call is in response to a sharp rise in knife related incidents which has left increasing numbers of young people injured or fatally stabbed. The organisation states that doctors are reporting children involved in knife crime being admitted to hospital in school uniform.

A discussion paper published at the ADCS annual conference sets out the need for a strategy which focuses on prevention and a long-term commitment to cultural change.

In a statement, the ADCS said: “A reaffirmation from government of the importance of treating this first and foremost as a child protection and safeguarding concern would be helpful as would a reassertion of the role of the director of children’s services as a systems leader.”

The ADCS is urging HM Government to recognise that “one-off, time limited funding” which councils have to bid for to tackle complex issues such as knife crime is unsustainable. The paper states that whilst funding alone will not solve the problem, it is an important part of the picture.

In her speech at the annual conference, ADCS president Rachel Dickinson said: “Children tell us they are carrying a knife because they are scared for their safety – it’s clear something has to change and fast. Stricter laws, longer sentences and the expansion of police powers alone would not address the underlying social issues which lead some children and communities being more vulnerable to risk or harm in the first place.”

Dickinson also added that lessons could be learnt from youth offending teams, the Troubled Families programme, initiatives such as Prevent and youth work as well as agency responses to child sexual exploitation.

The Home Office announced last month  that anti-knife crime lessons would be delivered in schools before the start of the summer holidays. This followed the £1.35m “#knifefree” advertising campaign which featured real stories of young people who decided not to carry a knife in an effort to inspire others to do the same.

Statutory services at risk

A research survey conducted by the Local Government Association (LGA) has found that a third of councils fear funding for statutory services, including child protection, will run out within three years as they face an overall funding gap of more than £3bn by 2020. The findings from the 339 councils who participated also found this number rose to almost two thirds by 2024/25. 17% of the participating councils reported they were not confident they will make the savings they need to in the current financial year.

The report states: “Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 they had from central government to run local services. As such, the next Spending Review will be make or break for vital local services and securing the financial sustainability of councils must be the top priority.” The report also identifies that the growing demand pressures, particularly for areas such as children’s services and special educational needs, had contributed to a predicted funding gap of more than £3bn by next year.

Increase in reporting of online images of sexual abuse

In a speech at the NSPCC annual conference, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said self-help resources are increasingly being used by people worried about their sexual attitudes towards children and that: “more potential offenders are being stopped before they prey upon children”.

The Home Secretary stated that more people are reporting online images of sexual abuse, and more of those who are viewing or considering viewing the images are seeking help. The specialist helpline run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which aims to protect child victims of online abuse, has seen calls increase by nearly 25 per cent in a year and it’s Stop It Now website has also seen a 40 per cent increase in the number of people accessing its resources.

Javid stated: “We know it’s working, with independent evaluation showing web users concerned about their behaviour reported increased awareness of the law and positive behaviour changes. So more potential offenders are being stopped before they prey upon children – something we undoubtedly need to see more of.”

The news comes as figures released by the NSPCC this week show there are an average of 22 online child sex abuse offences committed every day. UK referrals of child abuse images from industry are also 10 times greater than in 2013. HM Government’s education campaign with the Internet Watch Foundation and Marie Collins Foundation have also seen a 72 per cent increase in public reports of indecent images of children online.

The consultation on the Online Harms white paper, which sets out the government’s package of online safety measures, closed this week and we will keep you up to date with findings when published.

Private schools encouraged to offer places to vulnerable children

As part of a £500,000 HM Government drive, private schools have been told to open up places and facilities to children in care.

This follows the publication of a HM Government-backed report last year which found that placing vulnerable youngsters at boarding schools can be “significantly more cost-effective” than keeping them in local authority care.  Its researchers followed the progress of 52 children over ten years who were either in care or at risk of being taken into care by Norfolk County Council. After being sent to a boarding school, almost 63per cent of the children came off the risk altogether while 71 per cent showed a reduced level of risk.

The minister for children, Nadhim Zahawi, has said he wants private schools: “to play a greater role in helping raise outcomes for these vulnerable children”. This statement comes amid mounting pressure on the country’s most prestigious private schools to step up their efforts to help less well-off pupils.

Three quarters of independent schools in England are registered as charities, which earns them favourable business rates and VAT exemptions on fees. To qualify as a charity, they must demonstrate that they provide “public benefit” to a reasonably wide section of the public, rather than to a narrow group of wealthy individuals.

Other news:

The latest vulnerability reports were published last week by the Children’s Commissioner Office, showing that 2.3m children in England are at risk due to family circumstances.

Ofsted have published the last school inspection update, the last before inspectors begin to inspect under the new education inspection framework (EIF) from September 2019.

Amanda Spielman’s speech at the National Governance Association discussed the response to the consultation on the EIF and what it means for governors.

Amanda Spielman’s speech at the Wellington Festival of Education discussed education’s role in preparing young people for life in modern Britain.

Ofsted repeated the call for outstanding school exemption to be lifted as more schools lose the highest Ofsted grading. Only 16% of outstanding primary and secondary schools inspected this academic year retained their top Ofsted rating, according to official statistics.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 4th July 2019

New KCSIE for 2019 – overview by Sam Preston

It’s fair to say there was a collective groan when HM Government announced that a new version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) would come into effect this year, given the wealth of amendments (51 in total) introduced in last year’s revision. However good news, this year the changes are limited (17 in total) the majority of which are minor tweaks.

More good news for SSS Learning schools & academies, as we automatically update all our training and advise you of updates to legislation or criminal offences as they happen, there really is very little for you to do. So, what are the key changes?

Rather than scan the whole draft document, all the changes are detailed in Annex H of the guidance. As you will see, the majority are changes to the order within the document rather than the actual content. There has been some reordering to Part 1 – my recommendation would be to reissue the finalised version to all staff, including Annex A for those working in regulated activity, in September. It’s probably been a year since staff have read it so it’s a timely refresher.

One big change is of course the arrangements for local safeguarding partnerships. As we have previously informed you, statutory locality safeguarding responsibilities are removed from Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCBs) and transferred to new Tri-partnership arrangements made up of Local Authorities, the Police and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). (See p. 68- 75).

Having had some interim time to develop such arrangements the deadline for having them in place is this September. Educational settings are very likely to be named as ‘relevant agencies’ and as such will be bound by the statutory multi-agency working practices each partnership develops. So, in essence it is essential to find out and familiarise yourselves with your local safeguarding partnership’s directives and policy and disseminate to staff. Also don’t forget to change any references to LSCBs in your policies. Just to confuse things, LSCBs do not have to be disbanded but they no longer have the statutory responsibilities.

As the new version is catching up on legislation and criminal offences introduced since last September, it worth reviewing your policy to ensure all the key areas are included. For example, ensure upskirting is defined (see p. 27) and included in the peer-on-peer abuse section with details of how you will respond and manage incidents. You should recognise that this is a criminal offence and may constitute sexual harassment.

Serious violence is not a new topic within KCSIE however, as we have been reporting, this version places a greater emphasis on this area. (p. 29 & 30). Your policy and staff practice should include knowledge of the indicator for concern including county lines, criminal exploitation (formerly referred to as financial exploitation) and contextual safeguarding areas e.g. risks associated with gang membership.

As KCSIE expects policy to direct proactive approaches to safeguarding ensure you reference the latest standards for relationships education, relationships and sex education and health education.

Together with the draft publication of KCSIE 2019, last month the DfE have also published Teaching Online Safety in Schools. Ensure this document is referenced in your safeguarding and all related policies and that staff know where and how to access it.

I’d also remain mindful that we will have the Domestic Abuse Bill shortly and undoubtedly this will impact on your Child Protection & Safeguarding policies.

So that’s the key headlines of KCSIE 2019. Remember, it is only in draft form right now and does not come into effect until September. If there are any further key amendments be reassured we will let you know.

Report finds further failings for Bethnal Green Academy pupils

Only sixteen months after four schoolgirls left Bethnal Green Academy (now Green Spring Academy) to join Isis, in 2016 two teenage sisters were removed from the school by their mother and taken abroad to be de-westernised.

Their mother had approached the school a month before they vanished to request term-time leave and was given a form to fill in. But there is no evidence this was completed and staff did not ask where the girls would be taken. 

The sisters, who feared becoming victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, were taken to a boarding school in Somaliland where their passports were confiscated.

Allegations that the girls were being abused, made by them via social media, were reported to Waltham Forest council and police but not followed up with urgency. This despite police records recording that another girl in the family had been subject to an FGM and Forced Marriage Protection Order in 2009.

A housing officer had also raised concerns, saying she thought that the children “might have left the country under duress”, however no action was taken.

Despite contacting friends via social media detailing allegations of the physical abuse they were suffering at the new school, it was not until they expressed concerns to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in relation to FGM and forced marriage that action was taken. The two sisters were repatriated almost a year later after texting the UK Government’s Forced Marriage Unit.

A report by Waltham Forest Council, where the family was housed by Tower Hamlets, found several occasions where “correct processes were not followed” by their UK school and found that the sisters’ disappearance could potentially have been discovered earlier. When the sisters disappeared, Tower Hamlets council’s welfare adviser, who would have followed up with the family over the school holidays, was not informed of their absences.

Three months after the sisters left, the academy informed their family in the UK that the girls risked being removed from the school roll. Their older sister informed the academy where they were but no return date or address was given. On receipt of this information no follow up visit was made to their home. 

It was only when the sisters managed to contact HM Government office themselves that a joint operation between police, Waltham Forest Children’s Services and the Foreign Office was undertaken and they were taken into protective custody. Thankfully the sisters had not been subjected to FGM.

The Somaliland school has since been shut and the headmaster charged with child abuse offences.

Restraint and restrictive intervention consultation launched

Last month the DFE and Department of Health and Social Care released guidance on restraint and restrictive intervention for special schools and health and social care settings and it seems further versions are to be produced for mainstream schools.

The current version of the guidance aims to help such organisations “adopt a preventative approach to supporting children and young people whose behaviour challenges as a result of learning disabilities, autistic spectrum conditions or mental health difficulties”. This week the DfE launched a consultation to see if similar guidance is needed for mainstream schools, mainstream post-16 settings and alternative provision. It will also seek views on whether “guidance should apply to a wider cohort of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities”.

The consultation comes against a backdrop of concerns from some parents of children with SEND about the use of restraint techniques in schools. As reported in our our previous bulletin, last February three families set up a crowd-funding appeal to pay for legal advice on making a legal challenge against the government over what they say are a lack of adequate safeguards on the use of restraint in schools.

The consultation closes at 6pm on 17 October 2019.

Diabetes- a safeguarding risk

The serious case review into the death of diabetic teenager has recommended that public sector workers should be required to consider diabetes in children and young people as a safeguarding risk.

The review of the case of ‘child T’ (who could not be named for legal reasons) by East Sussex’s Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) identified ways in which health workers and schools could improve how they work together to support children with diabetes. The review found that opportunities to provide preventatives services “were too often missed” prior to the hospital death of the 18-year-old in May 2017, from a complication associated with type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is more common in children, around 35,000 children and young people under the age of 19 in the UK have diabetes of which 96 per cent have type 1.

The chair of the review board, Reg Hooke, has written to the departments of health and education asking them to review guidance provided, in particular to schools. Commenting on the review findings, he said: “The report provides a number of recommendations for how GPs, hospitals and schools in East Sussex should improve how they work together to support children with health conditions such as diabetes. These improvements are already being made locally but at a national level there needs to be a review of current practice and policy to ensure the same learning takes place across the country.”

The case of ‘child T’ clearly highlights failings to provide joined up care and failure to recognise and identify risks. The investigation into the teenager’s death revealed he had a history of missed appointments and poor school attendance since diagnosis. The review concluded that his school had not considered his health and support needs adequately or properly assessed his needs to consider the wider issues of neglect or safeguarding. His dramatic weight loss, from 23 stone to nine stone did not trigger concerns. His reports of feeling unwell at school, feet and back pain were not shared or explored further.

Hooke sees it as vital that guidance “makes it clear to schools that they have a key role for ensuring safeguarding procedures are used in appropriate cases where good health depends on following medical guidance”.

The report was also critical of health professionals stating they should have been more alert to risks when appointments are missed and be more effective in challenging families that do not provide adequate care. On admission to hospital, ‘child Ts’ physical and emotional state indicated severe neglect which had started during his childhood.

Teachers strike over pupil behaviour

Teachers have gone on strike at Starbank school in Birmingham, school rated outstanding by Ofsted since 2012, where they say students are carrying knives, threatening staff and brawling in classrooms.

Staff at the school, whose pupils range from age three to 16, have been given panic buttons and say they are “scared to come out of their classrooms” between lessons, according to the teaching union NASUWT.

The NASUWT union took urgent action following concerns that pupils were bringing in knives and threatening staff. Paul Nesbitt, the NASUWT national executive member for the West Midlands, said Starbank could be described as “a flagship school” for Birmingham “but it’s what’s going on inside that’s the problem.”

Nesbitt reported that one teacher had been punched in the face by a Year 7 pupil and another had been threatened with a weapon by a student who was still at the school. He said there were “intimidating groups” across all ages at the school and that a regular brawl called “Thursday fight” took place. He also reported he himself had seen “pupils running along the corridors screaming when they should have been in class”.

The school remained open on Thursday and the executive head teacher, Satnam Dosanjh, said suitable provision had been made to ensure that lessons would continue.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the Nasuwt, responded: “Strike action is a last resort for dedicated and committed teachers but there has been a failure by the employer to take seriously their professional concerns over pupil indiscipline”.

The west Birmingham school was praised by Ofsted last year for  its “exceptional ethos, care and quality of education”.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 27th June 2019

Children ‘ping-ponged’ around services

New research published by the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition has found that young people with learning disabilities are struggling to find support for their mental health, despite being four times more likely than their peers to need help. The report titled Overshadowed, commissioned by Comic Relief, reveals that over a quarter of young people (27.9%) with both a learning disability and a mental health problem have not had any contact with mental health services and many families and young people described being “ping-ponged” around the system from service to service due to a lack of co-ordination. Just under a quarter of those who contacted services said they had to wait more than six months for help. The report states that young people with learning disabilities have an increased risk of developing mental health problems due to social and emotional factors, such as living in poverty, parental mental ill-health and negative life events, rather than their disability itself.  Although children on the learning disability register are entitled to an annual health check through their GP from the age of 14, most of the research participants said they had not been offered such a check. The report recommends that if such checks were in place at an earlier age, this could potentially lead to better detection and support. The report highlights that: “These young people and families can be in contact with their GP, paediatricians, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, social care and education among other services. Although there may be documents outlining what interventions are on offer, these appear to fail in practice.” Key weaknesses in the current system are not only a lack of early intervention but also the transition from child to adult services, when young people may be moving from multiple services.

Safeguarding remains an EIF priority

Following an extensive consultation period, the new Ofsted inspection framework has been finalised. No longer referred to as “common” the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF), informed by a wealth of research, will come into effect from September. HM Chief Inspector of Education Amanda Spielman said: “I am heartened by the overwhelming support for what we’re doing to focus on the substance of education and place less emphasis on tests and data…the new framework puts the real substance of education, the curriculum, back at the heart of inspection and supports leaders and teachers who act with integrity. We hope all providers will no longer feel the need to generate and analyse masses of internal data for inspection. Instead, we want them to spend their time teaching and making a real difference to learners’ lives.” Overall, there are no real significant changes to the inspection handbook. The emphasis on safeguarding, safer recruitment, qualification records and complaints procedures remain a priority. Despite much discussion around their removal, the four grades (outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate), remain the same and safeguarding will impact on such judgements. The recent much publicised downgrading of ‘outstanding’ schools may have had some influence on the decision to retain the grade system. As we have highlighted in previous newsletters, the practice of ‘off-rolling’ features with inspectors directed to detect such practice. Whilst safeguarding remains a priority, a really welcome change is to after school provision. This provision no longer needs to meet, or be constrained by, the learning and development requirements. At last they can be environments where children can just play!

Inadequate funding will not affect Ofsted judgements

Despite admitting that inadequate funding is affecting the quality of council child protection services, Ofsted Social Care Director Yvette Stanley has said this will not be taken into account when issuing inspection judgments.

In a blog published last week, the inspectorate’s director highlighted the harmful impact of cuts on the quality of children’s services at some councils but  stated: “The bar for good judgments must relate to practice, not context.

The blog maintains that inspections already flag resource and demand issues and how they impact on social workers from working effectively, including overly high caseloads and unrealistic expectations of the amount of work managers can safely oversee.

The priority for the new safeguarding partnerships will be to work together to tackle contextual factors and respond effectively to the needs of each child and family. Under the new inspection framework, in place from 2018, only 60 per cent children’s services departments have been rated “good” or “outstanding” in relation to children in need of help and protection.

New Parent View questions on trial

Reflecting on the NHS England project ‘Ask Listen Do’, Ofsted are currently trialling new Parent View questions.

In a blog, Nick Whittaker, Ofsted’s Specialist SEND Advisor described how the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) places more emphasis on inspecting SEND provision. Whittaker describes how the EIF “gives real weight to how inspectors judge that the needs of children and young people with SEND have been identified, assessed and met.

The EIF clearly states that schools should have an inclusive culture and that leaders should have ‘a clear and ambitious vision for providing high-quality, inclusive education to all learners’. There will also be a focus on ensuring safeguarding needs are appropriately identified and considered on an equal footing with SEND needs.

Ofsted are also working with the Council for Disabled Children to develop ways of giving children with SEND a stronger voice in the inspections of local areas and schools.   

‘Eyes Open’ Campaign

Child Protection Committees Scotland, a nation-wide group of child protection professionals, are urging everyone to be extra observant to help protect potentially vulnerable children during the summer holidays. The ‘Eyes Open’ campaign aims to make members of the public aware and play an important role in keeping all children safe from harm during the long summer break. Launching the campaign, CPCScotland Chair Alan Small said:

Most children look forward to having lots of fun and free time during the school holidays but for some families the summer break can bring extra stress and pressure. In some cases, children might not be looked after or supervised properly, and some might even experience serious neglect.

The campaign stresses that everyone in every community across the country is responsible for child welfare and that by taking the ‘Eyes Open’ approach, all members of the public can play a part to protect children. Small stated:

We’re simply asking people to keep their eyes open for tell-tale signs that all is not well. Signs that a child might be at risk could include being alone and unsupervised, being out and about at all times of day or night or even going into “party” flats. A vulnerable child might be very dirty or persistently hungry, or have parents who are drunk in charge of them. If you’re at all worried, it’s important to take action.

Children’s Minister Maree Todd is also backing the campaign.


Two more secondary schools have been accused of ‘off-rolling’ following inspection by Ofsted. Falmouth School in Cornwall was rated ‘inadequate’ after inspectors found it sometimes removed pupils against the advice of other agencies and The Sutton Academy in Merseyside was rated ‘requires improvement’ after Ofsted found it ‘off-rolled’ under a process agreed by the local council and other school leaders.

Five schools have now been accused of ‘off-rolling’ in inspection reports since Ofsted produced its December annual report, which identified 300 schools with exceptionally high levels of pupil movement that could be ‘off-rolling’. Whilst refusing to name the 300 schools Ofsted has alerted local authorities and academy trusts to schools it has such concerns about.

Latest statistics prompt call for prioritising online safety

The NSPCC has called on HM Government to prioritise young people’s online safety after statistics revealed police forces in the UK record an average of 22 cyber-related sex crimes against children every day.

Figures gathered by the charity via a series of freedom of information requests from forty forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reveal the number of sexual offences against under-18s logged by police as having an online element have doubled in four years to more than 8,000 in 2018-19.

Whilst the most common age of victims was 13yrs, 185 offences involved children aged 10 and under some of which were babies. Crimes included online grooming, sexual communication with a child, and rape.

Four years ago the Police began marking sexual offences with a cyber-flag whenever a crime involved the internet. Figures show that in 2015-16, the total recorded was 4,042, which rose to 8,244 in 2018-1.

The HM Government consultation on the Online Harms white paper, which closes on Monday, will outline new laws to for internet companies. Among the proposals under consideration is the introduction of an independent regulator to enforce a legal duty of care on technology companies to keep users safe on their platforms.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 20th June 2019

Review of social care in Huddersfield CSE case finds opportunities lost

A review commissioned by Kirklees Council has concluded that opportunities to expose a grooming gang, which raped and abused girls as young as 11 in Huddersfield, were lost.

Following examination of social work files, the review carried out by the Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership, Dr Mark Peel, found that the council had “sufficient evidence” to conclude that two girls were being exploited but had failed to take action.

In 2018, 20 men were convicted of more than 120 offences against 15 girls, which took place between 2004 and 2011. The review found that 15 of the 22 women who gave evidence at the trial were known to children’s services at the time and whilst the majority of them had received “services of an acceptable standard”, there was “direct intelligence” of child sexual exploitation in two cases.

Social work notes for one of the girls (known as Girl 4 aged 16) recorded “she is being exploited into prostitution, she hangs around with a number of men who take her money”. The notes also stated “she is a very promiscuous girl”.

In relation to the second girl (known as Girl 8), social work notes recorded that she “is getting into cars with Asian men for the purpose of drugs, alcohol and sexual exploitation”.

Dr Peel said: “It is my contention that children’s services officers knew at the time that these young women most likely to have been engaged in inappropriate, exploitative and illegal sexual activity to the extent that they had sufficient evidence to conclude these vulnerable young women were at risk of ‘serious harm’.

“In both instances, however, it would appear that, other than recording this information, no subsequent preventative safeguarding action was taken, and that thus an opportunity to break the CSE ring operating in Kirklees, and protect these girls directly and others more generally, was lost.”

In a statement, Kirklees Council Director of Children’s Services Mel Meggs said the council was “truly sorry the girls were not protected in the right way”. Meggs went on to state “Dr Peel has been clear that the vast majority of cases were handled in line with the policy and practice of the time. However, the studies of ‘Girl 4’ and ‘Girl 8’ show that, historically, professionals did not always spot the signs of exploitation and did not always respond appropriately to concerns.”

“We are truly sorry that these two girls were not protected in the right way.”

New school admission priority

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds announced last week that the school admissions code in England is to be changed to make it easier for families escaping domestic abuse to switch schools. Hinds stated that more needs to be done for the 1.6 million children not in care but classified as “children in need” and that he wants vulnerable children to get a school place “as quickly as possible”. Hinds went on to state “We need to improve the visibility of this group, both in schools and in the system as a whole.”

This move, which will form part of the Domestic Abuse Bill, is in response to a report published earlier this year which called for children forced to move home to be given priority over school places.

The committee set up to review the draft Bill is also calling on HM government to consider amending the definition of harm set out in the Children Act to include the trauma caused by children witnessing coercive control between adults in the household. Members raised concerns about a lack of legal definition for children as victims in the Bill after hearing evidence that highlighted a “negative impact on services for children who have suffered such trauma”.

Knife crime bounties

In a BBC Beyond Today podcast, Liverpool teenagers reported being offered up to £1,000 by gang leaders to stab other youngsters. One boy reported that his best friend was the target of a £1,000 bounty. Such bounties are being paid by “elders” who want to avoid carrying out the attacks themselves. One teenager said people would go to watch “straighteners” (a fight arranged to resolve a dispute) where people were “getting stabbed”. When asked why they would take such action the teenager said “they’ll go and do it because they’ll think, if I do this, then I’ll get more money and I’ll get more respect from the elders.”

In a statement Merseyside Police said it was aware organised crime groups used violence to settle disputes and that gangs were known to exploit “young and vulnerable people to sell drugs and even to use violence”.

According to official statistics, last year Merseyside Police had one of the biggest increases in recorded knife offences, a rise of 35%. In 2018 the force recorded 1,231 offences involving a knife. Last week, Ministry of Justice figures showed that 22,041 knife or weapon offences were recorded in England and Wales in the past year – the highest number since 2010. One in five of those convicted or cautioned were aged between 10 and 17.

Prevention plan for mental health

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May has said she believes the next “revolution in mental health” should be in prevention as she unveiled her “prevention plan”. The plan will be backed by updated statutory guidance to make clear schools’ responsibilities to protect children’s mental wellbeing.

As part of the plan every new teacher will be trained to spot the signs of poor mental health in pupils. In addition, there will be support for school mental health leads so they can help children experiencing self-harm and at risk of suicide.

The Prime Minister said tackling mental illness was a “personal priority” and that she believes “the next great revolution in mental health should be in prevention”. NHS staff and social workers will also be trained to spot the signs of mental health difficulties.

Whilst in the main the announcement has been positively received there has been some criticism that the plan fails to address key issues. Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “The aspiration to train school staff to spot signs of mental illness among pupils is welcome, but it will amount to little more than a sticking plaster.” She added: “Schools need strong pastoral systems, but teachers cannot cover for the cuts to mental health specialists. Recognising the early signs is important, but timely routes to appropriate professional treatment is essential.”

A white paper will be published before the end of the year in response to the review of the Mental Health Act chaired by Simon Wessely, past president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.


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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”.


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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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 6th June 2019

UK leads the way in improving online safety

As part of the Online Harms White Paper, a joint proposal from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Home Office, a new statutory duty of care will be introduced to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of users online. Compliance will be overseen by an independent regulator which will enforce stringent new standards.

Under the new standards, social media firms must abide by a mandatory duty of care to protect users and will face tough penalties, including heavy fines, if they fail to protect them and tackle illegal and harmful activity on their services.

The regulator is to have effective enforcement tools. Government departments are consulting on the regulator’s powers which may include issuing substantial fines, blocking access to sites and potentially to impose liability on individual members of senior management.

In a statement Prime Minister Theresa May said “The internet can be brilliant at connecting people across the world – but for too long these companies have not done enough to protect users, especially children and young people, from harmful content. That is not good enough, and it is time to do things differently. We have listened to campaigners and parents, and are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe.”

The range of harms to be tackled as part of the Online Harms White Paper, include inciting violence and violent content, encouraging suicide, disinformation, cyber bullying and children accessing inappropriate material. There will also be stringent requirements for companies to take even tougher action to ensure they tackle terrorist and child sexual exploitation and abuse content.

The new proposed laws will apply to any company that allows users to share or discover user generated content or interact with each other online. This means a wide range of companies of all sizes are in scope, including social media platforms, file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services, and search engines.

The introduction of the statutory duty will end the era of self regulation. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said “The tech giants and social media companies have a moral duty to protect the young people they profit from. Despite our repeated calls to action, harmful and illegal content – including child abuse and terrorism – is still too readily available online. That is why we are forcing these firms to clean up their act once and for all.”

A regulator will be appointed to enforce the new framework. The Government is now consulting on whether the regulator should be a new or existing body. The regulator will be funded by industry in the medium term, and the Government is exploring options such as an industry levy to put it on a sustainable footing.

A 12 week consultation on the proposals is underway which includes:

  • A new statutory ‘duty of care’ to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services.
  • Further stringent requirements on tech companies to ensure child abuse and terrorist content is not disseminated online. Giving a regulator the power to force social media platforms and others to publish annual transparency reports on the amount of harmful content on their platforms and what they are doing to address this.
  • Making companies respond to users’ complaints, and act to address them quickly.
  • Codes of practice, issued by the regulator, which could include measures such as requirements to minimise the spread of misleading and harmful disinformation with dedicated fact checkers, particularly during election periods.
  • A new “Safety by Design” framework to help companies incorporate online safety features in new apps and platforms from the start.
  • A media literacy strategy to equip people with the knowledge to recognise and deal with a range of deceptive and malicious behaviours online, including catfishing, grooming and extremism.

Alongside the White Paper, an updated version of the Digital Charter has also been published. The Digital Charter aims to protect citizens, increase public trust in new technologies and create the best possible basis on which the digital economy and society can thrive.


New YouGov research, carried out for Ofsted, titled Off-rolling: exploring the issue reveals that a quarter of teachers have seen off-rolling taking place in their schools. The research also found that teachers felt parents need help to resist off-rolling pressure.

Men forced into marriage reaches seven-year high

New figures released by the UK Forced Marriage Unit reveal an increase in the number of men being forced into marriage. Overall the number of forced marriage cases rose by 47% in 2018 compared to the previous year, with 297 (the highest number reported in seven years) male victims. The unit statistics reveal they dealt with 1,764 cases in 2018.

These latest figures show that forced marriages, more commonly associated with vulnerable young women, is a significant problem for young British males too. Whilst most cases in 2018 involved a UK citizen being taken to a foreign country or marrying a foreign national, the statistics show that 7% of the latest cases were entirely domestic based.

The majority of forced marriage cases in the UK come from a South Asian background however, the new statistics show an increase of people from a Romanian background reporting the crime.

Whilst these latest statistics indicate a worrying increase the disturbing reality is that, due to the nature of this often unreported abuse, actual figures are likely to be higher.

Higgins conviction

Nearly 30 years after he was first accused and cleared of sexual abuse, Bob Higgins, former youth coach at Southampton Football Club, has been convicted of 45 counts of indecent assault.

As a consequence of scores of former players coming forward in 2016, the crimes of 66-year-old serial sex offender Higgins have finally caught up with him. A total of 87 people called the charity NSPCC dedicated phone line and and a further 32 contacted police directly with allegations relating to Southampton, all associating Higgins to the abuse.

Whilst being known as the “star maker” who was instrumental in the career development of high profile football players such as Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer, Higgins was also a ruthless, predatory paedophile, who used his position of power to groom and then abuse boys whose dreams of a playing career he could make or break.

The eight-week retrial, held after a previous jury at Winchester Crown Court could not reach verdicts on 48 counts of indecent assault, was told Higgins kept an open house at his homes in Camberley, Surrey, and later Southampton where he would let boys stay while they attended training sessions at weekends or during school holidays.

This allowed him to groom his victims. Sitting on the sofa at his home, he would demand cuddles from the boys and go on to touch them inappropriately. He would also use the pretext of treating injuries or performing soap-water massages to abuse youngsters at the club. Many youth players who were sexually assaulted by Higgins were left so distressed that they gave up football entirely.

Rumours about Higgins’s activities had circulated for years however, there was an implicit trade-off as boys knew they needed to keep quiet or risk losing their shot at a career as a footballer. Many said nothing, even to close family members, for up to 30 years.

Le Tissier told the BBC in 2016 he had been given a “naked massage” by Higgins. In the interview, Le Tissier said he was not abused but the incident was “very, very wrong”.

After more than a week of deliberation, the jury found Higgins guilty of dozens of offences. In a statement, Southampton FC said it noted the verdicts “with deep regret” and offered “sympathy and support to any player who suffered any kind of abuse or harm while under our care”.

Higgins is the latest in a string of high-profile prosecutions of former football coaches which include:

Barry Bennell, 64, being jailed in February 2018 for 30 years for sexual offences against junior players at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra

George Ormond, 62, who worked for Newcastle United’s youth team who was given a 20-year prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court in July 2018 for sex abuse offences spanning 25 years

Former Celtic youth coach James McCafferty, 77, of Lisburn, Northern Ireland who was jailed for six years and nine months at the High Court in Edinburgh on May 14 for 11 charges against 10 victims.

Michael ‘Kit’ Carson, who worked at Norwich City, Peterborough United and Cambridge United, who died in a car crash on the first day of his trial at Peterborough Crown Court where he denied 13 charges.

Higgins was remanded in custody to be sentenced on a date to be set at Winchester Crown Court.

Work needed to tackle sexual harassment in public places

Sexual harassment is to be addressed within the cross-HM Government Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy. This is in response to a report, following an inquiry, on sexual harassment of women and girls in public places from the Women and Equalities Committee.

The committee Chair Maria Miller, MP Basingstoke, revealed they had “heard from a large number of women, from the police and other agencies as well as researchers, who told us that sexual harassment in public places pervades the lives of women and girls, whether it is cat-calling in the street, upskirting on public transport, misogynistic abuse online or sexual assault in pubs and clubs or at university”.

HM Government has responded positively to the report recommendations which makes a series of practical recommendations on issues such as data collection, women’s safety on public transport, and media regulation. The report also highlights that, although HM Government has recognised the racialised sexual harassment of black and ethnic minority women and girls, and of the ways in which sexual harassment intersects with other inequalities as an issue, a comprehensive programme of work in place for preventing and addressing the problem is not in place.

In response to the Committee’s findings, HM Government has fully accepted the report recommendations on:

  • data collection;
  • schools taking action in advance of statutory guidance coming into force in 2020;
  • research on underlying factors contributing to sexual harassment;
  • a review of hate crime, online spaces as a site for sexual harassment and the need for a gendered approach to online harm.

Also accepted in principle or partially are the Committee’s recommendations on:

  • the Ending VAWG strategy;
  • research on pornography;
  • the need for long term evaluated campaigns;
  • requiring public transport operators to have sexual harassment policies;
  • action to prohibit pornography displayed on public transport;
  • action to tackle sexual harassment to be embedded in alcohol strategy;
  • action by local authorities.

However, HM Government did not accept the Committee’s recommendations for:

  • social media to be included in the age of verification of pornographic website provision;
  • a law on image based sexual abuse;
  • evaluation of the Purple Flag scheme;
  • amendment to the Licensing Act;
  • action on sexual entertainment venues;
  • requiring universities to take action on student safety.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 23rd May 2019

Offensive Weapons

Last week the Offensive Weapons Act gained royal ascent. Part of the strategy to tackle serious crime, the Act introduces new measures such as knife crime restriction orders and gives the police the additional powers in seizing dangerous weapons. It also enables the courts to place restrictions on persons vulnerable to knife crime. The Act also makes it an offence to dispatch bladed items online without verifying the intended recipient is over 18.

Life sentence for Renshaw

(follow up from our bulletin article)

Jack Renshaw has been sentenced to life in prison following an investigation by Counter Terrorism Policing North West. Renshaw pleaded guilty to threatening to kill a police officer who was investigating him for sexual offences and a local MP.

Extraordinary tale of VIP Westminster paedophile ring

The trial of Carl Beech, the 51-year-old who claimed he was sexually abused by a VIP Westminster paedophile ring and to have witnessed child murders, has commenced at Newcastle Crown Court. Beech claimed that over a number of years he had witnessed three child murders, multiple rapes, kidnapping, false imprisonment and widespread sexual abuse.

Beech, who denies twelve counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud, made allegations against high ranking officials which included Sir Edward Heath, Lord Brittan, the former head of the army Lord Bramall, former MP Harvey Proctor and the chiefs of MI5 and MI6. This led to the launch of Operation Midland, which included searches of the homes of Lord Brittan, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor.

Tony Badenoch QC, prosecuting, said Beech’s accusations against the powerful figures were among the “most heinous” that could be made. Lord Brittan, who had been battling cancer, died after his home was searched and the court heard how that all three men had suffered “immeasurable distress”, including the death of Lord Bramall’s wife whilst the file was still open. Following the closure of the £2m Operation Midland, Northumberland Police investigated Beech and discovered a number of his claims were “provably false”. Badenoch stated that Beech “had lied about the content of these allegations, taken active steps to embellish a false story, and then cover his tracks when challenged.”

Alesha MacPhail killer granted permission to appeal sentence

In a follow up to the article in our bulletin (11th April), the teenager convicted of raping and killing Alesha MacPhail has been granted permission to appeal against his life sentence.

As we reported, the 17-year-old Aaron Campbell was ordered to serve a minimum of 27 years for the abduction and murder of the six-year-old whilst she was on holiday on the Isle of Bute last summer. Campbell abducted Alesha from her bed as she slept at her grandparents’ home in July last year and went on to inflict numerous injuries on the six-year-old before dumping her body in woods. A jury found him unanimously guilty following a nine-day trial and he later admitted to the crime.

Campbell has now been granted leave to appeal against this sentence, which was handed down by Lord Matthews at the High Court in Glasgow in March.

A hearing date has been set for 7 August at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Number of British paedophiles may be far higher than thought

In a speech made in London last week, the Director General of the National Crime Agency (NCA), Lynne Owens revealed the number of Britons with a sexual interest in children may be seven times higher than previously thought. Previous estimates put the figure at 20,000 however, following an investigation which scoured through sites for paedophiles on the dark web, an estimated 144,000 accounts were linked to British people.

Whilst recognising that some individuals may have more than one account across several of these sites, Owens, said that in her professional judgment the number of paedophiles was much higher than law enforcement and government had realised. To back up this claim, Owens said: “I draw on two pieces of evidence. The first … is the 850% increase in referrals from industry since 2013. Then the second is this evidence we get from the dark web.”

Owens stated that every month measures were taken to make sure 400 children were safe from paedophiles, and 500 people were arrested in connection with a sexual interest in children. Some dark web sites require people to prove they have raped a child before they are allowed to enter.

Owens went on to state that the NCA and police had not been able to investigate all of the suspects even when the numbers were believed to be much lower, and that they did not have the resources to analyse all the accounts discovered on the dark web. She highlighted that industry must do more to block child abuse images and the live streaming of child abuse.

Preventative programmes warning children of the dangers are now aimed at 4-7-year-olds whose parents gave them tablet computers, whereas previously they were aimed at children aged eight years and over. Owens is calling for an additional £2.7bn over three years to boost the fight against serious and organised crime.

Operation Stovewood

As part of the ongoing Operation Stovewood investigation into the sexual abuse and exploitation of more than 1,500 children in the Rotherham, forty people have been arrested or interviewed in the last two months. Operation Stovewood is the largest investigation into non-familial CSAE (child sexual abuse and exploitation) ever undertaken in the UK.

The arrests and interviews relate to thirteen victims, aged between 11 and 26, for alleged offences taking place between 1997 and 2015. Thirty-eight men and two women from Sheffield, Rotherham, Leeds, Dewsbury and Maidstone were arrested or interviewed by appointment. All forty have been bailed or released under investigation.

The investigations began following a report by Professor Alexis Jay in 2014 which detailed the rape, grooming and trafficking of more than 1,400 children. This figure has now been updated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) to 1,523.

To date, under Operation Stovewood more than a dozen men have been jailed. In the most recent trial, seven men were convicted of abusing five girls between 1998 and 2005 and received sentences of up to 23 years. They were found guilty of charges including rape and aiding and abetting rape.

Other investigations into years of abuse of young girls in the town – Operation Clover and Operation Thunder, investigations previously undertaken in Rotherham, have seen more than 20 other men jailed in recent years. This included the trial of Arshid Hussain, one of three brothers behind the grooming and sexual abuse of more than 50 girls which include Sammy Woodhouse, who received a 35 –year sentence in 2016.

Half-term Break:

The safeguarding bulletin will be back on 5th June following half-term. We hope you have a good break.

Useful links:

Handbook for Ofsted inspectors on inspecting further education and skills providers under the education inspection framework, for use from September 2019.

Guidance for Ofsted inspectors carrying out school inspections under section 8 of the Education Act 2005, for use from September 2019.

Ofsted guidance on inspecting non-association independent schools in England under the education inspection framework, for use from September 2019.

Ofsted guidance on inspecting registered early years and childcare providers under the education inspection framework, for use from September 2019.

The framework which sets out Ofsted’s inspection principles and the main judgements that inspectors make. It applies from September 2019.

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