Safeguarding News April 2021
Welcome to the latest SAFEcic safeguarding news round up.
We are also now accepting bookings for face to face training from September, subject to any COVID restrictions. For organisations needing to update training now, our new blended training courses are proving extremely popular, as well as our Open House option for those who just have one or two people to train. To continue to help by making our online training affordable we are also offering 15% discount on our online safeguarding courses which, if you are a SAFEcic member, you will also benefit from our members 10% discount too.
Legislation & Bills
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 will now provide further protections to the millions of people who experience domestic abuse and strengthen measures to tackle perpetrators.
For the first time in history there will be a wide-ranging legal definition of domestic abuse which incorporates a range of abuses beyond physical violence, including emotional, coercive or controlling behaviour, and economic abuse.
The measures include important new protections and support for victims ensuring that abusers will no longer be allowed to directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts, and giving victims better access to special measures in the courtroom to help prevent intimidation – such as protective screens and giving evidence via video link.
Police will also be given new powers including Domestic Abuse Protection Notices providing victims with immediate protection from abusers, while courts will be able to hand out new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to help prevent offending by forcing perpetrators to take steps to change their behaviour, including seeking mental health support or drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
In recent weeks, the government has added new measures to the bill to further strengthen the law, including creating a new offence of non-fatal strangulation, extending an offence to cover the threat to disclose intimate images, and clarifying the law to further clamp down on claims of “rough sex gone wrong” in cases involving death or serious injury.
The Domestic Abuse Bill was originally published in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny and the Government worked closely with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and charities to make key changes to the bill, ensuring the law is as robust as possible.
Speaking on the new law Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
“Domestic abuse and violence against women and girls are utterly shameful. As Home Secretary, I am determined to work tirelessly to keep vulnerable people safe and bring crime down.
The Domestic Abuse Act is long overdue. This landmark act will transform the support we offer across society. This includes the support Government provides to victims to ensure they have the protection they rightly need, so that perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes are brought to justice.”
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said:
“This landmark piece of legislation steps up the response to domestic abuse at every level – giving victims more support than ever before while ensuring perpetrators feel the full force of the law.
Thanks to the many survivors, charities, parliamentarians and colleagues from across government who have worked tirelessly to make this possible, more vulnerable people and families will be protected from the scourge of domestic abuse.”
Other measures included in the act include:
- extending the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse
- explicitly recognise children as victims if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse
- establish in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and set out the Commissioner’s functions and powers
- placing a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation
- provide that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance
- place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (“Clare’s law”) on a statutory footing
Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said:
“This law will fundamentally transform our response to tackling domestic abuse by providing much greater protections from all forms of abuse.
I’m grateful for the brave victims and survivors who have inspired this strengthened action and have helped inform this legislation throughout.”
The legislation is not yet fully published.
Reports, Reviews, Resources, Research, and Inquiries
1. Birmingham City Council found that seven babies in a thousand die in the city before they reach their first birthday.
The report found deprivation, ethnicity and health inequalities were key factors.
"That's two babies a week, over a hundred babies a year don't make it to their first birthday, it's a tragedy in the city and we've got to do something about it," Councillor Rob Pocock said.
The council agreed recommendations in the health and social care overview and scrutiny committee's report to form a taskforce to address the issue and set a goal to half infant mortality in the city by 2025.
2. Ofsted has published plans for a review into safeguarding policies and practices relating to sexual abuse in state and independent schools and colleges.
The review was announced by government last week, after anonymous testimonials of sexual abuse were published on the website ‘Everyone’s Invited’. It will seek to find out whether schools and colleges have appropriate safeguarding processes in place. It will also consider whether current guidance is understood by schools and colleges, and whether it is sufficient to help them respond effectively to allegations.
We will visit a sample of schools and colleges where cases have been highlighted. As well as talking to school and college leaders, pupils and students, we will look at how well systems of support and response are working, and we’ll discuss the wider issues raised by the evidence.
The review will look at whether schools and colleges need further support in teaching about sex and relationships, and whether current inspection regimes in state and private schools are robust enough around the issue of sexual abuse. It will also consider how well schools and colleges are working with local multi-agency safeguarding partners.
We will work with representatives from social care, police and victim support groups, as well as school and college leaders. The review is aimed to conclude by the end of May 2021.
Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said:
Like so many others, I have been deeply troubled by the allegations of sexual abuse posted on the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ website. Many of the testimonies reveal that girls have not felt able to report incidents of sexual abuse to their schools. We hope that by listening to young people’s experiences first-hand, this review will provide much needed insight into what these barriers are and how they can be overcome.
Schools play a vital part in promoting a culture of respect among young people – including between boys and girls. We will consider how schools can support and encourage appropriate behaviour, from the lessons in the classroom to the culture in the corridors. And when children do speak up about their experiences, it’s vital that schools have the support and structures in place to take them seriously and respond appropriately.
Det Con Laura Cotton and PC Samuel Jones were instrumental in helping to secure the convictions of Rachel Burrows, 30, and Kevin Prewitt, 37, who admitted a range of serious sexual offences against two children, both under the age of 10.
At Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday, April 27, judge Rupert Overbury labelled the duo's actions as "inhumane and sadistic", but praised the efforts of the officers involved.
He said: "Two Suffolk Police officers centrally involved in this investigation deserve public and professional recognition.
"Det Con Laura Cotton is an experienced officer who has dealt with cases involving children since 2015.
"At the beginning of this case, she was mentoring her colleague PC Samuel Jones and together they have worked tirelessly to ensure every aspect of this investigation was carried out to the highest professional standards.
"They were deployed to lead the investigation from the outset, being the first detectives to attend the addresses. They have since worked exceptionally well together.
"Although the details of this case are highly emotive, they have remained entirely professional and have dealt with every task handed to them to the highest standards.
"This was a very complex and unusual case which required the highest levels of expertise and dedication to achieve the final outcome.
"Suffolk Police and those who live in this county are very fortunate to have their services and I am very pleased to give them this public and judicial commendation."
Det Insp Simon Bridgland, from Suffolk Police, said: “This was a horrific crime and the two perpetrators will have a long time to reflect on their actions.
"It was a very emotive case which will leave a lasting effect on all those involved and we commend the professionalism of everyone who assisted the investigation."
Three new Case Reviews in the NSPCC National repository
1. Death of a 3-year-old boy in February 2018 in Croydon. George George had been in the rear passenger foot well of a car when the front passenger (Mother's partner, 'A') pushed his seat back twice and crushed George. 'A' was imprisoned for manslaughter, perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation, and George's Mother received a custodial sentence for child cruelty, perverting the course of justice and assault. Actions by Children's services for George and Mother included: supported accommodation; a child protection plan on grounds of neglect; a child in need plan and child and family assessments. Mother was considered vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to adverse childhood experiences, and there were concerns about her cognitive ability. Mother was involved with two men, 'A' and 'B', both of whom were involved in multiple incidents of domestic abuse and criminal activity. When George was 18-months-old he was taken to hospital twice with head injuries, which Mother claimed to be accidental. Mother and George moved address several times. George was White British. Learning includes: the impact on George of witnessing domestic abuse and unpredictable changes of residence was underestimated; George's presence was not adequately recorded during some incidents; the need for professionals to record and assess incidents considering information on all individuals present; the need for professionals to define demonstrable change in the situation of a child at risk or vulnerable adult before concluding sufficient improvement. Recommendations include: Medway agencies to improve methods of reporting and responding to incidents involving safeguarding issues and vulnerable adults.
2. Death of a 9-year-old boy in August 2018. Child H was found unresponsive in the family home and later pronounced dead. A police investigation concluded there was insufficient evidence to pursue a prosecution. Child H had epilepsy and significant disabilities. Family was in receipt of various services in response to Child H's needs. Child H was subject to Child Protection Plans in 2010 and 2018 due to concerns around neglect. Child H's father and mother were known to the police for involvement in drug use and supply and other criminal offences. Ethnicity or nationality is not stated. Uses a model of learning based on a Soft Systems Methodology. Learning points include: a professional focus on managing Child H's disabilities, rather than seeing a child who was disabled and neglected; the need for information sharing between appropriate agencies when a child has a Child in Need plan; importance of professionals escalating concerns about parental capacity in a timely manner, particularly when a child has complex needs; family medicine management should be checked by professionals on a regular basis, when prescribed medicines form part of a child's health and safety plan. Recommendations include: increasing knowledge across services on how concerns about a child's welfare might be managed; children's social care review their local policy on Child in Need cases, to ensure policy clearly reflects the need to involve partner agencies, particularly in cases involving children with disabilities; local NHS Trusts review their policies and procedures on recognising and responding to medical neglect.
3. Death of a 3-year-old boy in July 2016. Frankie was a hospital inpatient for life threatening asthma leading up to his death, and died within 24 hours of discharge. Parents were professionals and Frankie was cared for by a nanny; his older sibling was home educated. Frankie was seen at home twice post birth but was not immunised and did not attend the two-year developmental check. Frankie had twelve hospital admissions associated with severe asthma from the age of 20-months, until his death. Parents were reluctant to fully comply with medical advice and prescribed medication for Frankie; they feared steroids and declined or reduced numerous medications over various hospital admissions. Ethnicity or nationality not stated. Learning includes: medical neglect is less understood across all agencies and within the health system, which is a weakness in the multiagency children safeguarding system; impact of parents' social class upon the relationship with health professionals; parental challenge around medication is common but there is a lack of robust strategies to manage this in the hospital; absence of other categories of neglect appear to have reassured practitioners. Recommendations include: hospitals to explore how clinical teams manage parent consent for emergency treatment; hospitals must review how they manage severe illness in children when a parent favours alternative therapy; GPs and Health Visitors must have an agreed plan when following up issues of concern with families; all services must be able to evidence how their workforce participates in reflective safeguarding supervision which supports their learning and development.
The Professionals Online Safety Helpline (POSH) has released its quarterly report for the start of the year from January to March. Carmel Glassbrook (helpline practitioner) breaks down the key findings around professional’s online safety.
"In the first quarter of 2021, we have seen an increase of (4%) of cases compared with the same reporting period of 2020. Overall we have had 200 cases through to the helpline and handled 334 contacts.
We support the whole of the children’s workforce in the UK, but primarily hear from schools.
47% of our contacts came from teachers and 5.9% came from ‘other school staff’, (these were mostly pastoral staff).
5.9% of contacts came from the police and 6.8% were from parents. Females are more likely to get in touch with the helpline, with 58% of all contacts being identified as female, whereas 38% identified as male.
In the last year, remote learning has become an essential part of children’s lives. At the start of the year, we were still receiving calls from schools and other organisation about how to move services online, the practical functionality of different platforms and policy of remote learning.
We categorise these calls as ‘media literacy & education’; they made up 26% of contacts.
Cases categorised as ‘online reputation’ made up 19% of contacts. These cases are usually about the reputation of a school/organisation/professional being brought into disrepute online. More often than not, this takes place on a social media channel, in the guise of a ‘fake’ or ‘impersonation’ account.
‘Potentially harmful content’ came in at 17% and ‘cyberbullying’ 10%.
Where the case surrounded a live issue online, 33% of contacts related to an issue on a social media platform. 7% occurred on a video conferencing platform (which is something we have rarely had come up prior to lockdowns), and only 4% on websites.
We try to capture where we are receiving calls from so we can get a better picture of the landscape across the UK.
England takes the majority with 96% of contacts, with London being the busiest area at 12% of this total. 6% came from Somerset and despite being located in Devon, only 4% of our contacts came from here. 1.4% of contacts come from Scotland and 1.9% from Wales.
Worthy of Note
1. Childnet have launched "Talk it over" a new research-led resource designed to support educators in facilitating empathetic, honest, and evidence-based conversations on online hate and how to tackle it with secondary aged pupils. This blog takes a closer look at this resource and the way that educators can use it to support the young people they work with.
The research behind the resource
In July 2020, Childnet undertook a research project with over 2000 British young people, aged 13-17 years old.
The research found that the internet is the most likely place for young people to witness hate and that 80% of young people had seen something hateful online aimed at a particular group in the last year.
We found that nine out of ten young people agreed that no one should be targeted with online hate because of their gender, race, religion, sexuality, disability or transgender identity. 72% of young people believe that people their age have an important role to play in tackling online hate and creating a kinder internet for everyone.
What is Talk it over?
Talk it over is:
- written for use with young people aged 13-17 years old,
- informed by research led with over 2000 British young people,
- made up of quick activities designed to be engaging and adaptable,
- accompanied by key guidance for educators coving topics such as the law, safeguarding and reporting,
- free to download.
There are four sections within Talk it over, each with their own learning objectives:
- To understand what is meant by ‘online hate’ and why people may use the internet to express it.
- To examine the impact of online hate on people who are targeted and those who see it happening.
- To develop strategies for responding to online hate, including reporting it.
- To explore and develop ways to make the internet a more accepting and inclusive place.
Each section includes an infographic supported by key questions to guide discussions whilst sharing relevant findings and statistics from the 2020 research; and two short teaching activities which can be delivered in a 10-20 minute session and explore the themes arising from the research in greater detail.
Young people are already using the internet in innovative and inspiring ways to enact change in their communities and celebrate difference. It is our hope that by sharing the findings from our research, and the real experiences of young people that it represents, we can empower even more young people to talk it over.
2. Care home residents in England have been able to receive 2 visitors indoors from Monday 12 April as Covid restrictions continue to be cautiously eased. Regular visits are being extended from one to 2 people under carefully designed conditions to prevent transmission of Covid-19.
Visitors will be asked to provide a negative test result and wear PPE during the visit to keep themselves, staff and residents safe.
In the coming weeks, as testing capacity continues to increase, some visitors will be able to conduct tests at home, rather than at care homes, to help manage the flow of visitors and allow more visits to take place.
Visitors who are parents will also be able to visit with babies and very young children, who will not count as one of the visitors.
This means grandparents and great-grandparents will be able to meet the newest members of their families for the first time.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Reuniting family and friends has been a priority each time restrictions have eased, and the next step will be no different.
“I’m particularly pleased to allow residents to have more visitors, including grandchildren, given the isolation and concern felt by so many this past year.
“Thanks to the tireless work of care home staff, and the success of the vaccine rollout, we’re able to increase the number of visits in a safe and controlled way.”
The drop in community infection rates, and the successful rollout of vaccinations in care homes, means the increase in visiting planned in the roadmap can go ahead as long as infection prevention and control measures remain in place.
Further opportunities for relatives and contacts to have outdoor, pod and screen visits will continue in line with the published guidance which has been in place during lockdown.
3. A hard-hitting new campaign is warning teenage girls and their parents about the dangers of being groomed online by sexual predators as new figures show 11-13 year old girls are at more risk than ever before.
New analysis released on April 21, in the Internet Watch Foundation’s (IWF) annual report shows the growing risk of children, particularly girls aged 11-13, being targeted by criminal sex predators.
Predators groom, bully, and coerce their victims into filming their own sexual abuse on internet enabled devices, often in the child’s own bedrooms in their family homes. The images and videos of this abuse are then shared widely online.
IWF experts, who work internationally to find and remove child sexual abuse material from the internet, warn this abuse now, for the first time, makes up almost half of what they are finding online.
The IWF’s annual report reveals:
In 2020, the IWF confirmed 68,000 cases of self-generated imagery. It now accounts for nearly half (44%) the imagery IWF took action on last year (IWF analysts confirmed 153,350 reports of child sexual abuse material in total).
This is a 77% increase on 2019’s total of 38,400 reports which included “self-generated” material.
New analysis shows in 80% of these cases, the victims were 11- to 13-year-old girls.
Now, a hard-hitting IWF campaign, backed by the UK Home Office and Microsoft, is aiming to empower girls, and warn parents, about the “dire” risks posed by online predators targeting children.
“Some of the campaign is shocking. But the threat and the abuse is shocking. We don’t want to frighten people, but we do want to build resilience to the threat of self-generated sexual abuse of children."
Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, said: “The scale of the problem is appalling, and our fear is without intervention it will get worse, and more and more girls will fall victim to this pernicious and manipulative form of abuse.
“This is a pivotal time. With more people spending more time online, predators are finding new ways to contact and manipulate children who are, in many cases, a captive audience at home with their devices. Lockdown has made this worse.
“Some of the campaign is shocking. But the threat and the abuse is shocking. We don’t want to frighten people, but we do want to build resilience to the threat of self-generated sexual abuse of children. We want to help teenage girls to recognise the actions that constitute self-generated sexual abuse as abuse.
“We want them to feel empowered to take control, and to understand how to deal with inappropriate requests and report them to a trusted source.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The scale and severity of online child sexual abuse is shocking, and highlights the importance of our proposed Online Safety legislation requiring technology companies to keep their users safe online, particularly children.
“But these companies should not wait for legislation to be in place before they take action to address these abhorrent crimes. The Government has already set out vital steps the tech giants can take to stop sick predators operating on their platforms.
“I welcome the Internet Watch Foundation’s report and continued drive to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.”
Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft’s Global Digital Safety Advocate said it is important to tackle the root causes of abuse.
She said: “The horrific problems of online child sexual exploitation and abuse require a whole-of-society approach.
“Beyond developing and deploying technology tools and techniques to help protect children from serious digital safety risks, Microsoft is committed to working closely with the IWF and others to address the root causes that lead to child sexual exploitation and abuse.”
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said: “The IWF has been a valuable partner during the Covid crisis - working closely with the government to respond to threats and keep our youngest and most vulnerable members of society safe.”
He added: “These latest figures, though, make it clearer than ever that internet companies need to do more to protect their youngest users.”
4. The school sexual abuse and harassment scandal is a reflection of what is happening to women in wider society and is likely to be widespread, a leading activist warned.
Nimco Ali, chief executive of charity The Five Foundation, and government adviser on violence against women and girls, said allegations of abuse are unlikely to be confined to a small group of schools, because the impact of porn culture is being felt by young women and girls across the country.
Private schools in London were the first to be named in allegations of rape culture and sexual harassment. But a growing number of state schools and some primaries are now being named on the Everyone’s Invited website. More than 14,500 testimonies detailing abuse have been published on the site by schoolchildren and former pupils.
Ms Ali said: “I don’t think it’s something that’s just evident in private schools. As a woman and a feminist and someone that’s worked in the sector, I have known young women have been reporting the impact of porn culture in their adolescent and teen years.”
She added: “It is going to be kids everywhere and probably harder for kids who are disadvantaged and living in poverty to come forward.” It comes as there are growing calls for a full inquiry into the extent of the abuse in schools.
Britain’s most senior child protection officer, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, said he expects referrals to come in from “both the private sector, the mainstream state school sector and universities.”
Geoff Barton, head of school leaders’ union ASCL, said the problem of sexual violence and abuse is not just an issue for schools to tackle, but said social media companies, parents and the criminal justice system all have a role to play.
Ms Ali said: “What’s happening in schools is a reflection of the society and the world we have created for these young people… children are products of the things we put out there.
“It’s not about coming down on young men and teenagers, it’s about looking at ourselves as adults and saying what is the society we have created that has actually normalised this?”
Ms Ali pointed to a Girl Guiding survey which shows that two-thirds of British girls had experienced sexual violence or harassment at school in 2017.
She said: “I am surprised how men are surprised by these stories… any man that says they are surprised by the fact women live in fear of male violence is either a liar or dumb… I don’t want to contextualise it by saying this happens in schools — it is literally happening in society.”
She said young men are being let down by not being given the education and information they need. She added: “Young men are not born to be predators or abusers… addressing toxic masculinity is not just good for women, it’s good for young boys as well. There needs to be real, true reconciliation.”
5. A new helpline to support potential victims of sexual harassment and abuse in education settings has been announced today by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
The dedicated number, run by the NSPCC, will provide both children and adults who are victims of sexual abuse in schools with the appropriate support and advice. This includes how to contact the police and report crimes if they wish. The helpline will also provide support to parents and professionals too.
The government has also asked Ofsted to undertake an immediate review of safeguarding policies in state and independent schools. The review will look at the extent and the severity of the issue and ensure schools have appropriate processes in place to allow pupils to report concerns freely, knowing these will be taken seriously and dealt with swiftly and appropriately.
It will make sure there is sufficient guidance on how schools should deal with sexual harassment and violence allegations, and whether the current inspection regimes in both state and private schools are strong enough to address concerns and promote the welfare of children.
Ofsted will work with representatives from social care, police, victim support groups, school and college leaders and the Independent Schools Council. The review will conclude by end of May 2021 and will seek to establish where safeguarding arrangements and processes are good and have worked well and where improvements are needed.
Both the helpline and review come after numerous anonymous testimonials of sexual harassment and abuse were submitted to the website Everyone’s Invited.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
Sexual abuse in any form is abhorrent and it is vital that these allegations are dealt with properly. While the majority of schools take their safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously, I am determined to make sure the right resources and processes are in place across the education system to support any victims of abuse to come forward.
This Government is committed to ensuring victims feel supported to refer the most serious allegations to the police via the helpline, safe in the knowledge that everything possible will be done to bring offenders to justice.
No child or young person should have to experience abuse. But if something isn’t right, they should speak to someone they trust to raise concerns, whether that’s family, a friend, teacher or social worker, helpline or the police.
Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said:
Like everyone else, I have been deeply troubled by accounts of the sexual abuse and harassment young people have suffered at school and in the community. So I welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement and the opportunity for Ofsted to lead this review.
Schools have a crucial role to play in teaching young people about sexual consent and respect for women and girls. They must also be places where all children feel safe, and where they are able to report any incidents of abuse or harassment and be confident that what they say will be acted upon.
We will set out the terms of the review shortly.
Today’s announcement follows the publication of the Government’s Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy in January. The Strategy will galvanise a whole-system response that brings together agencies, sectors and society to tackle child sexual abuse, as well as a focus on prevention and early intervention, to help protect children and empower professionals, parents and carers to keep them safe.
It will also help victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to rebuild their lives by boosting investment in specialist sexual violence support services delivered by the voluntary sector, as well as support victims and survivors through the court process with the new and revised Victim’s Code and consultation on a Victims’ Law.
Where schools are failing to meet strict safeguarding standards, the Department for Education will not hesitate to take action. Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate will inspect any schools where there are concerns and ensure they either improve their practices or are forced to close.
All schools are also now required to provide relationships and sex and education to all secondary pupils and relationships education to all primary age pupils. Important issues such as personal privacy, respect and consent to ensure that more young people have a better understanding of how to behave towards their peers, are part of our guidance to ensure more young people have a better understanding of how to behave towards their peers, including online. Many schools do a great job day in and day out of working within a complex modern society but the new Relationship, Sex and Health Education curriculum will help them navigate some of the more difficult issues.
The dedicated NSPCC helpline number is 0800 136 663, which will be live from 1 April.
And Finally, The Reason to Remain Vigilant in All Aspects of Safeguarding
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Valentina Baghiu, of Borough Road in Tranmere, poked, threatened and grabbed the wrist of the victim who was frail and suffered from dementia.
The incidents had been filmed on the defendant’s mobile phone while she was working at Birch Tree Manor Nursing Home.
The first video shows Baghiu poking the elderly resident with a broom and shouting at her to stay awake.
In the second video the carer is out of shot but appears to be sitting next to the resident and filming her. She is laughing and taunting the resident and begins to poke the resident who becomes very distressed.
The resident says: “Get off me” and “I hate it, leave me alone.” She tries to get up and move away but the carer grabs her by the wrist and pulls her roughly back down into the seat. The resident cries out in pain. The carer then shows the resident a clenched fist.
Baghiu was suspended from her job on 9 December 2019 and she was arrested. Unfortunately, by this time her victim had died from an unrelated cause on 21 November 2019. She had been receiving 24 hour, one to one care at the home as she was at high risk of falls.
The victim's daughter told police officers that, towards the end of her life, her mother said that a member of staff had been grabbing, pushing, punching her and shouting at her. Sometimes she would have bruising to her arms but the family thought this was just due to the fact she would bruise easily.
A translator identified some of the comments that Baghiu had made to the victim in the videos. These included, "You're gonna get it (what's coming to you). Watch out, you'll see what a good plucking you're gonna get tonight” and "I'll mess you up like nothing else".
Baghiu was charged with the ill-treatment/wilful neglect of an individual by a care worker. She pleaded guilty on 5 January 2021 at Birkenhead Magistrates’ Court.
At Liverpool Crown Court today (7 April 2021) she was given a six-month jail term, suspended for 18 months.
She must also do 75 hours of compulsory unpaid work for the community, take part in a Rehabilitation Activity for a maximum of 15 days and she must be supervised by the Probation Service and pay £122 Surcharge to the Court.
In a moving Victim Personal Statement, the resident’s daughter said: “My mother was a social worker, so spent her life looking after vulnerable people.
"To then find out that, when she was at her most vulnerable, she was taken advantage of, is sickening. My mother had one to one care, which mistakenly made the family presume she was very safe, well looked after and, most importantly, happy.
"Instead, now we must contend with the fact that her final weeks were full of misery, fear and trauma."
Associate Prosecutor Alan Currums of CPS Mersey Cheshire, said: “This is an incredibly sad case. The victim’s family had planned their mother’s funeral but were then told it had to be delayed because of what had emerged about Baghiu. They couldn’t talk to anyone about this as a criminal investigation was under way.
“They had thought their mother was safe but she had become the victim of a heartless and callous bully who filmed the assaults on their mother because she thought they were funny.
“Most carers, including the staff at this home, care for the residents compassionately and competently, despite the challenges presented by patients with dementia.
“The good work of the vast majority of carers should not be forgotten when the actions of people like Valentina Baghiu come to light. They are the bad apples in an area of care that is often the scene of great kindness and professionalism.”
2. A former youth football coach and sea cadet officer has been found guilty of sex attacks on 10 young boys over a 35-year period.
William Hay, 71, abused his victims at various locations in Aberdeen and Perthshire, including a beach, a campsite, a sports complex and a golf club.
The attacks took place between 1981 and 2016.
Hay, of Aberdeen, was convicted of 12 charges at the High Court in Glasgow.
He had denied all of the allegations.
In a statement released after the proceedings police described Hay as a "sexual predator" who abused boys aged between 10 and 15.
Det Ch Insp Steven Bertram, of the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit, said he befriended his victims through football or sea cadets.
"He betrayed their friendship and their trust," he added.
"The bravery shown by the victims in coming forward to report these crimes has to be commended and this has been instrumental in securing his conviction.
"I hope this conviction will offer some comfort as they move forward from their ordeal."
The court heard a a previous trial against Hay was abandoned in 2019.
Judge Lord Sandison ordered Hay's name be put on the sex offenders list.
He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced next month.
3. Officers investigating the exploitation of young and vulnerable individuals into county lines activity have carried out a series of early morning warrants on Tuesday, 20 April and arrested five people.
A total of eight addresses were targeted simultaneously across London, Hampshire and Berkshire. Three men and two women, aged between 20 and 40 years old, have been arrested on suspicion of offences including conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and modern slavery.
Searches of the addresses continue but officers have so far found a machete, Class B drugs and a rapier sword.
The investigation was launched in January this year after officers identified a ring of people involved in widespread drug supply across the southeast of England through county lines.
The early stages of the investigation led officers to believe young children and extremely vulnerable adults were being used to deal drugs along the county lines. They secured evidence to suggest these individuals were being held against their will in order to clear debts owed to the group.
The investigating team worked tirelessly to identify suspects through CCTV, ANPR and extensive cell phone analysis. The operation has so far resulted in four young children and vulnerable people being rescued. They are currently being looked after by specialist officers.
The operation involved more than 150 officers from the Metropolitan Police Service, Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police.
Sergeant Tom Freeman from the Met’s Proactive Gangs Unit, which leads the investigation, said: “This morning’s activity is a culmination of months of hard work by officers across three different police forces. The operation focused on rescuing children and vulnerable people who had no option to do as they were told through fear of violence from those controlling them.
“The evidence we’ve gathered leads us to believe they were being held against their will until they paid off debts they did not create in the first place. Those involved in this activity entirely manipulated the vulnerabilities of these individuals for their own financial gain – a common trait of county lines lineholders.
“We know county lines activity is closely linked to violence we see on the streets of London and other parts of the United Kingdom. Not only have we rescued vulnerable people from violence and exploitation, but by disrupting this drug supply line we’ve destroyed the business model of this group and hopefully prevented violent incidents occurring in the future.”
All those arrested have been taken to police stations in London and Hampshire. The Metropolitan Police Service lead the investigation.
Inspector Richard Lane from Hampshire Constabulary, which supported the operation, said: “County lines and its associated violence can cause misery in our communities, and it is right that we put significant effort into dismantling these networks and safeguarding vulnerable people who have been exploited in this trade.
“We will continue to work with our partners to identify those responsible and target these drug dealing networks in north Hampshire and across the force area.”
Detective Inspector John Wordsworth, from Thames Valley Police, which aided the operation, said: “County lines drugs has a significant impact on our communities and often those who profit from drugs are exploiting children and vulnerable adults in order to do so.
“We are committed to tackling county lines drugs and this operation should be a reminder that police forces will work together across borders in order to stop this pernicious activity.
“We will also continue to work in partnership to protect those who are exploited by county lines drugs gangs.
“The public also have an important role to play in providing information that can assist us in dismantling county lines drugs lines and also safeguard vulnerable individuals.”
The below were arrested following the warrants:
[A] a 40-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs and on suspicion of money laundering.
[B] a 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and on suspicion of securing services from children and vulnerable persons under the Modern Slavery Act 2002.
[C] a 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and on suspicion of securing services from children and vulnerable persons under the Modern Slavery Act 2002.
[D] a 37-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and on suspicion of securing services from children and vulnerable persons under the Modern Slavery Act 2002.
[E] a 20-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and on suspicion of securing services from children and vulnerable persons under the Modern Slavery Act 2002.
4. A couple who sexually abused an eight-year-old girl have been sent to prison, after a National Crime Agency investigation.
Robert Stanley, 36, and his partner Danielle Schofield, 34, also fantasised about kidnapping, gagging and keeping a child chained up as their ‘sex slave’.
In August 2019 Stanley and Schofield had a video call in which Schofield sexually abused an eight-year-old girl. Stanley took screenshots of the abuse for his gratification after he encouraged and incited Schofield.
The NCA began an investigation in April 2020 after intelligence indicated that Stanley had accessed three Category A (the most serious) child abuse videos.
NCA officers arrested unemployed Stanley, of Feenan Highway, Tilbury, Essex, at Schofield’s home in Centenary Square, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire on 23 April 2020. Stanley was released on conditional bail while the investigation continued.
Forensic examination of Stanley’s mobile phone showed he had sent Schofield a Category B indecent image of a child on 6 May 2019. She was subsequently arrested on 20 May 2020. Schofield was also released on conditional bail while the NCA’s investigation continued.
NCA officers uncovered disturbing conversations between the offenders from 19 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 in which they talked about child abuse, and also discussed alleged previous abuse of the girl and plotted future abuse.
There was evidence that Stanley had four Category B images on his phone including two screenshots he took of the video call where Schofield abused the eight-year-old girl who NCA officers identified and safeguarded.
On 30 September 2020 NCA officers arrested Stanley, in Tilbury and Schofield, in Dewsbury for serious child sexual offences. They were remanded.
At Bradford Crown Court, the duo admitted arranging/facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, sexual assault of a child under the age of 13, taking indecent images of children and distributing indecent images of children.
Today, Stanley was jailed for four-and-a-half years and Schofield for three years and four months. They were also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for life and were given sexual harm prevention orders.
NCA Regional Head of Investigations Jacque Beer said: “There is no greater priority for the NCA than protecting children from sexual abuse.
“These were sickening crimes where Stanley and Schofield had disturbing conversations about their fantasies. A particular fantasy of theirs became a reality when Schofield sexually abused a child while they were on a video call.
“The NCA prioritises these cases to safeguard vulnerable children and prosecute offenders.”
Child Protection Charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation runs the Stop It Now! helpline which offers confidential advice to anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s behaviour towards children.
If you are concerned a crime has been committed against a child contact your local police. For child safety advice visit Thinkuknow.co.uk
5. A couple have been jailed for sexually abusing three young girls after a judge at Chester Crown Court said they had ruined their victims’ lives.
Judge Steven Everett described John Blake, 61, of Pine Grove in Chester, as an ‘sexual monster’ with ‘deviant sexual desires, who preyed on three young children’. On 16 April 2021, he jailed him for 26 years for 17 counts of sexual abuse.
Blake cannot be considered for parole until he has served at least half of his sentence and must also serve a further two years on extended licence after he has been released.
Judge Everett described his partner, Emmalene Jones, 31, of Crabwell Place in Chester, as “truly despicable” as he jailed her for two years for two counts of causing a child to take part in a sexual act.
Judge Everett said that although she ‘was under the influence of Blake, that she did her best to encourage the children to take part in the sexual acts’.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) successfully applied to the court for restraining orders to prevent both Blake and Jones from ever contacting the victims or their families again.
Both of the defendants have also been placed on the Sexual Offenders Register, Blake for life and Jones for 10 years. Both are barred from ever working with children.
The CPS said that the abuse happened in the Chester and Saltney Ferry areas between 2008 and 2015, when their victims were aged between nine and fifteen. The CPS secured guilty verdicts against both Blake and Jones after a ten-day trial at Chester Crown Court in November 2020.
The victims attended court to read out moving Victim Personal Statements about the impact that the abuse had on them. They all spoke of the long-lasting effects on their relationships and ability to cope. One said that, by saying nothing about the abuse, she had felt that she was keeping her own family safe.
One of the victims said: “I know now that for the rest of my life I will never be able to trust males the same and I will always judge them. My mind is broken and the scars run deep and this will forever haunt me and unfortunately the damage is done….All I can try and do now is move on and allow myself to try and live a long and happy life.”
Senior Crown Prosecutor Amber Quinn, a specialist lawyer with CPS Mersey-Cheshire’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) unit said: “This has been a complex and disturbing case.
“There was a lot of extra material in this case that the CPS was required to disclose to the defence and this took a significant amount of time to process. The evidence was also disturbing and shocking at times.
“The impact of these crimes is long lasting and the courage and determination of the victims has been remarkable, despite the difficulties that coming forward and speaking about the abuse has caused them.
“This determination was shown in their request to attend the sentencing hearing in person to read out their Victim Personal Statements themselves, while John Blake and Emmalene Jones looked on.
“This is the work of the CPS’s RASSO unit and demonstrates the crucial role both we and the police play in bringing the perpetrators of this dreadful type of offending to justice. The passage of time will not hinder our determination to prosecute.”