Safeguarding News December 2023  

Dear Colleague,

Happy New Year to all our newsletter readers from the entire team here at SAFEcic. We wish you all a successful, prosperous and safe 2024.

Traditionally a new year means new directions, wiping the slate clean and taking a fresh perspective on things, however we do need to take one last glance over our shoulders at 2023, with a spotlight on a handful of key newsworthy safeguarding items that hit the headlines during the month of December.

*** New Service
SAFEcic is pleased to announce the launch of a brand new service expanding its portfolio of safeguarding products and services. Safeguarding Supervision is a best practice session aimed at educators and designed to enhance outcomes for children. Each 1.5 hour supervision session can be delivered online or face to face.

Training Schedule
Our latest training schedule is listed below and feel free to share this email with your colleagues and they too can join our newsletter database.

To sign up simply click here.

Services Update
SAFEcic is also accepting many more bookings for its Rapid Review Service, its face to face safeguarding training and audit services. There is also a packed calendar of blended learning events available to book for your organisation. The courses are a very cost effective way of training your staff and volunteers. 



SAFEcic Blended Learning Training Calendar 

Leading on Child and Adult Safeguarding

Safeguarding Training, Leading on Child and Adult. Online course plus Zoom

Thu 29 February 2024

10:30 - 12:00 GMT

Safeguarding Training, Leading on Child and Adult. Online course plus Zoom

Tue 12 March 2024

10:30 - 12:00 GMT

Safeguarding Training, Leading on Child and Adult. Online course plus Zoom

Tue 16 April 2024

10:30 - 12:00 GMT

Safeguarding Training, Leading on Child and Adult. Online course plus Zoom

Wed 8 May 2024

10:30 - 12:00 GMT

Safeguarding Training, Leading on Child and Adult. Online course plus Zoom

Tue 11 June 2024

10:30 - 12:00 GMT

Safeguarding Training, Leading on Child and Adult. Online course plus Zoom

Tue 9 July 2024

10:30 - 12:00 GMT

Standard Child and Adult Safeguarding

Safeguarding Training, Standard Child and Adult. Online Course plus Zoom

Wed 27 March 2024

10:30 - 12:00 GMT

Safeguarding Training, Standard Child and Adult. Online Course plus Zoom

Thu 16 May 2024

10:30 - 12:00 GMT

Safeguarding Training, Standard Child and Adult. Online Course plus Zoom

Tue 2 July 2024

10:30 - 12:00 GMT

Safeguarding: Trustees’ legal responsibilities

Safeguarding: Trustees' legal responsibilities. Online Course plus Zoom

Thu 14 March 2024

10:00 - 11:30 GMT

Safeguarding: Trustees' legal responsibilities. Online Course plus Zoom

Tue 21 May 2024

10:00 - 11:30 GMT

Safeguarding: Trustees' legal responsibilities. Online Course plus Zoom

Wed 10 July 2024

10:00 - 11:30 GMT

Safer Recruitment

Safer Recruitment Training. Online course plus 2 Hr Live Online training

Thu 14 March 2024

10:00 - 12:00 GMT

Safer Recruitment Training. Online course plus 2 Hr Live Online training

Thu 25 April 2024

10:00 - 12:00 GMT

Safer Recruitment Training. Online course plus 2 Hr Live Online training

Tue 4 June 2024

10:00 - 12:00 GMT

Managing and Leading on International Safeguarding

Managing and Leading on International Safeguarding Training. Online course plus Zoom

Wed 28 February 2024

10:00 - 11:30 GMT

Managing and Leading on International Safeguarding Training. Online course plus Zoom

Tue 23 April 2024

10:00 - 11:30 GMT


SAFE Free Resource Hubs

SAFEcic's free hub resources by setting are available through the main menu. Alternately you can bookmark the links below:

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The updated Working Together to Safeguard Children  has been published as a response to the consultation commenced in June 2023 and has a Summary of changes.

Good Practice Guidance


Improving practice with children, young people and families updated December 15, 2023, which is advice for local areas and safeguarding multi-agency partners to embed working together to safeguard children and the children's social care national framework in practice.

Inquiry and Review Announcements and Reports

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1. National review into child sexual abuse within the family environment: terms of reference
The aim of this Review is to explore the specific challenges which feature in the identification, assessment, and response to child sexual abuse within the family environment. The Review will address how multi-agency local and national safeguarding practice can improve to reflect better the evidence on how to protect and respond to children experiencing this specific type of harm. It is hoped the Review will be published Spring/summer of 2024.

2. Illegal pornography, abuse, and exploitation to be investigated by new reviewer
The porn industry will be scrutinised by a dedicated reviewer who has been appointed to assess the Terms of Reference which include the damage it causes individuals and society. Baroness Bertin will look at abuse, exploitation and trafficking in the pornography industry, pornography’s impact on viewers, and ways to bolster law enforcement to help tackle illegal pornographic content will also be examined in the Pornography Review

The review will build on the government’s work to take the long-term decisions for a better future for our children and grandchildren through the Online Safety Act, by stopping children from accessing pornography online by requiring services to establish the age of their users, including through age verification and age estimation tools. It will review how viewing pornography impacts users of all ages, including emerging challenges from AI generated pornography. It will also review both the current rules placed upon the pornography industry and other services that host pornographic content, and whether law enforcers have the tools they need to identify and tackle illegal pornographic content. The review will examine how we can help the police identify exploitation and abuse in the industry, as well as identifying what barriers there are to enforcing the law and punishing those committing offences.

In particular, the review has been tasked to consider the links between the pornography industry and the prevalence of human trafficking and exploitation and users’ attitudes towards women and girls. It will then recommend what can be done to tackle this, including improving reporting and identification. The review will then recommend to government what more could be done to address these challenges and provide support and guidance to those who need it on the potentially harmful impacts of pornography.

The review will also draw on expertise from law enforcement, the criminal justice system, external experts and the pornography industry to look at the existing regulation and whether the existing criminal offences are adequately enforced online as they are offline.

3. Government responds to the Child Safeguarding Review Panel’s safeguarding disabled children review

Source: Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel published on this website Thursday 21 December

The panel’s national review into the harm and abuse perpetrated against over 100 children, with complex health needs and disabilities, in residential settings in Doncaster, highlighted the need for the voices of children to be heard. It was clear about the changes that are required in provision, commissioning, and regulation to meet their needs.

The Secretary of State for Education and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care have now published a comprehensive response to the recommendations. It is important that these departments continue to work together, with children and families, local authorities, integrated care boards, regulators, and providers of residential care to secure the changes that are essential to keep children safe.

Research Reports, Consultations and Studies

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Draft Gender Questioning Children Non-statutory guidance for schools and colleges in England: Consultation open

In response to the complex phenomenon of the increasing number of children questioning their gender, the government has taken the time to carefully and robustly address the challenges and issues involved.

The guidance will assist teachers in ensuring that they are acting in the best interests of children.

The guidance has been developed with the expert clinical view and interim conclusions from the Cass Review in mind. That review set out that social transition is not a neutral act, and that better information is needed about the outcomes for children who undertake degrees of social transition. It also set out that it could have significant psychological effects on a young person.

In recognition of this, proper use of this guidance means social transition, in practice, should be extremely rare when the appropriate safeguards are put in place and the child’s best interest taken into account.

Importantly, the guidance places beyond doubt the fundamental principle that parents should be involved in decisions about their children’s lives, and that significant decisions affecting a child’s future should not be taken without parents being involved.

In regard to single-sex spaces and sports, the government sets out the principle that biological sex is fundamentally important when it comes to protecting safety and ensuring fairness in competitive sports.

The consultation is seeking views on the content of the guidance and whether it will help to support schools and colleges, teachers and leaders to make considered and lawful decisions in relation to children who are questioning their gender and the wider school and college community.

Regulatory Bodies

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General Medical Council (GMC)

Patient safety boost as medical associates to be regulated

Physician Associates (PAs) and Anaesthesia Associates (AAs) will soon be regulated by the General Medical Council (GMC), improving patient safety and supporting plans to expand medical associate roles in the NHS to relieve pressure on doctors and GPs.

The government has laid legislation to allow the GMC to begin the process of regulating medical associates, who are medically trained healthcare professionals who work alongside doctors to care for patients.

The GMC will set standards of practice, education and training, and operate fitness to practice procedures, ensuring that PAs and AAs have the same levels of regulatory oversight and accountability as doctors and other regulated healthcare professionals. The regulations will come into force at the end of 2024.

Regulation and growth of these roles will support plans to reduce pressure on frontline services and improve access for patients.

There are currently around 1,500 PAs working in hospitals and 1,700 in primary care settings. There are approximately 320 AAs. The Long-Term Workforce Plan sets out plans to increase the PA workforce to 10,000 by 2036 to 2037 and the AA workforce to 2,000 over the same period.

PAs work alongside doctors providing medical care as an integral part of the multi-disciplinary team. They can work autonomously, but always under the supervision of a fully trained and experienced doctor.

Staff working in the role are also trained to do clinical duties such as taking medical histories, carrying out physical examinations, and developing and delivering treatment and management plans.

Under the supervision of a medically qualified anaesthetist, AAs have responsibilities such as reviewing patients before surgery, initiating and managing medications, administering fluid and blood therapy during surgery, and ensuring there is a plan for patients following their operation.

Regulation will give the GMC responsibility and oversight of doctors, PAs and AAs, allowing it to take a holistic approach to the education, training and standards of the roles. This will enable a more coordinated approach to regulation and, by making it easier for employers, patients and the public to understand the relationship between these roles and doctors, help to embed them in the workforce.

It is important that the public are able to clearly distinguish between the professions regulated by the GMC. The GMC will make it as easy as possible for anyone to identify individual registrants and to tell if they are a doctor, PA or AA. As part of this, the GMC is actively considering the format for the reference numbers that AAs and PAs will have when they join the register.

Online Safety

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IWF ‘outraged’ at Meta decision to prioritise privacy of paedophiles over children’s safety

The roll out of end-to-end encryption will allow illegal and harmful content to spread undetected on Meta's platforms.

Meta has announced it is beginning to roll out end-to-end encryption on its platforms, beginning with Facebook Messenger. End-to-end encryption will mean Meta’s current apparatus for detecting known child sexual abuse imagery will be rendered useless, meaning the company will be unable to spot criminal material being spread through its channels.

For more information read the IWF Journalist's Briefing on end-to-end encryption.

The Finnish child protection agency Suojellaan Lapsia (Protect Children) have published a report warning encrypted services and messaging apps are being used to contact children and view child sexual abuse material.

According to the report, perpetrators who view child sexual abuse imagery are likely to seek direct contact with a child afterwards.

The report says 37% of respondents to their survey said that they have sought contact with a child, most of them using platforms on the open web to do so. 25% of respondents say that they have sought contact with a child via an encrypted messaging app. Encrypted platforms are quickly becoming a safe haven for individuals who perpetrate crimes of sexual violence against children online

Online Abuse

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Jail for man who posed as model agency scout to blackmail girls as young as nine into sending abuse images

A man from London manipulated and blackmailed dozens of young girls into sending indecent photos and videos of themselves by pretending to be a model agency scout. National Crime Agency officers identified Ishmael Duncan, 24, as the person behind Snapchat accounts which were used to coerce and threaten children into sending explicit images. Duncan was convicted of offences against 28 female victims, some as young as nine, from the UK, US, Canada and Australia. However, investigators believe he contacted over 10,000 children online from these accounts.

The NCA was able to locate victims and gather evidence because of material recovered by Snapchat that was not end-to-end encrypted. US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) initially shared details with the NCA of a report made to Florida Police by the family of two sisters, who said they were threatened after sending explicit images to one of the accounts. Analysis of internet data relating to the fake Snapchat profiles showed that the accounts linked to multiple locations, but the NCA was able to establish that Duncan was behind all of them.

He was arrested in July 2021 at his home in Lambeth, where officers seized a number of devices. Material recovered from these and cloud storage included chat logs from the various Snapchat accounts Duncan used and indecent images he had extorted from children.

He would begin by approaching potential victims to ask if they were interested in becoming a model for well-known fashion brands. Those that responded would be asked for their age and personal details before he requested clothed images or videos. He then took them through a lengthy interview process to build their trust, and sent them legitimate looking contracts which featured the impersonated brand’s logo.

He would request topless photos on the pretext of assessing the victims’ body shape, and to use as a base for editing in clothes to be modelled. Girls who challenged this were told the original photos would be deleted after editing, with some threatened with being ‘blacklisted’ from modelling if they didn’t comply. Duncan contacted victims from multiple accounts and adopted different personas within the model agency to give a sense of authenticity, including ‘Callum’ (the photographer) and ‘Mark’ (the general manager of the preteen models’ division).

He then created a separate account to contact the same victims, sometimes many months later, threatening to expose and share their photos unless they complied with his demands for more images. Part of this process was to send the following text: “This is an automated message. We have your nudes, and unless you reply to this message saying “I understand", they will be sent out to expose accounts on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. If you reply with anything else other than “I understand”, or if you block or unfriend this account, your nudes will be sent out. This is your first and only warning.”

Separate to his modelling approach, he targeted other potential victims claiming to be a child of a similar age, requesting sexual images and videos. He blackmailed a 14-year-old girl who sent him images, and also offered her $1,000 to engage in a sexual act with her brother. In total, officers recovered 19,120 indecent images of children in categories A-C (A being the most severe) from his devices and cloud storage.

Duncan was charged with 53 counts including causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity (penetrative and non-penetrative), blackmail, sexual communication with a child, indecent and prohibited images of children (making and possession) and possession of extreme pornographic images. He appeared at Inner London Crown Court on 21 August this year, where he admitted to 42 of the counts, then pleaded guilty to a further eight counts on 14 September. Two counts of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of blackmail will lie on file.

Duncan was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment at the same court on 7 December. He was also given a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order, placed on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely and handed a forfeiture order in relation to three phones and a laptop.

After sentencing Duncan, Her Honour Judge Newbery said that she was “in awe of the undertaking” of the NCA’s investigation into his criminality.

The NCA’s CEOP Education programme supports parents, carers, children and the professionals to ensure young people have safe and positive experiences online.

If someone is threatening a child online, including demanding nude images or money, it’s safest to not respond, and to block and report them to the site and the Police. Under 18 year olds worried about online sexual abuse, including online blackmail, can also report directly to the NCA’s CEOP Safety Centre


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National Crime Agency calls on parents to help young people recognise the signs of money muling

The National Crime Agency is asking parents and carers to help young people avoid being persuaded or manipulated into laundering criminal cash.

The NCA’s call follows three weeks of coordinated law enforcement action against money mules – a term given to individuals enlisted by criminals to move the proceeds of crime through their bank accounts in return for a cut of the sum.

Around 6 in 10 money mules are under the age of 30, with most of these recruited between the ages of 17 and 24 while attending sixth form, college or university. At this age, young people may be struggling financially, looking to become financially independent or lack financial experience, which criminals can use to exploit them. This makes the most effective time to raise children's awareness of the threat when they are aged 11-16.

Money mules are often targeted through seemingly legitimate job offers announced via online forums, emails, social media or pop-up ads with the promise of quick and easy earnings. Once they have established contact, recruiters will often try to develop a relationship or rapport with the young person and groom or coerce them into providing the service.

A young person may not always be aware of the consequences of being a money mule, which can be serious. Money mules frequently end up with a criminal record and can face prison, a fine or community service for their role. Those involved endanger themselves and those around them by communicating with dangerous criminals, and risk becoming complicit in serious and organised crime.

What parents and carers can do

The ask to parents and carers is simple: check in with those you have responsibility for, and establish regular conversations about staying safe online.

Help them to be cautious and critical of unsolicited offers that sound too good to be true; and explain the consequences of involvement in financial crime. Reassure them that they will be supported if they speak up and seek help.

The warning signs aren’t always obvious. If you are concerned that your child is a money mule, ask your child about new possessions, such as expensive goods, that they cannot account for, and look out for new bank accounts containing money they can’t adequately explain the origin of.

If you are concerned your child is being criminally exploited, report money muling to local police on 101. Call 999 in an emergency, for example where there is a threat to life.

Worthy of Note

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Children as young as 11 sexually harassed on public transport

Children as young as 11 say they are "tired" of being sexually harassed on buses and trains. One 16-year-old girl told said she was "disgusted" after being catcalled and receiving sexual comments while on public transport.

Harrogate Youth Council is campaigning for more children to speak up about incidents happening in North Yorkshire. British Transport Police has said it was "unacceptable" and was working hard to tackle the problem

Reasons to Remain Vigilant in All Aspects of Safeguarding


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Sex offender frequented children’s parties

A sex offender who breached a court order by going to children’s birthday parties has been jailed. Jason Coe, 48, was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) in July 2019, which included conditions not to have any contact or communication with girls under 16.

However, Coe attended multiple social gatherings in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, where he knew children would be present. Of the seven breaches, three were children’s birthday parties, the first in Peterborough on 14 March 2020.

Following this, he attended a barbeque on 10 July 2021, a birthday party on 31 January this year, another gathering at the end of January or beginning of February, a third child’s party on 24 June and finally another barbeque on 21 July. All were events where he knew children would be present.

After the final event, an adult linked to the gatherings discovered Coe was a registered sex offender and contacted police. Coe, of Swan Street, Alcester, Warwickshire, admitted seven breaches of his SHPO. On 30 November 2023 at Cambridge Crown Court, was jailed for a year.

Anyone who is concerned someone may have been convicted of a sex offence, and could be posing a risk to someone, can apply for disclosure information through Sarah's Law.

And Finally

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1. Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) issues Christmas call for gas hob corrective action

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has asked the public this Christmas to check whether their gas hob requires corrective action.

Twelve UK gas hob manufacturers have committed to undertake a corrective action programme to make certain hobs safe, as a result of an investigation by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).

This followed a number of incidents, including an explosion at a caravan park in April 2023, where a person suffered serious burns. The investigation by OPSS identified that faulty elbow joints used to connect certain models to the gas supply could give rise to a serious risk of poisoning, burns or gas explosion and/or fire.

The companies involved are Apelson Appliances UK Ltd, Buy It Direct Ltd, Glen Dimplex Home Appliances, Kingfisher International Products Ltd, Lancaster Holdings Ltd, Maurice Lay Distributors Ltd, Midea UK Ltd, Product Care Trading Ltd, Samsung Electronics, Shop Direct Home Shopping Ltd, Stax Trade Centres Ltd and The Wright Buy Ltd.

The companies will visit every home containing affected hobs and make them safe. Information about the brands and models are available via the companies’ websites.

OPSS wants the public to enjoy their Christmas dinner in safety which is why they are issuing the call to check the model links and contact the manufacturer if necessary:

While all affected consumers should check the model links, owners and consumers in caravans, leisure homes and motorhomes should do this as a matter of urgency. If they are using an affected appliance with Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), they should disconnect it from the LPG cylinder immediately.

Owners and consumers in domestic premises should continue to be vigilant. If they smell gas or are concerned that their product poses a risk, they should contact the National Gas Emergency Helpline for their area (0800 111 999 in England, Wales and Scotland, and 0800 002 001 in Northern Ireland) or a Gas Safe registered installer.


2. Shopping online securely this festive season and in 2024

Shoppers lost over £10 million to cyber criminals during last year’s festive shopping period, with 25–34 year olds most likely to fall victim. To raise awareness, the National Cyber Security Centre has released guidance to help avoid scam websites, and purchase items safely