Safeguarding News October 2021
Welcome to the latest SAFEcic safeguarding news roundup covering both September and October 2021.
As we all adopt new ways of post-pandemic working we are pleased to announce the blended learning training schedule for the rest of 2021 amd 2022 and this is a great time to book your slot on these limited courses.
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Mind the Mental Health Charity asked us all to #DoOneThing. Because if we all do one thing, we can change everything. They say:
“Access to mental health support is too often determined by where we live or who we are.
It shouldn’t be like this. But we can change things.
Mind has produced some useful resourcesto learn about mental health inequality, add your voice to our campaign and spread the word.”
A recent Freedom of Information request to Suffolk Police has highlighted how sex offenders change their names. Out of 903 sex offenders living in the community 39 informed the police they had changed their names, a further 242 failed to report they had changed their names, aliases, addresses, bank accounts and even their NI numbers. This is 242 compelling reasons to be extra vigilant in checking the identity of all job applicants thoroughly as well as carrying out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks during the recruitment processes and requesting proper written references from previous employers or places of education
SAFEcic's free hub resources by setting have been relocated to their new home and are now available through the SAFEcic.co.uk main menu. Alternately you can bookmark the links below:
Legislation & Bills
Statutory and Good Practice Guidance
Anyone involved with checking ID needs to make sure they are complying with the new rules. For educational settings, Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) September 2021 now includes:
"All offers of appointment should be conditional until satisfactory completion of the mandatory pre-employment checks. All Schools and colleges must verify a candidate’s identity, it is important to be sure that the person is who they claim to be, this includes being aware of the potential for individuals changing their name. Best practice is checking the name on their birth certificate, where this is available.
2. Ofsted has published The Introduction to Positive environments where children can flourish
This is guidance for inspectors about physical intervention and restrictions of liberty and says
“Inspectors should use this guidance to evaluate how providers, managers and carers create a positive environment where children can live and learn and where staff interact positively with children. This guidance applies to all social care inspections and to the inspection of schools.
“While the principles we set out are important and apply to all children, inspectors should pay particular attention to settings that provide care or education for children who have neuro-disability, communication support needs or special educational needs.
This guidance is not a summary of the law or guidance on the area of physical intervention and restriction of liberty. This is about an approach to inspection.”
A ground-breaking approach to interviews for vulnerable child victims and witnesses is to be rolled out across Scotland.
The Scottish Government is funding the £2 million initiative – which involves pre-recorded investigative interviews of children conducted jointly by police officers and social work staff.
A key aim of the new Scottish Child Interview Model – developed by local authorities and Police Scotland in a series of pilot projects - is to protect children and reduce stress when recounting their experiences.
These core principles are embedded in a new intensive training course at graduate diploma level for police and social work interviewers run at the Police Scotland College at Tulliallan, in Fife.
Improving the quality of joint interviews, which are already used in Children’s Hearings, will also ensure they can be more routinely used as a witness’s evidence in chief in criminal trials, increasing the use of pre-recorded evidence.
Speaking after a graduation ceremony for newly trained staff at the college, Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans Keith Brown said:
“It is widely recognised that child victims and witnesses can be particularly vulnerable, especially in the circumstances which lead to a joint investigative interview being necessary.
“When gathering information from children, who are often already extremely traumatised, we must ensure the interview is as child-focused and stress-free as possible.
“The new Scottish Child Interview Model will deliver an interview process that secures the child’s best evidence at the earliest opportunity and minimises the risk of further traumatisation.
“Ensuring the interests of the child are central to everything we do. It is a fundamental aspect of our Bairns’ Hoose vision within Scotland and one that we are committed to delivering by the end of the Parliamentary term.”
Read more about the background:
The Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019 created a new rule for child witnesses under 18 to ensure that, where they are due to give evidence in the most serious cases, they will be allowed to have it pre-recorded in advance of the trial.
The regulations ensure that any child witness under the age of 18 giving evidence in the most serious cases in the High Court will be allowed to have it pre-recorded, intending to spare them the potential trauma of giving evidence during a trial.
The new model of joint investigative interviewing aims to improve the quality of this evidence so that it could be used as evidence in chief and also improve children’s experiences of child protection and court processes.
4. Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) September 2021 is now in force.
In addition to all schools and colleges as previously, KCSIE requires that all further education colleges and sixth-form colleges as established under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, institutions designated as being within the further education sector and providers of post 16 Education as set out in the Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Act 2021: 16-19 Academies, Special Post-16 institutions and Independent Training Providers.
They all now have a duty to follow the Legislation and Guidance to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
For colleges, guidance relates to the responsibilities they have towards the children who are receiving education or training at these institutions
Source: Department of Education gov.uk
Good Practice Guidance
The department has updated the advice in line with the revised statutory guidance, Keeping children safe in education. They will continue to keep the advice under review.
Source: Department of Education gov.uk
The SHARE resource has been developed by the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA). It is designed to support health and social care staff on:
- how to use the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) consensus statement for information sharing and suicide prevention
- how to engage with patients when discussing confidentiality and consent to share information
The DHSC consensus statement sets out how and when clinicians should share information about patients, within the legal framework, where this may help prevent suicide. The ZSA SHARE resource should be read alongside the consensus statement.
7. National guidance for child protection in Scotland 2021describes the responsibilities and expectations for all involved in protecting children and will support the care and protection of children.
The Guidance sets out how agencies should work together with parents, families and communities to prevent and protect children from harm caused by abuse and neglect. It aims to provide a national framework for services and local inter-agency forums to develop further their local multi-agency protocols, training plans and procedures. The Guidance also acts as a useful resource for practitioners on particular areas of practice and signposts where additional information can be found.
Source: Scottish Government
Reports, Reviews, Resources, Research and Inquiries
1. Birmingham Safeguarding Children Partnership have published a serious case review of the death of a 21 month old baby girl.
Their press release states:
Penny Thompson CBE, Independent Chair, Birmingham Safeguarding Children Partnership, said, “Lilly’s death at 21 months at the hands of her Special Guardian’s partner in November 2017, is profoundly sad. Sean Saddler, the person responsible for Lilly’s murder, has now been brought to justice. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2021. I offer condolences to her family and loved ones on behalf of the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Partnership. I know they continue to feel her loss intensely. Publication of the independent review that we commissioned to understand and learn from what happened has been delayed by protracted criminal proceedings. It provides a detailed and thoughtful analysis of events which merits reading in full.
“I’d like to highlight two issues: firstly, the importance of adult-orientated services sharing information with those supporting children and families, and secondly the value of professionals having open and curious minds. This second issue specifically includes following safeguarding guidance when caregivers present with repeated bruising on their young children.
“I am assured by the postscript to this report which evidences the actions taken by all agencies following the report’s findings, especially its acknowledgement of the important and positive experience that Special Guardianship can provide for many children.
We have produced aLearning Bulletin for professionals as a result of this report and I intend to request a meeting with the Local Family Justice Board to explore the learning and insights gained from Lilly’s short life and sad death.”
There were a series of failings during police investigations involving the late Lord Janner with officers appearing reluctant to investigate child sexual abuse claims against him. The Inquiry received information relating to 33 alleged victims, including details of their allegations against Lord Janner, which spanned three decades, alongside the outcome of the police investigation into those complaints.
The report found that Leicestershire Police’s Operation Magnolia, which examined allegations against Lord Janner in 1999, was insufficient and seemingly involved a deliberate decision by Leicestershire Police to withhold key witness statements from the Crown Prosecution Service. Kevin Yates, who was part of Operation Magnolia’s investigation team, thought there may have been a positive instruction not to mention Lord Janner to the Crown Prosecution Service. Whatever the reason, the failure to pass on these statements was serious and inexcusable.
Another operation, Operation Dauntless, was established by Leicestershire Police in May 2006, following an alleged victim’s allegation that he had been sexually abused by a number of men, including Lord Janner. The Inquiry found that Senior Investigating Officer Christopher Thomas and Leicestershire Crown Prosecution Service reviewing lawyer Roger Rock appeared ‘reluctant’ to progress the investigation. The report concludes that their decisions were unsound and strategically flawed.
Leicestershire County Council was also found to have had a sorry record of failures in relation to the sexual abuse of children in its care in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It’s clear that a number of Leicestershire County Council’s staff were aware of, and had concerns about, Lord Janner’s association with a child in its care, with the report concluding that further enquiries should have been made. The Inquiry found evidence that a number of staff raised these concerns with senior management. The council told the Inquiry it “accepts that it failed to take adequate steps in response to those concerns.”
Chair to the Inquiry Professor Alexis Jay said:
“Despite numerous serious allegations against the late Lord Janner, police and prosecutors appeared reluctant to fully investigate the claims against him. On multiple occasions police put too little emphasis on looking for supporting evidence and shut down investigations without pursuing all outstanding enquiries.”
“It was a similar picture for Leicestershire County Council, which had a sorry record of failures in relation to the sexual abuse of children in its care over several decades. A number of council staff had concerns about Lord Janner's association with a particular child in residential care, and further enquiries should have been carried out.”
“This investigation has brought up themes we are now extremely familiar with, such as deference to powerful individuals, the barriers to reporting faced by children and the need for institutions to have clear policies and procedures setting out how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse, regardless of the prominence of the alleged abuser.”
3. Jersey Safeguarding Partnership Board has published its “You Couldn’t Avoid It” Report, an independent learning review into the handling of allegations of misogyny, sexism and sexual abuse, raised by older students at Jersey College for Girls (JCG), citing alleged actions by some students at Victoria College.
A survey was conducted anonymously, in March 2021, by some senior JCG students, following the reaction to the murder of Sarah Everard and the allegations about sexual harassment in schools and colleges in England.
An independent review was later commissioned by the Safeguarding Partnership Board to examine the way in which the anonymous allegations were handled and to share the lessons learned.
The full independent learning review, by authors John Harris and Dr Susan Tranter has been shared with all schools and colleges in the Island
4. The ‘Child protection in religious organisations and settings’ reportexamined evidence received from 38 religious organisations with a presence in England and Wales, with the figures provided to the Inquiry about known prevalence of child sexual abuse unlikely to reflect the full picture. Child sexual abuse has been found in most major UK religions; with some found to have no child protection policies in place at all.
Religious organisations play a central and even dominant role in the lives of millions of children in England and Wales. The report highlights the blatant hypocrisy and moral failing of religions purporting to teach right from wrong and yet failing to prevent or respond to child sexual abuse.
Throughout the investigation, the Inquiry heard of shocking failings across a number of religious organisations, and cases of child sexual abuse perpetrated by their followers.
The report makes two recommendations:
(i) that all religious organisations should have a child protection policy and supporting procedures; and
(ii) that the government should legislate to amend the definition of full-time education to bring any setting that is the pupil’s primary place of education within the scope of a registered school, and provide Ofsted with sufficient powers to examine the quality of child protection when undertaking inspection of suspected unregistered schools.
Professor Alexis Jay, Chair of the Inquiry said:
“Religious organisations are defined by their moral purpose of teaching right from wrong and protection of the innocent and the vulnerable. However when we heard about shocking failures to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse across almost all major religions, it became clear many are operating in direct conflict with this mission.
“Blaming the victims, fears of reputational damage and discouraging external reporting are some of the barriers victims and survivors face, as well as clear indicators of religious organisations prioritising their own reputations above all else. For many, these barriers have been too difficult to overcome.”
“We have seen some examples of good practice, and it is our hope that with the recommendations from this report, all religious organisations across England and Wales will improve what they do to fulfil their moral responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse.”
Source: Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)
5. Wales update on the Review into peer-on-peer sexual harassment in education settings
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, asked Estyn to review the culture and processes at maintained and independent secondary schools to protect and support young people.
The review will consider the incidence of peer-on-peer sexual harassment and how schools’ safeguarding culture encourages and empowers pupils to stand up to their peers and report all forms of sexual harassment. Inspectors will visit schools in late September and early October, with a report to be published in December 2021.
Inspectors from Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) will also contribute to visits to independent schools with boarding provision.
The Minister said:
“Any form of sexual harassment is completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated. It remains a priority across the Welsh Government that every child and young person is supported, and that they feel able to report any concerns they may have.”
Estyn inspectors will visit schools during the autumn term, and we will await the conclusions outlined in their review.
The Minister added:
‘The outcome of the review will guide our work as we look to do more to keep children and young people safe – including the statutory addition of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) to the new Curriculum for Wales, from 2022.”
Source Welsh Government
6. A new report “The Myth of Invisible Men” investigates the death or serious harm of 23 babies is calling for midwives, health visitors and social workers to provide more support to fathers.
The independent Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel reviews serious child safeguarding cases – when a child dies or suffers serious harm, and abuse or neglect is known or suspected. The panel’s latest review looks at the lives of babies who were known or suspected to have been seriously harmed or killed by their father, step-father or male carer. The aim is to understand what led the perpetrators to harm their children, and what could be done to prevent similar incidents.
The key findings show that while maternal health and wellbeing are, and should be, the main focus of maternity services, insufficient attention to men means that support for them to be active and engaged fathers is limited. The Panel is calling for universal, antenatal and perinatal services to work with fathers so significant risk factors, such as domestic abuse, substance misuse, and mental health problems, are addressed and the fathers are offered support before the additional stressor of a baby’s birth.
This report indicates that there are systemic weaknesses in how services operate so that too often, fathers remain hidden, unassessed and unengaged. Everyone involved in safeguarding children must give more effective focus to working with fathers who are struggling and whose behaviour and backgrounds may present risk to children. This is vital if we are to protect better very vulnerable babies in the future.
The review makes the following recommendations for the government:
- the engagement of fathers must be embedded in prospective and current programmes, including Family Hubs, the Troubled Families Programme and the follow-up work stemming from the Leadsom Review into ‘Best Start for Life: A vision for the first 1001 critical days’
- a pilot project should be funded to holistically work with expecting fathers who meet the risk factors outlined in this review, providing them with perinatal health provision, local mental health and substance misuse services, and local initiatives to tackle domestic abuse, in a collective and integrated service response
- there should be further research into the backgrounds, characteristics and trigger factors of male perpetrators of serious harm, with a view to understanding how practitioners across agencies can more effectively engage with those who might present a potential risk to babies in their care
Also published as part of the research:
- Fieldwork report: National Review of Non-Accidental Injury in under 1s
- Psychologist report: National Review of Non-Accidental Injury in under 1s
7. The deaths of three adults with learning disabilities at a failed hospital should prompt a review to prevent further "lethal outcomes" at similar facilities, a report said.
There were significant failures in the care of the patients at Jeesal Cawston Park, Norfolk, it found.
Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board concluded such hospitals should "cease to receive public money".
The owner of Cawston Park said it was "deeply sorry" to the families.
The report looked at the deaths of Joanna Bailey, 36, and Nicholas Briant, 33, both of London; and Ben King, 32, from Norfolk, between April 2018 and July 2020.
Police have named Dami Tobi Ayans, 60, as wanted in connection with an investigation into the ill-treatment of Mr King.
Ms Bailey, who had a learning disability, autism, epilepsy and sleep apnoea, was found unresponsive in her bed and staff did not attempt resuscitation, while the mother of Mr King said he was "gasping and couldn't talk" when she last saw him.
Mr Briant's inquest heard he died following cardiac arrest and obstruction of his airway after swallowing a piece of plastic cup.
The report found:
- "Excessive" use of restraint and seclusion by unqualified staff
- Concerns over "unsafe grouping" of patients
- Overmedication of patients
- High levels of inactivity and days of "abject boredom"
- Relatives described "indifferent and harmful hospital practices" and said their questions and "distress" were ignored
The report recommends the Law Commission should review the current legal position of private companies providing services for adults with learning disabilities and autism.
In response, the government initiated the Transforming Care Programme to provide more community-based support to reduce "inappropriate" hospital admissions.
But more than 2,000 people are still in inpatient units like Cawston Park, according to a recent Commons report, which said "they are unable to live fulfilled lives and are too often subject to treatment that is an affront to a civilised society".
Source: BBC News
8. Over six thousand victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have now shared their experience with the Truth Project, part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. All have made a vital contribution to the Inquiry’s work to help better protect children now and in the future.
Launched in 2015, the Truth Project has provided a safe and supportive opportunity for survivors to share their accounts and put forward suggestions for change. Victims and survivors can still share in writing before it closes in October this year.
The Truth Project is drawing to a close this year so that all of the experiences shared can help to inform the Final Report, which is due to be published in 2022.
Anyone considering sharing their experience can get in touch with the Truth Project team, who can help answer any questions or concerns that they might have.
9. Lady Smith has published her findings into the Scottish Government’s response between August 2002 and December 2014 to Petition PE535, and other key issues raised by adult survivors of childhood abuse experienced in care in Scotland.
The petition was presented to the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament by abuse survivor Chris Daly. Lady Smith concludes the delay of more than 13 years in setting up a public inquiry was woeful and wholly avoidable.
The findings also examine other key issues raised by adult survivors of childhood abuse experienced in care in Scotland arising after the petition was presented.
Lady Smith, Chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, said: “For far too long survivors’ voices were not listened to, nor heard; they were treated as if their views did not matter and as if they were not worth listening to, just as when they were abused in care.
Lady Smith added: “It was clear throughout that the justice survivors were calling for, and was of paramount importance to them, was the need for public acknowledgement of their experiences of being abused as children in institutional care, and the need to hold to account those who did not listen to them when they were children, those responsible for the abuse, and those who failed to prevent the abuse from happening.
“However, between 2002 and 2014, there was no appetite within Scottish Government, at official or ministerial level, for setting up a public inquiry.
“The delay was the result of a variety of factors including:
- some ineptitude
- some confusion on the part of ministers and officials
- diversion into areas that were not the subject of the Daly petition
- officials urging ministers not to hold an inquiry
- officials controlling the process up to the point of trying to prevent there being an inquiry
- ministers following the advice of officials while not reading and trying to understand the Daly petition for themselves
- both ministers and officials failing to listen to and engage with survivors
Source: Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
Worthy of Note
A headteacher and her father were sentenced on 11 October for running an unregistered school in south London.
They had been previously convicted of the same criminal offence 2 years ago.
Nadia Ali was sentenced to 8 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 120 hours of unpaid work, a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement, a prohibited activity requirement of not running or managing a school and ordered to pay costs of £500. Her father, Arshad Ali, was fined £300 and ordered to pay costs of £200. Ambassadors Home School Limited was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £500.
To date, there have been 5 successful prosecutions for running an unregistered school, but today marks the second time a prison sentence has been imposed.
The case dates back to June 2018 when inspectors from Ofsted’s unregistered schools’ taskforce first visited Ambassadors High School in Streatham, south London. They warned the headteacher, Ms Ali, that they believed the setting was operating illegally.
The following September, Ambassador’s High School applied to register as an independent school, with Nadia Ali’s father, Arshad Ali, named as proprietor. Ofsted carried out a pre-registration inspection in February 2019, which identified serious safeguarding issues and judged that the school, which charged fees of up to £4,500 per pupil, per year, would not meet the independent school standards. However, the school remained open after failing its pre-registration inspection and continued to operate illegally.
In September 2019, Nadia and Arshad Ali were found guilty of running an illegal unregistered school, contrary to section 96 of the Education and Skills Act 2008. Together they were fined £200 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and a total of £155 in victim surcharges. Nadia Ali was also sentenced to 120 hours of community service.
However, despite these convictions, when Ofsted inspectors returned to the school 3 more times, between November 2019 and March 2020, they found that it continued to operate.
Inspectors identified several safeguarding failings at the school. It was unclear whether teaching staff had been subject to appropriate employment vetting checks, and those in charge were unable to confirm the identities of all the adults working with children. Inspectors also found fire extinguishers were missing from brackets on walls, and fire evacuation plans displayed in classrooms were incomplete.
Inspectors were informed that children attending the setting were home-educated. However, there was clear evidence that the school was continuing to provide full-time education to at least 5 or more pupils of compulsory school age, meaning it was legally required to register.
HM Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said:
“It is with breathtaking arrogance that Nadia and Arshad Ali continued to run this illegal school after their convictions 2 years ago. I’m pleased that the judge ruled that a suspended prison sentence was appropriate, given the seriousness of the repeat offending.
Unregistered schools deny children a proper education and put their safety and well-being at risk. I hope today’s sentence sends a clear message to all those running unregistered schools that Ofsted will not tire in our efforts to bring them to justice. But as I have said many times over the last few years, and as this case demonstrates, we urgently need the legislation to be strengthened so that we can take action against these places quickly and conclusively.”
A "Rotherham-style" inquiry is needed to address allegations of child sexual exploitation in Bradford, say MPs.
Speaking in a House of Commons debate on the subject, Keighley and Ilkley MP Robbie Moore said the issue was being "swept under the carpet".
Conservative MP Mr Moore told the House of Commons: "Let's call this problem out for what it is: predominantly a small minority of largely Pakistani Muslim men in West Yorkshire, including, I'm sad to say, in Keighley and across the Bradford district, that have been sexually exploiting young children for far too long.
"The Pakistani community are quite rightly outraged that the entire community is being branded with the same accusation. It is not fair and it is deeply offensive.
"This isn't about race or pitching communities against each other, it's about looking at the facts so we can address them head-on and move forward.
"We need a Rotherham-style inquiry to address these issues."
Fellow Conservative Phil Davies MP for Shipley, said: "This is really just about the victims and making sure that a) they get the justice they deserve and b) we make sure there are no future victims of this terrible crime."
In 2014 an independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham found at least 1,400 young people had been abused in the town in a 16-year period.
Bradford Council has previously rejected calls for a full inquiry, saying improvements are already being made.
Pauline and Roger Fitter said they would cherish memories of watching vulnerable children flourish at their home in Camelsdale, West Sussex.
One girl, aged three, arrived "silent", unwilling to make eye contact or be touched, Mrs Fitter, 81, recalled.
"It was a long process with her and then one day she just put her very tiny little hand inside mine," she said.
"She must be in her 30s, but that has stayed with me because she was such a damaged little girl. It sounds a small thing, but actually it's not, it's huge."
Alongside fostering, the couple raised five children - including an adopted child who they had previously fostered - and now have 11 grandchildren.
Home life had been at times "quite chaotic," but the house was "still standing", Mrs Fitter told BBC Radio 4's World at One.
Mr Fitter, 86, a retired forester, said: "I don't think at any point we thought enough is enough. We could see the results of our efforts and it was very rewarding."
The couple began fostering in 1965 after Mrs Fitter, a nurse, worked in a residential nursery with young children and babies awaiting adoption.
"It really hurt me to see these babies becoming institutionalised and I promised myself at the age of 19 that when I married I would foster," she said.
Three months after their marriage in September 1965, the couple welcomed their first foster child - a newborn baby boy who had bronchitis.
Over the years, they specialised in taking children whose futures depended on the outcome of a forthcoming court case.
Mrs Fitter said: "They're usually traumatised, they're usually very sad, they don't want to be taken from home."
"It's quite emotional work, but we've always worked on the understanding that the children have been through a lot, we are grown up, we can manage it too."
Mr Fitter said fostering had "fitted in very well with our lifestyle," adding his role had been "basically to do the driving...mend things and, most importantly, I was there to be shouted at if [Pauline] had a bad day".
Jacquie Russell, of West Sussex County Council, praised the Fitters' "extraordinary" commitment, but said there continued to be a "huge" need for more foster carers.
Ofsted figures from November 2020 show a shortage of foster carers amid rising demand.
Source: BBC News
4. The Panorama programme 'Who's Protecting our Kids? aired on Sunday 5 September 2021 has followed up on research from 2017, when police recorded almost 8,000 reports of abuse among under-18s in England and Wales.
Yearly reports have risen to between 15,000 and 16,000, but cases fell in 2020-21 during the pandemic.
In about 10% of reported cases the alleged abuser was aged 10 or under.
Thirty-four of the 43 police forces in England and Wales responded to Freedom of Information requests asking for the number of sexual offences reports, including rape and sexual assault, where both the alleged perpetrator and victim were under 18
The figures did not include the online offence of non-consensual sharing of private sexual images or videos.
The Labour MP and former teacher, Emma Hardy, said: "I still think that those figures might be an underestimation of the extent of the problem, because not all cases ended up going to the police. Not all things are reported."
Dr Rebekah Eglinton, chief psychologist for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, said unwanted touching, as well as being pressured into sharing nude photos, had become a part of everyday life for children "to the point where they wouldn't bother reporting it".
"What children have said to us is that sexual violence is now completely normalised through social media platforms [and] through access to online pornography," she told Panorama.
In April, the NSPCC set up a helpline for school pupils, commissioned by the Department for Education, in response to the testimonies collated via the Everyone's Invited project. The charity says it has been contacted 653 times since its launch.
Source: BBC News
5. The Home Secretary has asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to review the harm caused by nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas, after over half a million young people reported taking the drug in 2019-20.
Now the second most used drug by 16-24 year olds in the UK, the ACMD’s assessment could include more education for young people on its harms or tougher punishment for those who supply the drug to children.
Nitrous oxide, which is usually sold in small silver canisters and inhaled, can cause serious long-term effects such as vitamin B12 deficiency and anaemia. It is also commonly used at anti-social gatherings and leads to widespread littering in public places, bringing misery to communities.
As part of the review, the ACMD has also been asked to consider whether unlawful possession of nitrous oxide should be made an offence.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
Misusing drugs can have a devastating impact on lives and communities – we are determined to do all we can to address this issue and protect the futures of our children and young people.
Should the expert Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommend further restrictions on this drug, we stand ready to take tough action.
The sale of nitrous oxide for its psychoactive effects was made illegal after the Psychoactive Substances Act in 2016, but it is not currently a crime to be caught in possession of the drug. The government has concerns that this could be a significant factor resulting in the increasing consumption of the substance.
Source: Home Office gov.uk
The IWF has taken the top prize in the DCA's Purpose Driven Communications (Covid 19) category for its work campaigning to raise awareness of the rise of “self-generated” child sexual abuse material.
2. The Gurls out Loud campaign, aimed at teenage girls, and the Home Truths campaign, aimed at parents, set out to address the startling increase in reports of self-generated sexual abuse imagery of children – predominantly 11 to 13-year-old girls – who have often been targeted by predators in their own bedrooms.
Throughout 2020, self-generated imagery accounted for nearly half (44%) of the total content the IWF sought removal for.
The campaigns have had a particular importance during the Covid pandemic, during which more children, and more sexual predators, have been spending longer online, putting children at greater risk of grooming and sexual abuse.
Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, said: “This award really is testament to the hard work of all our staff during the pandemic
“It is clear that sexual predators exploited the coronavirus pandemic to contact and abuse children online, and 2020 was a record year for the number of reports of child sexual abuse material we dealt with, and the amount of criminal material we worked to have removed.
“Our campaigning has taken our work to the next level. We want to empower children, particularly young girls, to stand up to internet sex predators and call them out for what they are. Being on the receiving end of bullying and blackmail can be a very lonely place.
“For parents, we know one good quality conversation about the potential dangers online can make all the difference. We hope these campaigns have sparked important conversations in households everywhere.”
and #AskTheAwkward help sheets and #AskTheAwkward films explore lots of topics. To help parents and carers to get talking, they have picked out the key topics from each film and created help sheets with suggested conversation starters and links to further information.
She will also call on G7 partners to back the UK approach in holding the internet technology giants to account if harmful content continues to be posted across their platforms and if they neglect public safety when designing their products.
Her call to action comes as she launches a new fund aimed at tackling child sexual abuse online.
Innovators and tech experts will be given government funding to show the internet technology giants how they can better design their products and not increase the risk of their platform’s being a safe haven for child sexual abusers.
The UK’s new Safety Tech Challenge Fund will award five organisations from across the world up to £85,000 each to develop innovative technologies to keep children safe when using end-to-end encrypted messaging services.
The fund, which will run for five months from November 2021, is part of the government’s wider effort to tackle harmful behaviours taking place on social media and other online platforms.
Source: Home Office
1. Whistleblowing disclosures made to the Charity Commission for England and Wales 2020 to 2021 Published 30 September 2021 This report explains whistleblowing disclosures made to the Charity Commission, what was done and how they contributed to the Charity Commission regulatory work. The report explains the Commission’s approach to whistleblowing and the reports that they received between 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. They publish this in response to their duty as a prescribed person to report annually on the whistleblowing disclosures that have been made to them. This duty can be found in The Prescribed Persons (Reports on Disclosures of Information) Regulations 2017.The government will collate the reports from Prescribed Persons and lay them before Parliament.431 whistleblowing disclosures were received in 2020 to 2021. This is a continuing increase compared with previous years. Of those 178 were about safeguarding and protecting people
All charities, NGOs and not-for-profits are susceptible to fraud and can be targeted. Those providing services and supporting local communities may be especially vulnerable to fraudsters attempting to exploit current national and global crises to carry out fraud and cybercrime. This means that now - more than ever - charities need to be fraud aware and take steps to protect their money, people and assets from harm.
Preventing Charity Fraud guidance is for
- trustees, directors, board members, staff and volunteers
- organisations that represent the interests of the sector and/or act as their voice
- accountants, auditors, solicitors and insurers acting as professional advisors to the sector
- regulators, law enforcers and policymakers working to safeguard the sector, and
- anyone else who wants to protect the sector and the crucial work it does
The Reason to Remain Vigilant in All Aspects of Safeguarding
1. A 64-year-old man has been sentenced to 21 years in prison after sexually abusing two young boys.
Michael Smith, of The High Street, Dereham was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court after being convicted of 17 child sex offences at an earlier hearing.
The offences took place between 2014 and 2016, when the young boys, both aged in their early teens, were at a school for complex needs in Norfolk. Some of the offences continued into 2018 against one of the boys after he had left the school.
Smith was handed a 28-year sentence, made up of 21 years in prison and a further seven years on licence.
He was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) indefinitely and must also sign on the sex offenders register indefinitely.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Natalie Riseborough from the Safeguarding and Investigations Team, said: "I welcome yesterday’s sentence as it reflects the seriousness of Smith’s crimes.
"We see this pattern all too often, when abusers befriend the victims and their families in order to facilitate the abuse and avoid suspicion. The strength these boys have shown in acknowledging Smith’s actions as wrong, and speaking out about it, is immeasurable.
"Smith had been a figure of authority in their lives and was in a position of trust. He used this to commit terrible crimes that are likely to live with these victims forever.
"Whilst nothing will take their pain away, we hope that yesterday’s sentence provides some comfort to the victims and their families. Their courage has not only broken the cycle of abuse these boys faced but it has also prevented others becoming victims.
"We remain committed to bringing all sex offenders to justice in order to prevent future offending and will listen to anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse, whether this is ongoing or non-recent.”
Norfolk’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), The Harbour Centre, operates a 24-hour service for victims of sexual abuse and can be contacted on 0845 456 4810, or
2. A former police officer from Kent has been sentenced after he admitted viewing child abuse material online .Thomas Blant, 38, was arrested in January 2020 after National Crime Agency (NCA )investigators identified that a website hosting child sexual abuse material had been accessed via TOR (The Onion Router) from his house in Wye, Ashford.
Following a search of his address officers seized a number of digital devices, including his phone and laptop, which were forensically analysed.
TOR, the tool which offers anonymous online browsing and access to the dark web, had been downloaded on the laptop, as well as a computer cleaning app, which can be used to remove traces of illegal activity.
17 indecent images of children (IIOC), made up of categories A and C, were recovered from Blant’s laptop, despite his attempts to delete them.
A further four indecent images of children were also recovered from one of Blant’s old mobile phones.
He was released on bail and further arrested in February 2020 following analysis of his devices.
Blant was working as a constable for Kent Police at the time of his offending. He was suspended from duty upon his initial arrest and has since been dismissed from the force.
He was handed a 12 month jail term suspended for two years, a five year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years.
Martin Ludlow from the National Crime Agency said: “Blant’s offending is an outrageous misuse of trust.
“His role as a police officer was to protect the public. Instead, he sought out images of child abuse for his own sexual gratification. Offenders who view such material online only encourage those willing to sexually abuse children in the real world.
“Combatting this threat remains one of the highest priorities for the NCA. We are committed to targeting the most dangerous offenders and those who, like Blant, go to great lengths to hide their activity, believing they can operate with impunity online.
“As this investigation shows, there is nowhere to hide. We will use all of the tools at our disposal to identify those who pose a sexual threat to children and ensure they are brought to justice.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Jon Armory, Kent Police’s Head of Professional Standards, said: "It is abhorrent that Blant has committed these offences, particularly while working as a police officer.
"His actions helped fuel the demand for children to be exploited which is a complete betrayal of his duty to protect the vulnerable.
"Blant was suspended from our force as soon as the allegations were first received and we fully supported our colleagues in the National Crime Agency with their criminal investigation. As soon as he admitted the offences in court, we progressed with special case proceedings which led to his dismissal on 17 August.
"The vast majority of our officers and staff do an outstanding job serving the public in line with the highest standards of professionalism and conduct, and we expect no less from them. Those who fall short will face scrutiny."
A company has been convicted of corporate manslaughter after a vulnerable elderly woman suffered burns while being bathed. Aster Healthcare Ltd, the company which owns and operates the care home, pleaded guilty to corporate manslaughter and was fined £1.04 million.
The care home manager, Elizabeth West, admitted failing to discharge a duty to take reasonable care for health and safety and was sentenced to 9 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
Carer Noel Maida admitted failing to discharge a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of Mrs Norris and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months.
Specialist Prosecutor Eran Cutliffe, of the CPS, said:
“Our thoughts are with the family and I hope that they can take some comfort from the guilty pleas, sentences imposed, and the fact that those responsible for her tragic death have been held accountable for their gross negligence and failures.
“The prosecution was able to present a compelling case having identified systemic failings on the part of the senior management of Aster Health Care Ltd in relation to their approach to health and safety and staff training.
“The company chose to ignore repeated problems and warnings with their hot water system with the consequence being that Mrs N suffered extensive burns whilst being bathed.
“It was this gross breach in their duty of care that caused the untimely and avoidable death of Mrs N
4. A man who sexually assaulted young children and was actively seeking opportunities to offend again has been jailed for 12 and-a-half years after a National Crime Agency investigation.
Keats Harvey, a 24-year-old American national, groomed and sexually assaulted four children, the youngest of whom was a toddler.He was arrested by NCA officers at his home in West Wittering, Chichester, in May 2020 and later charged with 14 child sexual abuse offences.
Harvey had a catalogue of almost 9,000 indecent images of children and 630 prohibited images on his electronic devices, which he had collated between 2015-2020. Of those were 860 category A images (the most severe), 1,290 category B and 6,984 category C.
The NCA uncovered a large number of chat logs and emails in which he had sent and received these images from other likeminded individuals, as well as admitting to having molested three young children.
Investigators subsequently identified four children who had been abused by Harvey, all of whom were under ten-years-old and have since been safeguarded.
He met his victims through other adults he knew and assaulted one of the children whilst at a party.
Harvey made multiple further attempts to meet and abuse children by befriending vulnerable adults with kids and applying for jobs at places where we knew he would have access to children, including hospitals and nurseries.
Through their investigation into Harvey, NCA officers identified another American national they suspected had sexually abused an eleven-year-old boy.
Intelligence was shared with US authorities based in Seattle and the man, a teacher, was arrested and the child safeguarded.
Harvey was found guilty in July of six counts of possessing indecent images of children (categories A-C), two counts of possessing prohibited images, two counts of taking and one of distributing an indecent photo of a child, two counts of assaulting a child under 13 by touching, and meeting a girl under 16 following grooming.
On the 15 October 2021 at Hove Crown Court, he was sentenced 12 years and six months in prison.
Peter Stevens, T/Regional Head of Investigations at the NCA, said: “Keats Harvey was conducting very serious offending, not just online but by physically abusing young children.
“On top of this, he was actively trying to befriend adults who had children and had researched jobs on the internet at hospitals and nurseries, all with the aim of gaining access to children.
“In my view he is an offender whose behaviour was escalating in terms of the severity of the offending he was trying to commit. The sentence handed down today is a reflection of that and I’m pleased he is behind bars where he no longer poses a risk to children.
“Prosecuting individuals like Harvey who are a sexual threat to children is a priority for the NCA. My team worked tirelessly on this case throughout the pandemic, in very difficult circumstances, as they had to review huge quantities of particularly disturbing material to build the case against him and ensure he would face justice.
“We also received support from Sussex and Hampshire Police in identifying other linked offenders and safeguarding victims. This partnership working is vital to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and I am grateful for the support we received.”
Anthony Hulme, of London Road in Nantwich, physically and sexually assaulted two men and two women over a number of years.
It occurred at his home address in Winsford as well as other places in Cheshire and while on holiday in the United Kingdom between 1981 and 1988.
Two of the victims were aged two and three when he sexually assaulted them while babysitting at their home in Cheshire.
Between 1981 and 1988 he sexually assaulted, raped and physically abused another victim from the age of eight until they were in their late teens.
The fourth victim was abused by Hulme when he was nine years old and it continued for a number of years.
Hulme was found guilty of two counts of gross indecency with a girl under 14 years of age and six counts of gross indecency with a boy under the age of 14.
He was also convicted of committing buggery with a boy under the age of 16, two counts of indecent assault on a boy under the age of 16 and two counts of indecent assault on a boy under the age of 14.
The trial took place over eight days at Chester Crown Court and he was sentenced on Friday 3 September.
Hulme will also serve two further years on prison licence.
Detective Sergeant Paul Nolan, from the Major Investigation Team, said:
“Hulme subjected each of his victims to horrific abuse both physically and sexually over a long period of time when they were babies or young children.
“It has taken great courage for them to disclose what happened and to go through the process to ensure justice was served.
“The conviction and sentence is testament to their bravery in coming forward and providing such difficult, upsetting and harrowing evidence. I hope it now provides them with a form of closure and although they will never forget what happened, they can begin a new chapter in their lives.”
Bradford Crown Court heard that Speight, head of a school in Yorkshire, began grooming the boy by inviting him over to his flat during lockdown.
He was jailed for 12 years, with an extended licence of eight years.
Passing sentence, Judge Richard Mansell QC said 44-year-old Speight had used his position of trust to "cynically manipulate" the boy and his family.
"Your public persona hid a very dark secret, that you are a highly dangerous, predatory, manipulative paedophile," the judge said.
Judge Mansell said the offending was at the highest category of harm and that his victim would have to "live with the mental scars of what you did to him for the rest of his life".
Prosecutor Tom Storey said Speight became friends with the boy's family and offered tutoring.
He would give the boy alcohol and take him out and buy him expensive presents, including clothes and a laptop.
Mr Storey said that after one shopping trip in April the boy took an overdose and when recovering in hospital told one of his friends about the abuse. The friend told his parents who contacted the police.
When initially interviewed by the police Speight denied the allegations, but officers searched his home and discovered mobiles phones and a tablet hidden behind a wall.
The court was told the devices contained footage of Speight having sex with the teenager filmed with a hidden camera.
There was also a video of young boys changing at a swimming pool.
In an impact statement, the boy's mother said Speight had "destroyed my happy family life".
"He used my friendship and trust and twisted it, "she said.
"He stole my son's innocence and we can never get it back."
Source: BBC News
Jonathan Diba-Musangu, 23, was convicted of 12 sexual offences against six victims he targeted between 2012 and 2017.
The former Rochdale goalkeeper’s youngest victim was just seven years old when he raped her in 2012.
The girl told her sister and her mother and when her mother confided in a friend, she learned of similar reports by two other girls.
On a separate occasion in a church hall event, Diba-Musangu suggested the children dance in pairs. He then took one of the girls to the bathroom and sexually abused her. He also sexually abused another girl in the bathroom later that day.
In 2015 Diba-Musangu began talking to a 15-year-old girl on Snapchat and asked her to send explicit images and videos. On separate occasions, he assaulted and raped her.
In 2016, he raped a 12-year-old at a church summer camp. He then took photos of her and threatened to show them to others if she told anyone what he had done.
In 2017, Diba-Musangu raped a 12-year-old after she challenged him over lies he had been telling about them being in a relationship.
He was arrested in 2018 after many of the victims began confiding in each other and realised they were suffering similar abuse.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is determined to drive up the number of rape cases reaching court across the country. Earlier this year, along with the National Police Chiefs’ Council, we published the Joint National Action Plan which sets out a wide-ranging plan for greater collaboration to improve the response to RASSO cases.
The CPS is one year in to a five-year strategy to bring about a step change in how it works with all parts of the criminal justice system to reverse the sharp drop in prosecutions.
The CPS has updated its RASSO legal guidance to reflect rape myths and stereotypes in an age of changing sexual behaviours and the latest insights into the impact of trauma.
Source: Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
This campaign will look at seasonal job scams in the months leading up to Christmas, and how to avoid.
Earlier in the year, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) launched a campaign to raise awareness of job scams and employment fraud among job seekers.
With seasonal job scams predicted to increase in the lead up to Christmas, the next phase of the campaign will focus on:
- seasonal job scams in the months leading up to Christmas
- scams relating to money and fraudulent DBS checks
- how scammers orchestrate scams, and signs to be aware of
In 2020, seasonal job scams increased by 88% compared to 2019. With the combination of furlough ending, and the impact of the pandemic leading to people looking for, or changing work, the number of seasonal job scams is likely to rise again in 2021.
Executive Director of Barring and Safeguarding at DBS, Dr Suzanne Smith, said:
“Job scams happen all year round, but it is especially important to be alert to these scams during the festive period. The increase in seasonal and temporary jobs during this time is a perfect opportunity for scammers to try and take advantage of unsuspecting people. The impact of being victim to job scams can be utterly devastating and can ruin what should be a time of celebration and happiness.”
3. Action Fraud is warning the public to protect their loved ones as criminals cheat older and vulnerable victims out of cash and high value items through courier fraud.
Data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals that £10,325,133 has been lost by victims to courier fraud since the start of this year – an increase of almost two thirds (63 per cent) compared to the same period last year.
What is courier fraud?
Courier fraud is when victims receive a phone call from a criminal who is pretending to be a police officer or bank official. Typically, victims are told to withdraw a sum of money and someone is sent to their home address to collect it.
Criminals may also convince the victim to transfer money to a ‘secure’ bank account, hand over their bank cards or give the criminals high value items, such as jewellery, watches and gold (coins or bullion).
Since the start of this year, Action Fraud has received 2,060 reports of courier fraud, with an average loss per victim of just over £5,000.
Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of victims were aged 70 to 89 years old, and over three quarters (84 per cent) of victims were aged 60 to 99 years old.
One common tactic used is where victims are contacted by a suspect who attempts to persuade them to purchase gold as part of a ‘police investigation’ that is later collected by a courier on behalf of the criminals.
In some cases, the suspects have invited themselves into the victim’s home and collected other valuables, saying that the victim’s possessions are no longer safe and they, ‘as the police’, can safeguard them.
Another common tactic used is called “open phone” where the victim is persuaded to stay on the phone to the criminal whilst they go to withdraw money or go to a jewellers. This stops the victim interacting with anyone else, or having the chance to think about what is really happening.
How to protect yourself and your loved ones:
- Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone, or offer to pick up your bank card by courier. Hang up immediately if you receive a call like this.
- If you need to contact your bank to check the call was legitimate, wait five minutes as fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. Alternatively, use a different line altogether to contact your bank and ensure you call them back on a number listed on the bank’s website, or on the back of your debit or credit card.
- Your debit or credit card is yours: don’t let a stranger take it from you. You should only ever have to hand it over at your bank. If it’s cancelled or expired, you should destroy it yourself.
Tell-tale signs of attempted courier fraud:
- Someone claiming to be from your bank or local police force calls you to tell you about fraudulent activity, but is asking you for personal information, or even your PIN, to verify who you are.
- They are suggesting that you call them back, so you can be sure they are genuine, but when you try to return the call, there’s no dial tone.
- They say they are trying to offer you peace of mind by having somebody pick up the card for you, to save you the trouble of having to go to your bank or local police station.
Action Fraud also advises that the public follow the advice of theTake Five to Stop Fraud campaign to
keep themselves safe from fraud.
- Stop: taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
- Challenge: could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- Protect: if you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at action fraud.police.co.ukor by calling 0300 123 2040.
If you think someone is trying to trick you into handing over money or personal details…
…Stop, hang up and call 159 to speak directly to your bank.
Call 159 if:
- Someone contacts you saying they’re from your bank – even if they are not suspicious
- You receive a call asking you to transfer money or make a payment – even if it seems genuine
- You receive a call about a financial matter and it seems suspicious
Remember, 159 will never call you. But you can rely on 159 to get you through to your bank.
At present participating banks are:
- Lloyds (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland)
- NatWest (including Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank)
- Starling Bank
Telephone companies with 159 available are:
- BT, including EE and Plusnet
- O2, including giffgaff
- Virgin Media
159 is a pilot scheme – the idea is to collect evidence to show that calling 159 helps fight fraud. Then we want to make 159 a universal number – available on all phones and for all banks.
The scammers claim that the person owes money, often using the name ‘John Hutchinson’ as well as others. They follow up the email with a telephone call appearing to come from an official phone line. They demand immediate payment to avoid having goods seized. These emails are not genuine.
Atypical documentis attached to an email. This document and its contents are not genuine.
If you’re unsure whether communication from a bailiff is genuine, you can check the details below.
A County Court bailiff:
- will only pursue a debt where a County Court Judgment has been registered (you can go onto your credit report to check whether it is genuine)
- will not telephone or send emails asking for money or make multiple calls in a short space of time
- will not ask you to transfer money into a bank account
- will not tell you to pay and say you can claim it back at a later date
- will not provide you with prefilled court forms to send in to defend a claim.
The bailiff will hand deliver any documents and will not take money there and then.
If you want to make a payment, they will give you the County Court number to call and you can pay by debit card.
If you do not think you owe anything, the bailiff will tell you to call the County Court. When calling the court, useFind a Court or Tribunal to find the correct court number.
If you’re suspicious about a call or text contact us.
If you’ve paid money, report the scam to Action Fraud.
Following the shocking shooting in Plymouth, where five people were killed on 12 August, no one will be given a firearms licence unless the police have reviewed information from a registered doctor setting out whether or not the applicant has any relevant medical history – including mental health, neurological conditions or substance abuse.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
“The UK has some of the toughest firearms laws in world, but we must never become complacent about these high standards.
This new guidance prioritises public safety above all else and we have taken considerable care to ensure it is comprehensive and enforceable, having worked closely with the medical, policing and shooting sectors.
We are delivering on our promise to the British people to ensure everyone feels safe in their communities.
From 1 November, individuals will be required to provide a medical pro forma alongside their application, filled out and signed by a registered doctor. The doctor providing the medical information must be registered with the General Medical Council and have a licence to practise.”
Today’s guidance was developed following extensive cooperation with the British Medical Association (BMA), as well as policing partners and shooting representatives, and incorporates lessons learned from previous shooting incidents. The statutory guidance also sets out other areas the police should review before granting a licence – including examining an applicant’s social media, financial history, interviewing associates, or checking with domestic violence or public protection units. The importance of this is stressed in cases where the police consider that more evidence is needed before authorising a licence.
Background checks which can be conducted by the police are already extensive, spanning everything from criminal convictions and previous run-ins with the law, to evidence of domestic turmoil, unmanaged debt or even dishonesty.
Existing laws also require a home visit by the police for first-time applicants, to ensure they have utmost confidence in an individual’s suitability to own a gun with no risk to public. Two credible referees for a firearm and one for a shotgun must be provided before a licence can be issued.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for firearms licensing, Chief Constable Debbie Tedds, said:
“We welcome the new statutory guidance for firearms licensing from the Home Office.
Police forces are responsible for issuing firearms certificates to individuals and will only do so after their application has been assessed by a dedicated team of experts, a robust process of background checks is completed and the individual meets criteria set out in the Home Office’s national legislation.
The need for medical records to be viewed by officers carrying out the licensing check is something policing has been encouraging for many years and have been utilising as part of the Home Office scheme. The consultation process has been thorough and we welcome this addition to the guidance.
Policing take this matter incredibly seriously and any advancement on the already extensive checks will help to ensure that only those who are safe to carry a firearms licence will receive one.”
2. Suffolk Constabulary has joined forces with partner agencies to fund emergency 'Go Bags' to help support victims of Modern Slavery (MS) in the county.
Anyone of any race or background could be a victim of MS. Offenders target people who are vulnerable and isolated, including those who may not speak English or do not have a family or friend support network.
Jointly funded by the constabulary and Suffolk's Community Safety Partnerships, and supported by retailers Argos and Morrisons, the Go Bags are designed to provide essential items for victims of MS and human trafficking, who often have nothing. Contents include items such as a wash bag with toiletries, for men and women, a basic mobile phone including a £10 top up, a food voucher and a panic alarm.
Protecting the vulnerable and putting victims first is a priority for the constabulary. Our aim is to provide a positive impression on victims of Modern Slavery at what can be a very traumatic time for them. Alongside our partner agencies we aim to provide victims with the enhanced level of support they need and deserve. We hope the bags will help victims feel reassured that there are strong support mechanisms in place in Suffolk to safeguard them.
Cllr Andrew Reid, Chair, Safer Stronger Communities Board (SSCB) said: "It is recognised that most victims of Modern Slavery either flee their circumstances or are found in a distressed state with few or no belongings. The Modern Slavery 'Go Bag' is designed as an emergency provision to provide a victim of MS with a few basic essentials to assist them for the first 24/48 hours until they are safeguarded and partner agencies can assist.
"This is a great initiative by Suffolk Police MS and Vulnerable Communities Team and I am delighted that all three Community Safety Partnerships have allocated part of their Suffolk Public Sector Leaders funding to support this project. Modern Slavery is a strategic priority for the CSPs and through partnership working we can help to support victims of Modern Slavery."
Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: "Modern Slavery is a particularly abhorrent crime that commoditises people's lives.
"Many victims find it very difficult to escape from this criminality which is why I wholeheartedly support the "Go Bags" initiative. Anything that helps victims who suffer in such terrible circumstance is to be applauded.
"Very well done and thanks to all involved in setting up this excellent initiative especially I wish the scheme every success as I am sure it will make a very positive difference for the victims."