Safeguarding News November 2018
Welcome to the last safeguarding newsletter of 2018 containing a roundup of safeguarding news from November 2018 across the UK.
The SAFE team would like to extend season's greetings and best wishes to all our subscribers for the forthcoming festive period. There's still time to reserve your place on SAFE's first public safeguarding training course for 2019. The combined Child and Adult Safeguarding Training course takes place on 15th January at SAFE's offices in Eye, Suffolk. Also, back by popular demand we are staging our first Child and Young People Safeguarding Training course for 2019 on 13th February.
A round up of safeguarding news for November 2018
Save the Date: Safer Internet Day will be on Tuesday 5th February 2019. The campaign's slogan, "Together for a better internet", is a call to action for all stakeholders to join together and play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, and especially for younger users.
Anti-Bullying Week ran from 12th - 16th November 2018 The theme was: ‘Choose Respect’.
Trustees’ Week also ran 12th -16th November 2018. Trustees’ Week is an annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference.
There are approximately 196,000 charities in the UK (167,000 charities in England and Wales, 24,000 in Scotland, 5,000 registered in Northern Ireland).And just over 1 million trustees (of which some 850,000 are in England and Wales, 180,000 in Scotland and 30,000 in Northern Ireland)
Statutory and Non Statutory Guidance
Legislation and Bills
Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee is unanimously backing the general principles of a Bill that will raise the minimum age at which a young person can be held criminally responsible to 12. Currently, that age is eight.
The proposals, brought forward by the Scottish Government, would lift Scotland from having the lowest age of criminal responsibility in Europe, and bring the age of criminal responsibility into line with the minimum age of prosecution. Further, raising the age to 12 ensures Scotland will comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
However, the Committee is urging the Scottish Government to amend the Bill to prohibit the use of police cells for children who are being taken to a ‘place of safety’.
The Bill also tackles the issue of childhood convictions being disclosed in adult life. These disclosures potentially limit training or job opportunities available to people affected, and damage their life chances further.
The Bill was proposed by Steve Reed - MP for Croydon North - following the devastating death of his constituent Seni Lewis in 2010. Seni died at just 23, after being restrained on a mental health ward by 11 police officers. At the inquest into Seni’s death, the restraint used was deemed to be excessive, unreasonable and disproportionate. Seni's family have campaigned tirelessly over many years to change the law around the use of force, and thousands of Mind campaigners urged their MPs to get behind the Bill. Now finally all the hard work has paid off.
England and Wales
MPs and peers demand changes to Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill 2017-2019
The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill requires further changes to protect the human rights of vulnerable people, MPs and peers have warned.
Committee Chair of the Joint Human Rights Committee, Harriet Harman MP said: “The human rights of vulnerable people who lack mental capacity must be protected with a more robust system of safeguards.
“We must give cared-for people, their families and professionals greater certainty by providing a clear definition: the Bill must be changed if it is to do that.” The Law Society has also published a briefing .
Reports, Reviews, Resources, Research and Inquiries
1. A new Children’s Commissioner’s report calls on internet giants and toy manufacturers to be transparent about collection of children’s data. The report, “Who knows what about me?” reveals how more information is collected and shared about children than ever before – in the screens they watch, the websites and apps they use and the information that is captured by public services.
The report calls on companies producing apps, toys and other products aimed at children to be transparent about how they are capturing information about children and how it is being used, and argues that children should be taught in schools about how their data is collected and for what purposes. It also calls for a statutory duty of care between the internet giants and children who use their apps and sites, and for the Government to consider strengthening data protection legislation.
2. Protecting children from criminal exploitation, human trafficking and modern slavery, published this month finds that local agencies must learn lessons from past sexual exploitation cases if they are to effectively respond to ‘county lines’ drug running and other forms of child criminal exploitation.
- lessons must be learned from past sexual exploitation cases
- all children, not just the most vulnerable, are at risk of criminal exploitation
- agencies should not underestimate the risk of criminal exploitation in their areas
- children should be seen as victims, not perpetrators
- awareness-raising is crucial in preventing criminal exploitation
The in-depth inspections scrutinised practice in children’s social care, education, health services, the police, youth offending services and probation services across 3 local authority areas.
3. Safeguarding Adults, England 2017-18 Report published. This report provides the key findings from the Safeguarding Adults Return (SAR) data collection for the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. This report presents information about adults at risk for whom safeguarding referrals were opened during the reporting period, and case details for safeguarding referrals which concluded during the reporting period. A safeguarding referral is where a concern is raised with a council about a risk of abuse, which instigates an investigation under the local safeguarding procedures.
394,655 concerns of abuse were raised during 2017-18, an increase of 8.2% on the previous year.
There were 150,070 safeguarding enquiries that started in the year; a decrease of 1,090 (0.7%) on 2016-17.
The number of Section 42 enquiries that commenced during the year fell by 1.1% to 131,860 and involved 107,550 individuals. The number of Other enquiries increased by 1.8% to 18,210 during the same period.
Older people are much more likely to be the subject of a Section 42 safeguarding enquiry; one in every 43 adults aged 85 and above, compared to one in every 862 adults aged 18-64.
The most common type of risk in Section 42 enquiries that concluded in the year was Neglect and Acts of Omission, which accounted for 32.1% of risks, and the most common location of the risk was the person’s own home at 43.5%. In 68.5% of Section 42 enquiries a risk was identified and action was taken.
Worthy of Note
1.The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has been granted Core Participant status on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s (IICSA’s) Internet Investigation, at a preliminary hearing of the inquiry.
A Core Participant is an individual, organisation or institution that has a specific interest in the work of the inquiry and has a formal role as defined by legislation. Core participants have special rights as part of the inquiry process. These include receiving disclosure of documentation and legal submissions, suggesting questions and receiving advance notice of the inquiry’s report.
2. Sajid Javid the Home Secretary has announced that a charity would look at how digital advertising may fund exploitation.Advertisements for legitimate products, including from well-known brands, can appear on sites hosting child abuse, the Home Office said. The Internet Watch Foundation, a charity that works to remove online child sexual abuse content, has been asked to investigate the scale of the problem and make recommendations on how the government and industry should respond.
Susie Hargreaves, the Foundation’s chief executive, said: “Using a variety of sophisticated techniques to avoid detection, offenders are exploiting online advertising networks to monetise their distribution of child sexual abuse material.
“At the heart of all our work are the child victims of this hideous crime. They range from babies to teens. The abuse itself is horrific but by sharing the images and videos of these crimes against innocent children, offenders are forcing the victims to suffer the torment of knowing their abuse continues.”
The National Crime Agency estimates that around 80,000 people in the UK present some kind of sexual threat to children online. Since 2013 there has been a 700% increase in the number of referrals to the NCA for child sexual abuse images.
Work is being done to develop new tools to improve the capabilities of the child abuse image database (CAID), which is used by the NCA and UK police forces to record indecent images of children and increase the ability to identify victims. Trials to test newly developed capabilities within the database will begin in some police forces later this year.
The Home Office also announced that organisations could bid for up to £250,000 of funding to develop ways of disrupting live-streaming of abuse.
3. In response to the Home Office announcement on IWF online child sexual abuse imagery data collection Susie Hargreaves OBE, CEO of the IWF, says: “We are delighted that the Home Office has asked us to provide data to explore how legitimate advertisers are being exploited by offenders, intent on sharing horrific imagery of child sexual abuse online.
“Our Analysts picked up this issue, through their work to identify and remove illegal images of children online. Using a variety of sophisticated techniques to avoid detection, offenders are exploiting online advertising networks to monetise their distribution of child sexual abuse material. Put simply, these criminals are finding ever more high-tech ways of making money out of the suffering of child victims.
“By asking us to provide data on this complex area, the Home Secretary will be helping us identify the scale of the problem, which we can then work together with industry, police and government to tackle.
4. Specialist rape and sexual abuse support services will receive a £800,000 (10%) boost to help more victims across England and Wales under government plans announced today (Wednesday 7 November 2018).
Over 150,000 sexual offences were recorded by police last year with 1 in 5 women having experienced some type of sexual assault in their lifetime and a 200 per cent increase in the number of men and boys accessing support.
The additional funding – now totalling £24 million over the next 3 years – will go towards vital services providing advice, support and counselling to help victims cope with and, as far as possible, recover from these devastating crimes. It will also increase the resilience of the wider sector supporting vulnerable individuals to provide timely, wrap-around support.
In addition, dedicated support organisations will now benefit from longer-term funding with government extending the funding period from 1 to 3 years. Ministers have acted to provide support organisations with greater stability and security to ensure they can focus on delivering their essential services.
5. The Queen's Speech 2017 promises a draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, and measures in the Courts Bill to deal with suspects cross examining victims. This Briefing Paper looks at the background.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimates of domestic abuse are based on a relatively broad definition covering male and female victims of partner or family non-physical abuse, threats, force, sexual assault or stalking. The latest statistics show that:
- Some 7.5% of women and 4.4% of men were estimated to have experienced domestic abuse in 2016/17, equivalent to an estimated 1.2 million female and 713,000 male victims.
- Overall, 26% of women and 15% of men aged 16 to 59 had experienced some form of domestic abuse since the age of 16. These figures were equivalent to an estimated 4.3 million female and 2.4 million male victims.
In March 2018, the Government launched a consultation ‘seeking views on both legislative proposals for a landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill and a package of practical action.’ Proposals include:
the introduction of a statutory definition of domestic abuse;the creation of a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (DAPN), to be made by the police and a new Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO) to be available to the courts in a wide range of circumstances and a Domestic Abuse Commissioner Putting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme into law. The Government has said it will publish a response later in 2018. The Home Affairs Committee published a report in October 2018 which the Committee hoped would inform the draft bill. Key recommendations included that the Bill and the Commissioner should cover violence against women and girls more widely to recognise the “gendered nature of domestic abuse”; that local authorities should have a statutory duty to provide refuge funding; and that the new Commissioner should conduct a comprehensive review of funding across all aspects of support for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
And reasons to remain vigilant in all aspects of safeguarding
1. The parents of a six-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by fellow pupils while at school have won a five-figure compensation settlement from a local authority.
The ruling, which is understood to be the first time the high court has approved a settlement relating to sexual assault involving primary school children, did not include an admission of liability from the council.
The girl, referred to by the pseudonym Bella, was repeatedly sexually assaulted by two boys at her primary school and only disclosed the abuse to her mother when she could no longer sit down at the breakfast table because of genital pain.
Between October and November 2015, Bella was assaulted on almost a daily basis and threatened with violence if she told anybody. It emerged that two members of staff had previously witnessed the boys displaying inappropriate sexual behaviour towards Bella in the playground.
One staff member found the girl with her underwear and tights partially removed with one of the boys behind her, but did not escalate the incident internally or tell Bella’s parents.
The local authority responsible for the school, which cannot be named to protect Bella’s identity, agreed to a financial settlement after the parents argued the school had been negligent by failing to protect Bella from the assaults, failing to safeguard the six-year-old and failing to adequately train staff. The boys have since left the school.
When Bella’s parents became aware of the abuse, they sought help for their daughter, but had to pay for private counselling after they were told Bella did not meet the criteria for assessment as a child in need.
2. Julian Brewer, aged 28, from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment – suspended for two years, 120 hours’ community service, a 35-hour rehabilitation requirement and an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Brewer was sentenced yesterday (Thursday 15 November) at Oxford Crown Court. He had pleaded guilty to making indecent images of children at an earlier hearing on the 26 October 2018.
The National Crime Agency received information in September 2017, that Brewer was using an online video conferencing platform to view indecent images of children.
Investigators executed a search warrant at his home in John Morris Road and seized computers and mobile phones.
During interview, Brewer admitted to investigators that he watched child abuse videos
Brewer’s devices contained 114 Category A (the most severe) indecent images of children (IIOC), 23 Category B and 23 Category C.
3. A 50-year-old man has been found guilty of conspiring to rape a child under the age of 13.
Mathew Law from London was found guilty today at Bristol Crown Court following a two week trial. He is the eighth person to be convicted as part of a wider investigation led by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Law initially started communicating with a prominent member of the paedophile ring (Christopher Knight), he used encrypted communication including TOR and the dark web. One of the men had access to a seven-month old baby, and the group began to plan how they could meet in person to sexually abuse the boy.
Over a period of months, Law’s relationship with the gang grew and he became an integral member of the group making plans to meet up and abuse the baby boy.
The group believed they were under the radar of law enforcement and continued to communicate using more regular lines of communication, such as phone calls, texts and Skype messaging. This enabled officers to link them together and unravel their plans.
1. A man has admitted 49 charges including sexually abusing a seven-year-old girl and possessing nearly 250,000 indecent images of children.
Konstantinos Hrisos, 63, admitted the raft of charges when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.
National Crime Agency (NCA) officers arrested Hrisos, of Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne, in September last year after discovering he had been downloading indecent images of children (IIOC).
Officers searched his home and recovered electronic devices which contained 246,829 abuse images, including 1,040 Category A (the most severe) images and videos, and a further 23,527 prohibited images.
Among Hrisos's sick collection of images were 'upskirt' pictures he had taken in a park of two girls aged approximately five and 12.
During the investigation, NCA officers learnt Hrisos had also been abusing a seven-year-old girl for at least 12 months.
He had taken more than 2,000 images and videos of the victim as he abused her and admitted sexually assaulting her on nearly 30 occasions.
He was remanded into custody and will be sentenced on 6 September.
2. A lodger who killed a 13-year-old girl to stop her from exposing him as a sex abuser has been found guilty of her rape and murder.
Stephen Nicholson, 25, stabbed Lucy McHugh in a "vicious" attack near Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre.
He first raped Lucy, then aged 12, while living at her home, and abused her before her death in last July.
Jurors at Winchester Crown Court found him guilty of three charges of raping Lucy.
He was also convicted of sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl in 2012, who he had taken to the same woodland where Lucy was found dead years later.
3. Alexander Philo-Steele, 36, was convicted of nine counts of sexual assault of a child under 13 and two counts of assault of a child under 13 by penetration following a trial at Kingston Crown Court, which concluded in May.
Today [Thursday, 25 July] he was sentenced to a 14-year extended sentence, comprising a 12-year custodial sentence with an extended period of two years, at the same court.
Philo-Steele advertised his child minding services on a number of websites.
4. Action Fraud has issued warning after bogus traffic wardens steal bank cards. Individuals pretending to be police officers and traffic wardens are targeting members of the public.
Increased number of reports to Action Fraud of fraudsters claiming to be police officers or traffic wardens.
A number of reports have been linked to elderly and vulnerable victims.
If your bank card is retained by an ATM machine, contact your bank immediately to inform them.
5. Teams from the North East Regional Specialist Operations Unit (NERSOU), Derbyshire Constabulary and the City of London Police carried out targeted strikes on three properties across London last Thursday, (July 11).
The strike action was carried out in relation to a suspected courier fraud scam which targeted elderly victims in the North East, and other parts of the UK and saw three men arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud. Three other men were also interviewed by officers in connection to the offence.
6. A father and son have been convicted for their roles in long-running conspiracy to exploit Eastern European workers they trafficked into the UK.
Victims from the Czech Republic and Slovakia were promised jobs with good pay, but on arrival were housed in poor quality accommodation in Kent and given very little money.
The vulnerable men, often homeless in their own countries, were forced to work up to 36 hours at a time doing hard manual labour, with some going without a day off for years.
7. A Catholic priest has been sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment for sexually abusing two teenage boys at St Joseph's College in Upholland in the 70s and 80s.
Michael Higginbottom, 76, was found guilty of five counts of serious sexual assault and seven counts of indecent assault following a re-trial at Burnley Crown Court.
The first victim came forward to the police in 2016 to report that he had suffered mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of Higginbottom between 1978 and 1979. The second victim saw a TV news report on the initial trial in 2017 and recognised the priest as he had also sexually abused him in the mid-1980s.
Charities have been alerted to fundraising and postal stamp fraud. Stamp fraud involves the preparation, distribution and sale of previously used stamps for reuse. Usually these stamps are sold online, at a lower price than the standard postal service rate.
Anyone knowingly collecting, preparing, distributing, reusing or selling used stamps to avoid paying full postal fees may be committing a form of fraud.
A number of charities collect used stamps as a means of fundraising.
Although we do not believe that charities are knowingly profiting from the collection and sale of used stamps, some are inadvertently enabling this form of fraud by selling packages of used stamps, commonly referred to as ‘kiloware’.
National Trading Standards’ flagship Scam Marshals programme is to be expanded thanks to new funding from the Home Office as part of the government’s Loneliness Strategy.
A Scam Marshal is any person in the UK who has been targeted by a scam and now wants to fight back and take a stand against scams. Scam Marshals do this by sharing their own experiences, helping others to report and recognise scams and by sending any scam mail that they receive to the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team so that it can be utilised as evidence in future investigative and enforcement work. This provides the NTS Scams Team with vital intelligence but also helps reduce the likelihood of former scam victims being scammed again.
The funding announced by the Home Office will allow the scheme to be expanded to improve the resilience of lonely or socially isolated older adults to fraud, scams and financial abuse. The new funding from the Home Office totals almost £100,000.
If you would like to know more about SAFE please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Best wishes from all of us for the festive season
The SAFE Team