Safeguarding News December 2020
Welcome to the December 2020 news round up.
Now would be a good time to review your organisation's safeguarding arrangements and SAFEcic is here to help by offering:
- SAFEcic membership at the heavily subsidised annual fee of £50 for not for profit organisations
- New online blended Zoom learning courses starting with the ever popular Leading on Safeguarding (Child and Adult) on 9 December 2020, more dates to follow!
Statutory Guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children updated December 2020
The updates include additional guidance covering:
- information sharing: the guidance clarifies that the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) do not prevent the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe. Fears about sharing information must not be allowed to stand in the way of the need to promote the welfare and protect the safety of children.
- homelessness duty: the guidance includes a new section on the homelessness duty. This duty requires public authorities – including social services functions like early help, leaving care and child protection - to refer any service users they consider to be homeless, or threatened with homelessness, to a housing authority.
- domestic abuse: the updated guidance expands the list of potential threats to children and young people’s safety to include domestic abuse, including controlling or coercive behaviour. It states that practitioners should continue to expand their understanding of domestic abuse and the impact it has on children. Definitions of domestic abuse and controlling or coercive behaviour have also been added to the glossary.
- child mental health: the updated guidance states the importance of staff awareness in schools that mental health problems can be an indicator that a child has suffered abuse, neglect or exploitation
NB This Guidance is still cited as July 2018
The Court of Appeal has agreed with the Attorney General, Rt. Hon Suella Braverman QC MP, that it is not necessary in a sexual assault case for the prosecution to prove that the offender’s intent was sexual. The Attorney referred this case in her role as ‘Guardian of the Public Interest’.
The Attorney General asked the Court to clarify the law in this area after a defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found not guilty of a sexual assault for forcefully kissing a woman on the mouth.
During the trial, the prosecution argued that what happened to the victim was clearly both an “assault” and also “sexual” as it involved a forceable kiss on the victim. The defence said it was not “sexual” if the defendant did not intend it to be. The Judge agreed with the defence.
The Court of Appeal has now ruled that this is not the case – a sexual assault can be argued if the evidence supports it regardless of whether the defendant intended the assault to be sexual. This will provide clarity for future cases, although it will not affect the original case.
Commenting on the judgment the Attorney General said:
“In my role as Guardian of the Public Interest I argued that an assault did not need to be intended to be sexual to amount to sexual assault. I am pleased that the Court has agreed with me.”
“I welcome the Court of Appeal’s judgment which will provide greater clarity for future cases – especially for victims of sexual assault.”
1.Health Minister Robin Swann has launched a consultation into legislative options to bring forward a new Adult Protection Bill. This follows the announcement by the Minister on 10 September 2020 that he would consult on legislative reform related to adult safeguarding before Christmas this year.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “The launch of this consultation marks a significant step forward in placing Adult Safeguarding on a statutory footing. Thankfully the challenge of dealing with abuse, exploitation or neglect is something the majority of us do not have to deal with. There are however some adults who are at significant risk of harm and it for those people that I want improved safeguarding arrangements put in place.”
The consultation will run for 12 weeks from 17 December to 11 March.
The Minister concluded: “This is the opportunity for everyone to have their voices heard. This is an issue that can affect all in society and I encourage everyone to make their views known on this important subject. Responses to this consultation will inform the development of a new Adult Protection Bill, which will put our reformed policy on a statutory footing.”
The consultation is seeking views about proposed changes to statutory safeguarding guidance KCSIE. KCSIE sets out those legal duties that schools and colleges must comply with, together with what schools and colleges should do in order to keep children safe. Schools and colleges must have regard to KCSIE when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
It is split into five parts, as follows:
- Part one - sets out what staff in schools and colleges should know and do. It explains their safeguarding responsibilities, what the various forms of abuse and neglect look like and what staff should do if they have concerns about safeguarding matters.
- Part two - sets out the arrangements for the management of safeguarding, including the responsibility of governing bodies and proprietors, the role of designated safeguarding leads and the safeguarding policies and procedures that should be in place.
- Part three - sets out the safer recruitment arrangements schools and colleges should adopt and describes in detail the checks that are required for individuals working or visiting a school or college.
- Part four - sets out how schools and colleges should manage allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff including supply teachers, other staff, volunteers and contractors.
- Part five - is about managing reports of child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment and sets out what governing bodies and proprietors should be doing to ensure reports of child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment are managed appropriately.
The consultation is for:
- School and college staff
- Governing bodies of maintained schools (including maintained nursery schools),
- Proprietors of independent schools (including academies, free schools and alternative provision academies) and non-maintained special schools
- Management committees of pupil referral units (PRUs)
- Post 16 providers in receipt of funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency
- Children’s services
- Professionals working in social care
- Teaching unions
- Safeguarding practitioners, including training providers
- Supply agencies
Reports, Reviews, Resources, Research, Consultations and Inquiries
1. Launching this year’s Ofsted Annual Report, Amanda Spielman said that school closures during the first national lockdown had a ‘dramatic impact’ on the number of child protection referrals made to local authorities. And, while that number has risen since schools re-opened, it has yet to return to previous levels - raising fears that abuse could now be going undetected.
Ms Spielman said:
“Teachers are often the eyes that spot signs of abuse and the ears that hear stories of neglect. Closing schools didn’t just leave the children who - unbeknown to others - suffer at home without respite, it also took them out of sight of those who could help.
“When nurseries and schools closed in March, they were told to remain open to the most vulnerable – which of course meant those whose need was already identified. And even of these, we know that relatively few actually attended. The rest stayed at home – some, inevitably, in harm’s way”.
Today’s report finds that the low numbers of children who attended school during the first national lockdown, combined with disruption to community health services, directly affected the ability of local safeguarding partners to identify children and families in need of early help and protection. As a result, local authorities are now more likely to be responding to a legacy of abuse and neglect. The Chief Inspector said it is imperative that all agencies now work together to prioritise the most urgent cases.
Throughout the autumn, Ofsted has been also reporting concerns about the number of children who have not returned to school after lockdown and who are now ostensibly being home-educated. A recent survey of local authorities suggests there are now more than 75,000 children being home schooled – a 38% increase since last year. However, from Ofsted’s visits to schools, it appears many parents have removed their children because of their fears about COVID, rather than a genuine desire to home-school.
2. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published Child sexual abuse in healthcare contexts, which finds that healthcare practitioners abused their positions of trust and authority to sexually abuse children under the guise of medical procedures.
Based on the accounts of 109 victims and survivors who came forward to the Truth Project, the report analyses experiences of abuse across a wide range of healthcare settings from the 1960s to the 2000s. Accounts describe sexual abuse in hospitals, psychiatric institutions and GP surgeries.
The report provides an insight into the role of healthcare in victims and survivors’ lives, revealing that for many participants, their healthcare needs related to the physical, psychological and sexual abuse they suffered at home. They spoke of attending health institutions seeking treatment, care and recovery, but instead were subjected to sexual abuse by professionals in violation of their duty to protect their patients.
Perpetrators were commonly male GPs or healthcare practitioners with routine ‘clinical’ access to children, meaning that their behaviour was not questioned by other staff, parents or children, even when they recommended procedures that were not appropriate or necessary.
Many described how the sexual abuse took place under the cover of clinical ‘examinations’, which in some cases involved the use of medication or medical instruments.
“ Under the guise of performing a medical test, called a high vaginal swab, he used that as an opportunity to rape me. I thought I was dying, but I also thought I had to be very quiet, because it was the right thing to do.”
Truth Project participant sexually abused in a healthcare context
The report identifies certain factors which enabled the sexual abuse to take place, including physical isolation in private consultation rooms, the victim’s lack of knowledge about medical procedures, and the position of trust and authority held by healthcare professionals, allowing them to instruct patients without being questioned.
Victims and survivors highlighted the extensive effects of the sexual abuse, with the majority describing a significant impact on their mental health, such as anxiety and depression, whilst others talked about a fear of healthcare professionals, and psychological and emotional distress. Over 20 percent of participants experienced a direct impact such as pregnancy or a physical injury. For many, the effects have been lifelong.
Many participants described barriers preventing them from speaking out, such as having no-one to tell, fears of questioning authority, and feelings of guilt and shame. Where they were able to disclose, they were often ignored, disbelieved or discredited, and dismissed by healthcare professionals as sick or ‘crazy’.
Julienne Zammit, Senior Researcher at the Inquiry said:
“In this report, victims and survivors describe how perpetrators in healthcare contexts would exploit their routine access to children to commit sexual abuse, which often took place under the guise of medical procedures. Participants feared questioning the power and trust held by healthcare professionals.
“It’s clear that not being believed was a significant barrier to children reporting sexual abuse, as were feelings of self-blame, embarrassment and a fear of speaking out against authority.”
3. The Culture Secretary has launched a major and wide-ranging review of gambling laws to ensure they are fit for the digital age as committed to in the manifesto.
Online restrictions, marketing and the powers of the Gambling Commission will be looked at as part of a call for evidence, to examine in detail how gambling has changed over the past 15 years.
Protections for online gamblers like stake and spend limits, advertising and promotional offers and whether extra protections for young adults are needed will all be explored.
The findings will be used to inform any changes to the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure customer protection is at the heart of the regulations, while giving those that gamble safely the freedom to do so.
The review will also look at evidence on the action customers can take where they feel operators have breached social responsibility requirements, such as intervening to protect customers showing clear signs of problematic play, and how to ensure children and young people are kept safe from gambling-related harm.
The Government recognises the need to balance the enjoyment people get from gambling with the right regulatory framework and protections.
It has also been announced today that the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will be raised from 16 to 18 from October 2021.
The review of the Gambling Act 2005 will also consider the Gambling Commission’s powers and resources to ensure it can keep pace with the licensed sector and tackle the black market.
In October the Gambling Commission introduced new rules on VIP schemes, and has called for evidence around how to ensure operators identify and intervene where people are at risk of harm, including through carrying out affordability checks. The Commission will also soon set out new rules on safer game design for online slots and withdrawing winnings.
Firms must do all they can to keep users, particularly children, safe and to stop any illegal content from spreading on their platforms but the legislation must support them in doing that.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has welcomed moves to keep children and young people safe online, saying there "can be no compromise" when it comes to child safety.
The response sets out how a proposed legal duty of care on online companies will work in practice and gives them new responsibilities towards their users.
Social media sites, websites, apps and other services which host user-generated content or allow people to talk to others online will need to remove and limit the spread of illegal content such as child sexual abuse, terrorist material and suicide content.
Tech platforms will need to do far more to protect children from being exposed to harmful content or activity such as grooming, bullying and pornography.
Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, said: “The safety and welfare of children must always come first. On this there can be no compromise.
“We welcome the move to introduce a new duty of care and the interim code of practice for tech companies. The IWF stands ready to further our strong record on assisting companies through the tools and services we provide with the ambition of helping to make the UK a safer place to go online.
“Firms must do all they can to keep users, particularly children, safe and to stop any illegal content from spreading on their platforms but the legislation must support them in doing that.
“This is more important now more than ever as, this year, IWF analysts have removed more child sexual abuse material from the internet than ever before.
“We welcome the Government’s focus on tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation online. The IWF’s mission is to remove as much child sexual abuse material from the internet wherever it is hosted in the world. We are ready to continue this work.
“Regulation alone won’t solve this problem. We need to make sure global efforts to fight child sexual abuse and exploitation material are linked up, and that there is an international response to this most international of threats.
“We know the demand in the UK for videos and images of child sexual abuse is still there, and that children have been made more vulnerable to abuse in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns.
“Nothing can detract from the fact this is a hugely challenging time, and we must all play our parts in making sure children are kept safe and protected.”
Ofcom has been confirmed as the regulator with the power to fine companies failing in their duty of care up to £18 million or ten per cent of annual global turnover, whichever is higher.
It will have the power to block non-compliant services from being accessed in the UK.
The legislation includes provisions to impose criminal sanctions on senior managers.
5. Six new case reviews have been added to the NSPCC collection this month
The cases feature a number of issues including domestic abuse, mother-child relationship, adverse childhood experiences and sleeping behaviour.
1.Severe knife injuries of an infant boy in June 2018. Father subsequently pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Child R and his mother. Child R's mother and her family had moved several times and were known to 20 organisations across four local authorities. During her separation from her first husband, against whom she had made allegations of domestic abuse, Mother became pregnant with Child R. Following low level concerns about Mother's mental health, there were referrals to social care and a social worker was allocated. Child R's Father assaulted Mother in August 2017 and threatened to kill Child R in December that year. In March 2018, Child R's father again assaulted Mother and a children's social care assessment concluded that there was no risk to the children. After being convicted for the assault, Child R's father stabbed Child R and Mother. Family is Muslim and from a Pakistani background. Learning points include: focus on children's daily lives and the emotional impact of domestic abuse; recognise the importance of previous episodes in assessment; and recognising the importance of families that move frequently. Makes recommendations including: ensure that all agencies promote a culture and competence to enable staff to evaluate the risks of domestic abuse in full; ensure that staff take full account of race, religion and other characteristics that may shape domestic abuse and its impact; highlight the importance of compiling and sharing information when a family leaves or arrives in an area.
2. Death of a 4-month-old boy in August 2018. Steven's death was initially suspected to be an overlay but inquest concluded a verdict of accidental death due to co-sleeping. Steven had been subject to a pre-birth assessment due to Mother's children from a previous relationship being taken to live with their father. Assessment concluded that support for the family was needed via a Child in Need plan which ceased in July 2018. Both Steven's parents had mental health difficulties and there were concerns about alcohol misuse. In July 2017 Mother attempted suicide. Several domestic incidents occurred between Mother and Father, even after bail conditions for Father stated that he should not go within 100m of Mother's house and not to contact her. Learning includes: victims of domestic abuse are given responsibility of keeping their children safe from the perpetrators of abuse without an assessment of their capacity to do so; perpetrators of violence, though identified as the source of risk to children, are not directly worked with to address concerns; relationships characterised by domestic abuse and between people with alcohol, substance and mental health issues rarely end without periods of reconciliation and contact; clear up-to-date records and effective, comprehensive information sharing are the foundations on which effective child safeguarding practice are built; workforce understanding of the risks of domestic abuse, particularly the risks associated with post separation are poorly understood. Ethnicity and nationality not stated. Review does not make any recommendations.
3. Death of a 17-year-old girl in March 2017 whilst a patient in a mental health unit. Clare was her mother's only child. Parents separated before she was 1-year-old. Father met a new partner, and had two children. Mother also met a new partner who had a child - both joined the mother's household. Clare remained with her mother but had contact with her father and his new family. In June 2015 Clare moved to a new area to live her father and his family. Evidence that the parental separation had a significant impact on Clare's emotional and mental wellbeing, and that her mother experienced bonding and attachment issues. Clare and her mother were first referred to child and adolescent mental health services in December 2009. Moving schools in 2015 gave rise to challenging behaviour, truanting and going missing. Evidence of increased incidence of self-harm, reported anxiety and attempted suicide lead to hospital admissions and detention under the Mental Health Act on several occasions during 2016. Clare's ethnicity or nationality is not stated. Key lessons: the need for early intervention based multi-agency approach that includes the school, Children's Services and relevant agencies; the need for schools to be aware of their students emotional and mental health needs and to share any concerns with the school's designated safeguarding lead. Recommendations: agencies should consider how best to maximise the voices of young people and their parents in decision making processes; and have awareness of the importance of early recognition, intervention and treatment of children and young people with mental health issues.
4. Death of a 20-day-old infant in 2018. Baby Darryll was admitted to hospital and died five days later. Mother was a care leaver, had experienced a difficult childhood, and was known to Children's Social Care from the age of nine-years-old due to domestic abuse between her parents. Mother moved into care at 13-years-old, and had episodes of going missing, child sexual exploitation, and drug and alcohol use. Concerns about Mother entering abusive relationships. Pre-birth risk assessment highlighted concerns over housing arrangements and Mother's cannabis use. Coroner's Court concluded an outcome of death by misadventure, with the post-mortem stating cause of death as hypoxia. Ethnicity and nationality not stated. Learning includes: recognising adverse events that have happened in a person's earlier life can provide important context to understanding their current circumstances and behaviours; in cases where an adult is judged to have their own vulnerabilities, and they already have a named worker to support these needs it is important that for any child living in the same household there is consideration to them having their own allocated worker. Recommendations include: inform the Family Nurse Partnership National Unit to allow them to consider the learning; promote learning, as a public health message to the wider population, about the importance of avoiding co-sleeping and unsafe sleeping arrangements with babies; seek assurance about the quality and effectiveness of joint working arrangements for those services who work with care leavers who are pregnant and who require housing support.
5. Physical abuse of a 3-year-old girl, Grace, and her 10-month-old sibling, Georgina. In February 2018 Georgina was taken to hospital with severely infected chicken pox; examinations revealed non-accidental fractures. Siblings were placed in foster care. A Finding of Fact concluded that Mother had physically abused Grace. Parental history of adverse childhood experiences; ADHD and mental health problems; Mother had partial deafness. In 2013, Father convicted for assault on Mother, and Grace was made subject to Child Protection plan; closed in 2015 due to Mother seeking non-molestation order on Father's release from prison and proactively seeking support; later found to be disguised compliance. Pre-birth Child Protection Plan for Georgina attributed greater risks to Grace's Father than to Mother's parenting; stepped down to a Child in Need Plan in September 2017. Grace is White British; Georgina is White British/Palestinian. Learning focuses on: understanding and working with carers who have complex histories; communicating with and responding to the children; responding to physical abuse in infants; management of risks after stepping down from child protection; and consideration of multiple forms of abuse. Recommendations include: consider raising awareness and refreshing understanding of the risks to infants of physical abuse for children at all levels of intervention; consider how well the reality that children can be harmed in different ways by more than one perpetrator is understood within the multi-agency partnership and what can be done to develop best practice; review the way that the category of emotional abuse is used for children subject to Child Protection Plans.
6. Death of a 2-year-old boy in December 2017. Child Ak was taken to hospital on life support but died of cardiac arrest. Was found to have several drugs in his body and multiple unexplained injuries and bruises. Father was arrested, charged and convicted of Child Ak's murder. Father was known to services and had prior convictions involving drugs and a history of domestic violence. Child Ak's paternity only established in late September 2017. Agencies agreed pre-birth that Child Ak would be subject of a child protection plan for emotional abuse. In October 2017 police found Child Ak in father's care with drugs present and an understanding that Child Ak was left alone in the premises for periods of time. Ethnicity and nationality not stated. Learning includes: develop organisational culture that enables professional curiosity and that is child centred and child focused, ensuring that the child/young person is 'seen' or considered, when working with parents, even if absent; ensure that the child's 'voice' is heard; ensure that expectations regarding multi-agency information sharing are clearly understood across all levels of involvement. Recommendations include: develop procedures for effective work with young people who are parents where safeguarding is required for both a young parent and their child; identify and promote approaches to engagement and effective work with fathers or partners of parents; develop strategies to enhance practitioners' capacity to work effectively where there may be complex parenting arrangements, for example involving different parents - especially fathers/father figures - for several children within a single household.
Worthy Of Note
1. The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is collaborating with a number of safeguarding partners to hold a consultation about safer recruitment practices, references and conduct information within the social care and health sector.
Working alongside Skills for Care, Reed Screening, Dominic Headley & Associates, and VBA Consulting, the aim is to develop resources which will provide social care employers with the guidance, knowledge and tools to allow them to share accurate and relevant information about individuals with prospective employers – and with DBS, when appropriate.
Gathering effective references for staff working in social care and health settings has always been an essential part of safe and fair recruitment, but many employers experience challenges in obtaining and providing them. Some employers refuse to complete references, others provide insufficient information and sometimes, appropriate ‘evidence of conduct’ is not provided, which is legally required by the Care Quality Commission.
Temporary arrangements put in place due to COVID-19, including the introduction of the 24-hour emergency Barred Lists checks, have resulted in an increased need for satisfactory social care references, and evidence of conduct. The COVID-19 Barred Lists checks allow individuals working in eligible roles to commence employment prior to receipt of the full DBS certificate, so references and other elements of safe recruitment are essential.
Consultation and workshops
In light of the above, DBS is working with the above-mentioned partners to hold an online consultation and several workshops which will then inform the development of a number of resources – all of which aim to assist social care and health employers where references and evidence of conduct are involved.
The workshops will:
- provide further information about the project
- examine the barriers and challenges that employers face in gathering and providing references and evidence of conduct
- look at any ideas that participants have for improving referencing within the social care and health sector, or any practices that currently work well within their organisation
Each session will include case study scenarios for participants to explore that will highlight some of the key issues we are trying to address.
Executive Director of Barring and Safeguarding, Dr Sue Smith, says:
Effective evidence of conduct and references are part of a basket of measures that are key for safer recruitment within the social care and health sector, and we understand the difficulties that employers sometimes face in providing and obtaining this essential information. We are working together with Skills for Care, Reed Screening, Dominic Headley & Associates, and VBA Consulting, to develop these resources and workshops so we can provide employers with the tools they need to support them during recruitment and ongoing employment, and in doing so, continue our work within the safeguarding community to make recruitment safer.
As part of this consultation, the DBS is asking organisations within the social care and health sector to take part in a short survey, which focuses on how they currently obtain and provide references, their understanding of references and the part they play within recruitment, and what they would like to gain from this consultation. Register your interest in a workshop
In August 2018, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (ICSA) published a critical report stating that, “appalling sexual abuse was inflicted over decades on children as young as seven.”
Ampleforth is a coeducational independent day and boarding school in the village of Ampleforth North Yorkshire. It opened in 1802 as a boy’s school and is run by Benedict Monks and lay staff. Gilling Castle Preparatory School is used as a leader for the school. It is now known as St Martin’s Ampleforth.
There have been serious allegations of abuse made against monks and lay staff who worked there. Father Piers Grant-Ferris was convicted of 20 incidents of sexual abuse in 2005 and Father Gregory Carroll was convicted of 15 incidents of sexual abuse in the same year. Since 1996, 3 monks and 2 teachers have been convicted of sexual offences against pupils.
“ Between 1970 and 2015, the Catholic church in England and Wales received more than 900 complaints involving more thanadmit new pupils 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse, made against more than 900 individuals, including priests, monks and volunteers.
When complaints were made, the church invariably failed to support victims and survivors but took action to protect alleged perpetrators by moving them to a different parish. Child sexual abuse, was swept under the carpet.”
Cuthbert Madden was removed from his post as Ampleforth’s Abott following allegations that he had indecently assaulted pupils. Madden has denied the claims. Deirdre Rowe who replaced Madden, stayed in her post for a period of 10 months before standing down following a “highly critical inspection report that found the school did not meet standards for safeguarding, leadership, behaviour, combating bullying and complaints handling.”
The Department of Education has now launched enforcement action after ruling that Ampleforth “had failed to meet safeguarding and leadership standards following an emergency Ofsted inspection.
A letter published by the Department of Education states:
“The Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson also had regard to the fact that the school is failing to meet the Independent School Standards (ISS) , including standards relating to safeguarding and leadership and management, and in his view, these failings are considered to be very serious.”
“The school failed to meet the ISS for more than a year before new leadership was brought in. In the year since then, the school has still not done enough to consistently meet the ISS, and in some respects the school appears to have relapsed.
The St Laurence Education Trust, the proprietor of Ampleforth College, is required to cease to admit any new students.”
Ampleforth have confirmed that they intend to appeal the decision.
“We will be appealing this on the basis that we believe, and have been advised, that it is unjustified and based on incorrect information.
Given the very considerable steps forward that have been taken by the school to learn from the mistakes of the past and to put in place a robust safeguarding regime, a new senior leadership team, and a new governance structure that has effectively separated the abbey from the college, we cannot understand why this decision has been taken, and we cannot understand why it has been published, given the appeals process is still open to us.
As far as we are concerned, we will continue to educate our students to the very high standards they are used to in a safe and supportive environment. We have lodged a complaint to Ofsted and await the outcome of that complaint.”
Between Monday, 30 November and Friday, 4 December 2020, officers from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation Unit carried out welfare visits at 18 addresses in nine boroughs across London.
Detective Chief Inspector Helen Barling, from the Specialist Crime Command, said: “This operation has been organised to safeguard the most vulnerable, who are often unseen by society. Officers offered advice and support to ensure the women are aware they are not alone and have taken action where necessary.
“We know that in many cases females providing sexual services have travelled from overseas, often fleeing poverty, lured by the promise of a well-paid job in the UK. However, upon arrival the situation couldn’t be more different. Their exploiters take their ID documents and they end up working in brothels - sometimes forced to. They can also end up in debt bondage where they owe money that they will never be able to repay to people they had trusted.
“Physical and mental abuse is common, as are threats of violence against family members at home.
“The public have an important role to play in recognising and reporting modern slavery. If you suspect someone may be a victim of modern slavery, report it. You will always be taken seriously and protection and support is available.”
All the addresses visited were identified as brothels. They were in Hounslow, Ealing, Hillingdon, Merton, Newham, Enfield, Haringey, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster. A total of 46 women were spoken to and offered support. Of those, five were identified as potential victims who displayed indicators of modern slavery.
The women spoken to were found to be from the UK, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Romania.
One man, a 36-year-old Hungarian national, was arrested on Thursday, 3 December on suspicion of controlling prostitution. He was taken to a north London police station where he was interviewed and released under investigation pending further enquiries.
All the females spoken to have been offered support from partner agencies, including The Salvation Army.
Intelligence gathered during the week will be developed further and shared with other agencies who are working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service to combat exploitation of this type.
Often they do not see themselves as potential victims of sexual exploitation and many will have been coerced into this life to make money for an organised crime network.
We know there are victims of modern slavery in every borough across London and you may encounter them every day, possibly without realising. As well as being sexually exploited, victims have been found working in construction, domestic servitude, agriculture, cannabis factories and in places such as car washes, barbers and nail bars.
They are often told the police and authorities in the UK are not to be trusted and with limited English are unable to seek help, even if they want to.
If you suspect that you, or someone you have come into contact with, may be a victim of modern slavery or trafficking and require support, please call The Salvation Army’s 24 hour confidential referral helpline on 0800 808 3733. This is the best way to get support to anyone you suspect might be a victim
You can also report a suspicion or seek advice through the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also report to the Met police online or by calling 101. In case of an emergency dial 999. Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
4. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a data sharing information hub which provides clear guidance and practical tools for organisations and businesses on how to share data lawfully, while protecting people’s personal information.
And The Reason To Remain Vigilant In All Aspects Of Safeguarding
48-year-old Sebastian Gabriel Podar was arrested as part of a National Crime Agency operation at the port of Dover in the early hours of Wednesday 2 December.
Nine migrants were discovered in the rear of his HGV, which was booked onto a ferry to France.
Among the nine was a 39-year-old Bangladeshi man under investigation for child sexual offences by Nottinghamshire Police. He was arrested and now faces charges.
The remaining eight migrants, of Indian, Algerian and Bangladeshi nationality, were handed to the immigration authorities.
Podar had previously been stopped on 16 October in the same lorry by police in the Edmonton area of north London. On that occasion six migrants were found inside.
NCA officers charged Podar with two counts of attempting to facilitate a breach of immigration law.
On 3 December he appeared before Margate Magistrates and was remanded in custody until his next appearance at Canterbury Crown Court on 4 January 2021.
NCA operations manager Chris Hill said:
“Organised immigration crime is a priority for the NCA and we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks involved in people smuggling.
“Complicit lorry drivers and the networks behind them are using both legs of their journeys to smuggle migrants into and out of the UK to maximise their profits.
“I hope these arrests send out a clear message to the drivers involved in this activity, and those considering fleeing the UK in this manner for whatever reason.
“This operation involved the NCA working in partnership with Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and Nottinghamshire Police.”
2. An Alloa man who raped a 12-year-old girl after giving her lemonade laced with street valium has been jailed for nine years. Alexander Keenan, 40, claimed the girl molested him and got a teenage boy to help him cover up the crime.
The cover-up included Keenan setting up a "role-play" by posing as a lawyer to get the teenager used to the questions he might face.
Keenan was convicted following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
Judge Alistair Watson told him the offence had been planned and that Keenan had acted in a "clandestine" way.
He said: "One could not fail to have been moved by the victim's evidence in this case.
"You have to take responsibility for that at some point in your life.
"You have shown no remorse whatsoever for this appalling conduct and demonstrate no insight to the harm caused."
The court heard how Keenan attacked the girl in a house in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, in May 2018.
He claimed he had been asleep in the house when he awoke to find the girl sexually assaulting him.
"I was worse than shocked. I was completely and utterly devastated," he told the court. "I was in my own personal hell."
He said he only learned of the accusations against him via someone else.
Keenan told prosecutor Greg Farrell he had "no idea" how the drug Etizolam was later found in the girl's system.
Mr Farrell said: "You know exactly how - you put it in lemonade."
Keenan replied: "That's not true."
He also alleged that a teenage boy had "volunteered" to support his claims and that the boy had invented the story that they had rehearsed what would be said in court.