June 2020 Newsletter
It would appear that even with the current crisis, there are a lot of developments and news within the safeguarding world.
Firstly, and most importantly, following the publishing of the Inquiry into the RNIB, the Charity Commission has now issued a regulatory alert to all charities who either provide direct services and facilities to the public, both here and overseas,and/orall charities with turnovers of over £9,000,000.
To help busy trustees, CEOs and others at this difficult time SAFE is offering the following services under its community objectives:
- SAFE membership for a heavily subsidised cost for registered charities at £50 a year. Benefits include safeguarding template policies and resources plus a freeonline self review and audit of all your safeguarding arrangements. Successful charities can achieve the SAFE Award to evidence they have done everything they can to fulfil their duty of care
- A buy one get one free offer for all online training until 31 July 2020
- A free access and continually updated Crisis Hub
The regulatory alert advises charities, amongst other things, to:
- establish effective safeguarding policies and procedures that all trustees, staff and volunteers follow. Trustees, staff and volunteers should undergo regular training on the organisation's safeguarding policy and know how to manage and record risks adequately
- where relevant, appoint a senior safeguarding lead to help co-ordinate and drive your safeguarding strategy, and who can engage with other agencies and partners. Create a plan for responding to concerns overseas, where appropriate. Embed a 'speak up' culture throughout the organisation, so your staff feel acknowledged and protected when whistleblowing on misconduct by management, regardless of how senior the personnel involved may be. Set out clearly the process of reporting misconduct, and how you will investigate and manage misconduct with clear and proportionate consequences. Put in place anti-retaliation policies
- regularly review the sufficiency of your charity's arrangements for safeguarding and protecting people that come into contact with the charity
The Charity Commission will contact a sample of recipients of the alert later in 2020 to understand what measures are in place to manage identified risks.
The Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales Dame Vera Baird QC has written a letter to the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC MP to ask him to consider using courtrooms, which are currently unused because of the Coronavirus pandemic, to record evidence from child witnesses which could then be used when the case comes to trial.
Under section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 vulnerable witnesses - including children - can have their evidence and cross examination pre-recorded in advance of any trial which spares them the trauma of attending, and allows them to move on with their lives free from worry and anxiety about having to go to court.
Statutory and Non-Statutory Guidance
The document is for information only and does not come into force until 1 September 2020. Schools and colleges must continue to use KCSIE 2019 until then.
Annex H contains a table of substantive changes from September 2019
Online safety in schools and colleges: Questions from the Governing Board
This guidance has been updated for school governors to help governing boards support their school leaders to keep children safe online.
Governors can use it to:
- gain a basic understanding of the school's current approach to keeping children safe online;
- learn how to improve this approach where appropriate; and
- find out about tools which can be used to improve the approach.
The document includes examples of good and outstanding practice, as well as identifying when governors should be concerned.
This guidance is non-statutory and should be read alongside the Department for Education's Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance.
Reports, Reviews, Resources, Research, Consultations and Inquiries
1. Seven new case reviews have been added to the NSPCC National Case Review Repository this month featuring a number of issues including:
- Severe neglect and abuse of a large group of siblings by their mother and father over many years. Care proceedings concluded in 2017 and the children are no longer under parents' care. Six of the siblings are now adults. Evidence of the children suffering significant neglect and abuse by their parents between 2007-2017. Home environment was overcrowded, chaotic, dirty and unsafe. Evidence of physical abuse, domination and coercion, and failure to prevent physical and sexual abuse between siblings. Failure to ensure that the children received medical care or attended school regularly. Parents were uncooperative; aggressive to professionals with some disguised compliance and manipulative behaviour.
Attempted suicide of a boy aged under 16-years-old in 2019. Harry had experienced significant neglect, trauma, emotional and mental health difficulties whilst living with his mother, step-father and siblings in Scotland; subject to child protection plan in 2016. In 2017, Harry moved to live with his father in England. Incidents of self harm; suicide attempts on five separate occasions prior to the incident in 2019.
Death of a 10-week old boy in 2017 as the result of non-accidental head injuries. Forensic post-mortem found two injuries: one several days prior to death and another closer to time of death. Father convicted of manslaughter and grievous bodily harm; custodial sentence.
- Death of a 2-month-old baby girl in January 2017. A post-mortem found eight rib fractures sustained over a 24-hour to twenty-day period. Baby's mother was found guilty of manslaughter and received a custodial sentence. Baby lived with her mother and was the subject of a Child Protection Plan from birth due to concerns based on her mother's past parenting difficulties, alcohol and substance misuse and previous abusive relationships. Mother chose not to say who the father was. An older sibling born in 2008 was cared for by the maternal grandparents who obtained a Special Guardianship Order. The family is of white British heritage. Baby was born pre-term and was seen frequently by health and social work professionals from two local authority areas - she was viewed as making good progress and being well cared for.
- Neglect and possible sexual abuse of a 6-year-old child. Child was made the subject of a care order in January 2016 and is now in foster care. Mother had longstanding substance misuse problems and the child was exposed to criminal activity and domestic abuse. Three child protection referrals between 2009 and 2012 which were investigated but identified no further concerns. An initial assessment was completed in December 2013 and enquiries to the child's school revealed there were concerns about attendance, presentation, dental health and communication. A section 47 enquiry was undertaken and completed in May 2014 which identified significant concerns around neglect and parental substance misuse. Child disclosed sexual abuse by mother's partner to mother's aunt and made further disclosures when interviewed by police.
- Death by suicide of a 16-year-old young person. Ambulance services provided life support but the young person died in hospital. Disclosed self harm whilst at secondary school, but described it as a 'one-off' incident. Young person took an overdose in January 2015 but had no prior involvement with children's services or police. Expressed difficulties during sixth-form with academic workload and had several contacts with CAMHS and GP. Young person's partner raised concerns that they were accessing suicide websites and information online. Family are of White British origin.
- Death of an 11-week-4-day old boy after sharing a bed with his parents. An ambulance was called for Child K but medical professionals could not resuscitate him. Mother and father were arrested on suspicion of neglect by overlaying, but no charges were brought due to insufficient evidence.
2. The Independent Inquiry child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has published new research into child sexual abuse in sports, which finds that coaches and instructors exploited children's vulnerabilities in order to groom and abuse them.
Based on the accounts of victims and survivors who came forward to the Truth Project, the report analyses experiences of abuse across a wide range of sports such as angling, boxing, canoeing, football, gymnastics, ice skating and swimming.
The report provides an insight into abuse in sport being perpetrated at a grassroots level; for almost all participants, the sport was something they took part in as a hobby and for enjoyment, with some describing it as providing a diversion from a difficult home life.
Survivors spoke of being subjected to a wide range of sexually abusive behaviour, with some describing the abuse as being perpetrated under the guise of sporting activity, for example whilst swimming or in the foam pit in gymnastics.
The report finds that grooming was common; as well as trips away and gifts, participants describe perpetrators trying to normalise certain behaviours through overly physical contact, sexualised comments or being shown pornographic material.
Some perpetrators also gave the children they abused particular privileges or rewards within the sports club, such as allowing them to play in better teams.
The report identifies certain factors which enabled abuse to take place, including overnight stays with children, a lack of supervision and oversight of adults working in sports, particularly those operating as leaders, private coaches or instructors.
Victims highlighted the extensive impacts of the abuse on multiple areas of their lives, with many describing how decades later this still affects them on a daily basis.
Many survivors described barriers preventing them from speaking out, such as having no-one to tell, feelings of guilt and shame and the lack of open conversation about sexual abuse in sport. Where they were able to disclose, they were often ignored, disbelieved or blamed themselves.
The IICSA has also just published at the end of June "People don't talk about it": Child sexual abuse in ethnic minority communities
1. The New National Charities Strategic Relief Fund and how to apply were published on the 10th June and updated on the 19th June 2020
On 8 April 2020, the government announced a package of £750M of support for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Funding has been allocated to the Department of Education and the Home Office in order to support charities working to safeguard vulnerable children.
Overall aim of funding:
Keeping vulnerable children safe during coronavirus (COVID-19) is our urgent priority. The Vulnerable Children National Charities Strategic Relief Fund is to provide relief to national children's charities that provide services to safeguard vulnerable children and that have financially suffered due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). The £7.6m fund is aimed at large, national VCSEs and fits alongside a range of government and other support, including the National Lottery coronavirus (COVID-19) community fund which supports small and medium-sized VCSEs.
As a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact, many of these risks to vulnerable young people will have been heightened. In recognition of this heightened risk, this funding aims to ensure national charities can continue to provide or enhance services that safeguard children and protect them from harm, including from risks and threats:
2. A 'coalition of charities' will help vulnerable children most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as part of a Department for Education programme.
More than £7 million will fund the launch of the See, Hear, Respond service, to provide targeted help to vulnerable children, young people and their families affected by the virus and the measures put in place to stop its spread. The coalition, led by Barnardo's, will work alongside local authorities, schools and colleges, police forces, healthcare professionals and other vital services involved in protecting these children.
Funded by the Department for Education, the partnership will harness the role and reach of the charity sector. Barnardo's will work in partnership with other national children's charities as well as community-based organisations to provide solutions to the challenges facing children and families that may have been exacerbated by the unique circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.
The launch of the programme comes as the Department for Education and Home Office prepare to open a new joint £7.6 million fund for national vulnerable children's charities working in England and Wales on issues including child sexual abuse and child criminal exploitation. The money is aimed at those charities that have suffered financial harm as a result of the virus, helping them to stabilise and continue delivering for vulnerable children and young people.
Worthy of note
1. Emails purporting to be from TV Licensing claim that the recipient's direct debit has failed and that they need to pay to avoid prosecution. Recipients are told that they are eligible for a "COVID19 Personalized Offer" of six months free. The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information.
Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it is a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is urging football fans to secure their online platform streaming accounts and subscriptions.
- With millions of football fans expected to log into subscriptions to stream behind-closed-door games, advice has been issued on how to secure accounts
- The National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ, warns online hackers could break into football fans' accounts to carry out 'phishing' scams
- Top Cyber Aware tips include how to put a strong password in place and completing device updates that keep accounts safe from hackers
- There is also a new free online course 'Stay Safe Online: Top Tips for Staff'.
2. A convicted paedophile who was snared by a vigilante group is to have his case examined at the UK Supreme Court.
Judges at the UK's highest court will consider whether prosecutions based on the covert operations of "paedophile hunters" breach the right to privacy.
Mark Sutherland, 37, believed he was communicating with a 13-year-old boy on the dating app Grindr.
But in reality it was a 48-year-old man who was part of a group called Groom Resisters Scotland.
The Supreme Court will hold a virtual hearing to consider the case and will issue its judgement later. It will decide whether covert sting operations by vigilante groups are a breach of the right to a private life and private correspondence under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
3. Carl Beech, 52, claimed that he was among many victims of high-profile establishment figures who raped and murdered children in the 1970s and 1980s.
Telling police he had been transported to 'sex parties' as a child where he claimed to have suffered sadistic abuse at the hands of a VIP 'group', Beech's lies resulted in a £2million investigation.
Despite a complete lack of evidence supporting Beech's claims, he continued to maintain that his account was true throughout his trial.
However, the CPS put forward extensive evidence to dismantle Beech's lies and fabrications and prove that the allegations were absolutely false.
On 22 July 2019, he was convicted of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice as well as one count of fraud for taking money to compensate him for abuse that never happened.
Today at Sheffield Crown Court, Beech has been ordered to pay £23,960 within three months or face an additional year in prison.
Adrian Phillips of the CPS said: "The compensation money given to Beech was meant to support him following the extensive, sustained torture by high profile people that he made up and described to police.
"Causing unimaginable distress to the men he falsely accused and the families caught up in his deception, he gladly took money from the authorities knowing he had fabricated the entire tale.
"Confiscating this money will not undo the harm of his lies, but it is the final step in making sure that Beech does not profit from the shameful false allegations he made."
4. Working at Chataway Nursing Home in Manchester, where part of Anthony Cunningham's role was to manage residents' finances, the 29-year-old took advantage of this power.
In a bid to fund his prolific gambling and drug habit, Cunningham used the vulnerable victims' bank cards to withdraw money to fuel his vices.
On 8 November 2019, Cunningham was sentenced to two years and four months in prison for the thefts worth almost £45,000 he carried out against three residents at the care home.
On Friday 19 June, Cunningham was ordered to pay £11,873 within three months or face an additional eight months on his sentence.
Adrian Phillips of the CPS said: "Cunningham was trusted to care for some very vulnerable people and he selfishly exploited that role to fuel his drug and gambling habit. In one case he took so much money that he drained one victim's account, leaving them with just £6. Thanks to the work of our specialist team of prosecutors, he will now have to repay almost £12,000."
5. Survivors of domestic abuse and their children will receive greater protections after the government an overhaul of how the family courts deal with the horrific crime.
Sweeping reforms will see more victims of domestic abuse given access to separate building entrances and waiting rooms as well as protective screens to shield them from their alleged abuser in court.
Ministers will also make it easier for judges to issue barring orders which prevent abusive ex-partners from repeatedly dragging their victims back to court - which can be used as a form of continuing domestic abuse.
The move comes after an expert-led review into how the family courts handle domestic abuse and other serious offences raised concerns that victims and children were being put at unnecessary risk.
And the reason to remain vigilant in all aspects of safeguarding
1. The number of people seeking help for sexual thoughts about children has doubled during lockdown, a UK charity has told the BBC.
Campaigners warn that lockdown has created a 'remarkable and unique' opportunity for those wishing to exploit children.
Increased isolation, stress and uncertainty could mean that more people may act on harmful impulses.
The National Crime Agency had previously warned of the threat.
It said that 300,000 people in the UK pose a sexual threat to children.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is a UK charity that works with people affected by child sex abuse, including adult abusers.
The charity runs 'Stop it Now!' Helpline, a helpline for anyone with concerns about child sexual abuse and self-help resources for people troubled by their own sexual thoughts or behaviour towards children,
It told BBC Radio 4's File on 4 programme, that demand for these resources has doubled since lockdown.
Donald Findlater, hotline director said ; "Back in February, when coronavirus news dominated the headlines, we saw a significant reduction in contacts with the hotline and our self-help resources, but that has since reversed. In March, we saw between 200 and 250 visitors per week to the self-help resources. That number has grown to - and sustained - at around 600 each and every week, so a significant increase since lockdown."
The percentage of new visitors to the site is also increasing, currently accounting for 64% of total users.
2. Children are at an increased risk of online sexual abuse during the coronavirus lockdown, police and a charity have said.
Police said there has been a rise in online grooming and people accessing indecent images of children.
The Head of the Police Service NI's Public Protection Branch, Det Ch Supt Anthony McNally, said it "is one of the most horrendous crimes against one of the most vulnerable sections of our community".
Figures show that 1,460 people from Northern Ireland contacted the Stop It Now! helpline and self-help website in 2019 to address their behaviour.
In the past year, police said its child protection team has carried out 87 searches and made 47 arrests in relation to this type of online offending, with 121 searches and 79 arrests in 2018-19 and 158 searches and 87 arrests in 2017-18.
He also said children are at risk because of a number of "coinciding factors".
"We know that children are more likely to be online at the moment when they're not at school and we also know that people are not working or have been furloughed and generally have more time," said Mr McNally.
"We are definitely seeing an increase in people on the internet.
"Parents are extremely busy too and might not have the same time to look after their children's online activity."
Mr McNally also appealed to people who may have sexualised thoughts of children "to stop that behaviour" and said Stop It Now! - which runs a confidential helpline and website for anyone concerned about child sexual abuse - can support them.
For those that have offended, he said "the police will take absolutely robust action when a crime is reported to us".
Earlier this year, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said that it believes there are at least 300,000 individuals in the UK who pose a sexual threat to children, either through physical contact abuse or online.
"The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness of those things and do all we can as a society to prevent crime and do what we can to keep people safe," he added.
3. A deputy head teacher of a primary school has been charged with online child sexual abuse offences after a National Crime Agency investigation.
Richard Swinnerton, 30, of Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, was charged with three counts of possession of illegal images of children relating to category A (the most severe), category B and category C.
The defendant - who has resigned from his job at St Clare's Catholic Primary School in Middlesbrough - will appear at Teesside Magistrates' Court on 10 July 2020.
The charges relate to online child sexual abuse imagery. Officers have found no evidence to suggest that any of the images were made at the school and there is no allegation of physical abuse.
Elizabeth Eddies, St Clare's head teacher said: "I wish to assure all parents that the well-being and safety of children at St Clare's remains of paramount importance.
"These charges do not relate to his employment at the school. This is deeply upsetting news for everybody involved with St Clare's, which has served the local community and families for over 50 years."
4. A married woman who sexually abused a child and sent the images of it to her lover has been jailed for nine years, after a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.
NCA officers arrested businesswoman Katie Weeks, 36, and Gareth Southcombe, 42, both of Poole, Dorset, in May 2018. Southcombe, who owns a boating company, had the abuse photos on his mobile phone, and his desktop computer also contained 14 category A (the most severe) indecent images of children (IIOC), 14 category B, 15 category C and 35 extreme images. Weeks, an illustrator and designer who produced gift cards, sent Southcombe the images in July and August 2017.
His mobile phone showed that he had chatted online with other offenders about the sexual abuse of children and animals. Weeks originally declined to comment during interview in May 2018.
In another interview in August 2018, she blamed Southcombe for what she had done, saying she felt coerced and that Southcombe might have confronted her husband if she had stopped.
In October 2018 she admitted to investigators abusing the child and sending the images to Southcombe for his sexual gratification. But she went to trial at Bournemouth Crown Court in November last year where she denied that the photographs were of a sexual nature.
She was convicted in a unanimous decision of three counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, two counts of taking indecent photographs of a child and two counts of distributing those indecent photographs.
In January last year Southcombe admitted possessing two photographs of the victim, possession of 14 category A indecent images, 14 category B, 15 category C and 35 images portraying acts of intercourse with animals. Southcombe was jailed for 28 months.
Both were put on the sex offenders register indefinitely and also given sexual harm prevention orders indefinitely.
5. Video calls with friends and family, social media interaction, online games, educational use: during the corona lockdown children's lives promptly shifted even further from the real world into an online virtual one. Sex offenders have found in this development a tempting opportunity to access a broader group of potential victims. Europol's Exploiting Isolation report shines a light on the increased sharing of child sexual exploitation images online and how to confront this serious threat to children's safety.
Our homes were already accident hot-spots for small children. There's a worry that risks are heightened now they're spending so much time at home.
And less traffic doesn't mean we can switch off about road safety. In fact, cars are taking advantage of emptier roads to speed up.
So the Child Accident Prevention Trust are reaching out to parents under pressure, sharing their Parents' Pack which has quick wins to help keep children safe.
- Out of harm's way -
Whether you have shufflers, crawlers, toddlers or pre-schoolers, if you do a quick room-by-room check for these things, then you're doing a great job of keeping your child out of harm's way:
- Hot drinks to hair straighteners - doctors have seen an increase in burns during lockdown. A small child's skin burns really easily as it's so thin and delicate. Decide now where the safe spot in the kitchen and living room is for hot drinks - well out of reach of little hands. Do the same in the bedroom for hair straighteners and curling wands - even when they are cooling down, somewhere high up is best.
- Pills to pods - from the painkillers in the drawer to the cleaner by the loo, the disinfectant spray under the sink or the washing pods by the machine, they can seriously harm children if swallowed. Gather them up and put them high up out of harm's way. And remember to put them away again after you've used them.
- Button batteries - big lithium coin cell batteries the size of a 5p piece can be deadly if your child swallows one. Look round your home for them - in products as well as spare and 'flat' batteries - and put them out of reach of inquisitive little fingers. You'll be surprised where young children can find them - in light-up toys, remotes, gaming headsets and key finders.
- Out and about As we try to keep our distance but still burn off children's excess energy, it's crucial to stay mindful of road safety. Cars are taking advantage of emptier roads to speed up. So remember to check for traffic before you and your family step out into the road. And if you're driving, remember there may be people stepping off pavements or younger cyclists avoiding walkers. Keep an eye on your speed while you're making that essential trip.
If you require any further information please don't hesitate to contact us.
The SAFE Team