Safeguarding News May 2021
Welcome to the latest SAFEcic news roundup from May 2021.
Whilst we all await the government's decision as to the extent that lockdown retsrictions will be lifted on 21st June, one important notice for our customers is that after many years without increasing costs to our users, SAFEcic's training prices will be increasing from the 21st June in line with the new and extended range of services we are providing. To secure the biggest savings we recommend you make any safeguarding training credit purchases before that date, taking advantage of both the lower price point and the current COVID pandemic discounts.
For organisations needing to update training now, our new blended training courses are proving extremely popular, as well as our Open House option for those who just have one or two people to train. To continue to help by making our online training affordable we are also offering 15% discount on our online safeguarding courses which, if you are a SAFEcic member, you will also benefit from our members 10% discount. Reminder: SAFEcic provides a range of free sector specific resource sites providing information on the safeguarding requirements within your setting.
Legislation & Bills
The Online Safety Bill will help protect young people and clamp down on racist abuse online, while safeguarding freedom of expression.
New internet laws have been published to protect children online and tackle some of the worst abuses on social media, including racist hate crimes.
Ministers have added landmark new measures to the Bill to safeguard freedom of expression and democracy, ensuring necessary online protections do not lead to unnecessary censorship.
The draft Bill marks a milestone in the Government’s fight to make the internet safe. Despite the fact that we are now using the internet more than ever, over three quarters of UK adults are concerned about going online and fewer parents feel the benefits outweigh the risks of their children being online – falling from 65 per cent in 2015 to 55 per cent in 2019.
The draft Bill includes changes to put an end to harmful practices, while ushering in a new era of accountability and protections for democratic debate, including:
- New additions to strengthen people’s rights to express themselves freely online, while protecting journalism and democratic political debate in the UK.
- Further provisions to tackle prolific online scams such as romance fraud, which have seen people manipulated into sending money to fake identities on dating apps.
- Social media sites, websites, apps and other services hosting user-generated content or allowing people to talk to others online must remove and limit the spread of illegal and harmful content such as child sexual abuse, terrorist material and suicide content.
- Ofcom will be given the power to fine companies failing in a new duty of care up to £18 million or ten per cent of annual global turnover, whichever is higher, and have the power to block access to sites.
- A new criminal offence for senior managers has been included as a deferred power. This could be introduced at a later date if tech firms don’t step up their efforts to improve safety.
The Bill aims to create the most progressive, fair and accountable system in the world. This comes only weeks after a boycott of social media by sports professionals and governing bodies in protest at the racist abuse of footballers online, while at the same time concerns continue to be raised at social media platforms arbitrarily removing content and blocking users.
In line with the government’s response to the Online Harms White Paper, all companies in scope will have a duty of care towards their users so that what is unacceptable offline will also be unacceptable online.
They will need to consider the risks their sites may pose to the youngest and most vulnerable people and act to protect children from inappropriate content and harmful activity.
They will need to take robust action to tackle illegal abuse, including swift and effective action against hate crimes, harassment and threats directed at individuals and keep their promises to users about their standards.
The largest and most popular social media sites (Category 1 services) will need to act on content that is lawful but still harmful such as abuse that falls below the threshold of a criminal offence, encouragement of self-harm and mis/disinformation. Category 1 platforms will need to state explicitly in their terms and conditions how they will address these legal harms and Ofcom will hold them to account.
The draft Bill contains reserved powers for Ofcom to pursue criminal action against named senior managers whose companies do not comply with Ofcom’s requests for information. These will be introduced if tech companies fail to live up to their new responsibilities. A review will take place at least two years after the new regulatory regime is fully operational.
The final legislation, when introduced to Parliament, will contain provisions that require companies to report child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) content identified on their services. This will ensure companies provide law enforcement with the high-quality information they need to safeguard victims and investigate offenders.
Reports, Reviews, Resources, Research, and Inquiries
1. Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have described the devastating, lifelong impact that sexual abuse can have, and their hopes of raising awareness by sharing their experiences with the Truth Project
Part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the Truth Project is, drawing to a close in October 2021 so all of the accounts shared can be used to inform the findings and recommendations in the Inquiry’s Final Report, due to be published next year.
The Inquiry has published a further 80 accounts shared with the Truth Project, which provides an opportunity for survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience and put forward suggestions for change.
Victims and survivors told the Truth Project about the barriers they faced in coming forward, how they hope to help others by sharing their account, as well as the lifelong effects of the abuse they experienced.
Throughout his adult life, Barny has been profoundly affected by the abuse. He says, “Pain, guilt and shame burn within me”. He has abused alcohol in the past, and worked and exercised compulsively. He suffers with poor mental health, an eating disorder and self-harming.
Survivors described abuse, taking place in religious institutions, residential care homes and sports settings. They talk about those in authority turning a blind eye, having no one to tell what was happening or when they were able to report abuse, they were encouraged to stay silent, ignored or threatened.
The abuser threatened to kill Moira’s sister if Moira didn’t do what he wanted, or if she told anyone about the abuse.
As a child, Tommie decided he would never tell anyone about the abuse. “It felt as though I was screaming silently … I wanted to run away but I couldn’t”, he says.
Survivors spoke about the barriers they faced in coming forward, describing fears of stigma, not being believed, or simply not knowing how to describe what was happening to them.
Kiya says she felt “trapped in a shameful lie … I couldn’t tell anyone what had happened”.
Victims told the Truth Project about the detrimental impact the abuse has had across all aspects of their lives including education, relationships, their career, as well as physical and mental health. In many cases, survivors said that the effects lasted decades.
Zander struggles to contain his emotions as he describes the effect that the sexual abuse had on him, and still has. “Every day for the last 40-odd years, it has been on my mind”, he says.
These accounts also describe changes that survivors hope will help others, such as better understanding in society, greater education and more open conversations around the effects of child sexual abuse. Many said that by sharing their account, they hoped to help others who had been through a similar experience.
Victims and survivors who would like to share their experience can do so over the phone via video call or in writing. More information about how to share an experience is available on the Truth Project website.
Paul Stewart, former professional footballer for Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and England, said:
“Whilst the abuse I endured as a child was horrendous, the impact it had on my adult life has been far reaching, and the impact my destructive behaviour had on my loved ones has been catastrophic. Abuse never stops when it stops.
"It's important that victims and survivors can share their experience if they wish to do so, and the Truth Project provides a supportive opportunity to come forward, free from judgement.
"I hope the accounts shared can help to contribute to a more open conversation about the impact of abuse. It's vital that survivors' voices are heard."
2. The government has responded to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) custodial institutions report about placement in secure children's homes (SCHs).
The government is of the view that, in light of the research findings, the practice of placing children in mixed justice and welfare homes does not create or exacerbate systemic risk and is therefore not proposing to explore alternative models. It says that there is no conclusive evidence to show that there is an increased risk of sexual abuse to children as a result of being placed in a mixed SCH, and the government is of the view that there are robust safeguarding measures in place to protect children from harm. Ofsted judgements show that SCHs generally provide a higher quality of care than other youth justice secure settings, as recognised by the Children's Commissioner, and government's ambition for the youth secure estate is that all children are accommodated in smaller units that provide child-focused integrated services.
3. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s investigation into the Anglican Church has led to the Church committing to significant reform and a new law to add religious leaders to the definition of ‘positions of trust’.
Since the two reports were published the Church of England has agreed:
- A support and redress scheme with some payments already made to victims and survivors
- The introduction of diocesan safeguarding officers
- The creation of an independent safeguarding board
- The development of an information-sharing agreement between the Church of England and Church in Wales
Further, legislation is pending to ban clergy from sexual relationships with 16-18 year olds in their care - faith leaders and sports coaches will be defined as ‘positions of trust’ alongside others such as teachers and doctors. It would therefore make sexual relationships between people in these positions with those that they supervise illegal.
Two reports were published in relation to the Anglican Church investigation. The first looks at two case studies: the Diocese of Chichester, where there have been multiple allegations of sexual abuse against children, and Peter Ball, who was a bishop in Chichester before becoming Bishop of Gloucester. The first report published in May 2019 found the response by the Church to sexual abuse in Chichester was completely inadequate.
The second report published in October 2020 found the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual predators within their ranks, with 390 people who were clergy or in positions of trust associated with the Church convicted of sexual offences against children from the 1940s to 2018.
Many of these cases demonstrated the Church of England’s failure to take the child sexual abuse seriously, creating a culture where abusers were able to hide. Alleged perpetrators were given more support than victims, who often faced barriers to reporting they simply couldn’t overcome.
Meanwhile the Inquiry found that up until the second report was published, the Church in Wales had never had a programme of external auditing, so there had been no independent scrutiny of its safeguarding practices. That report also highlighted record-keeping as a significant problem for the Church; the Inquiry’s sampling exercise demonstrated both poor record-keeping and a total absence of records in some cases.
The Inquiry made four recommendations, to both the Church of England and the Church in Wales and a further two to each institution separately. Both organisations responded positively, with the Archbishops’ Council formally accepting them in full and creating an independent body to oversee safeguarding practices. This action follows that taken previously by the Church of England in response to recommendations made in the Inquiry’s Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/ Peter Ball report, in which two recommendations were addressed to the Church of England to introduce safeguarding guidance and amend clergy disciplinary measures.
4. The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel has published its Annual Report for 2020. The independent expert panel reviews serious child safeguarding cases – when a child dies or suffers serious harm, and abuse or neglect is known or suspected. New figures show the panel received 482 serious incident notifications which occurred in 2020, with 206 of these incidents involving children who tragically died.
In this exceptional year, local safeguarding partners have shown resilience, creativity and adaptability to maintain support for vulnerable children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the analysis shows that all agencies need to address the stubborn challenges, such as weak information sharing and risk assessment, that have too often, over decades, persistently beset child protection practice.
Examples include initial risk assessments not being updated in response to new information about parental mental health concerns and alcohol and substance misuse, or information of previous convictions for sexual offences not being shared due to a lack of understanding about GDPR and data protection regulations.
Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel Chair, Annie Hudson said:
“During 2020 professionals working to safeguard vulnerable children showed extraordinary ability and resourcefulness in the way that they adapted and innovated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The national Panel focusses on the most serious cases of child abuse and neglect; through this specific lens, we have been able to highlight the urgent need for everyone involved in safeguarding children to address some of the stubborn challenges which have bedeviled much child protection practice. Issues related to effective information sharing, risk assessment and decision making have assumed even greater significance over the past year. It is vital therefore that government departments work together, and with the Panel and local safeguarding partners, to tackle these challenges in what is always very challenging and difficult but potentially lifesaving work.”
The report identifies 6 cross-cutting practice themes for safeguarding partners to make a difference in reducing serious harm and preventing child deaths in the context of abuse or neglect. These themes are supported by a bank of case studies that encapsulate key learning from case reviews.
- Understanding what the child’s daily life is like
- Working with families where their engagement is reluctant and sporadic
- Critical thinking and challenge
- Responding to changing risk and need
- Sharing information in a timely and appropriate way
- Organisational leadership and culture for good outcomes
In order to help tackle these issues, the panel is prioritising risk assessment and decision making in its 2021 work programme. It is also working with the independent review of children’s social care to ensure any recommendations take account of the patterns and trends from serious incidents to better protect all vulnerable children. Also published today is a report into implementing the multi-agency safeguarding reforms by Sir Alan Wood. The panel will have regard to this report and work to implement any recommendations to improve the safeguarding system.
Mr Nesbitt, the founder and director of a former children’s cancer charity, Little Heroes Cancer Trust, was sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment after he was found guilty in March 2021. He stole £87,000 from the charity and transferred £181,000 into a bank account in his name between July 2014 and May 2015.
Judge Gibson, when sentencing today, said the defendant “betrayed the public and the public confidence in this charity and the charity sector.”
Little Heroes Cancer Trust was set up to help children suffering with cancer and to provide support to their families. It made activity books for children in hospitals and donated toys to children’s cancer hospitals.
The charity received funding from the public and once featured on Channel 4’s programme Secret Millionaire, receiving a £100,000 donation.
Little Heroes Cancer Trust was removed from the charity register in 2018. Some of the funds were recovered by the police. A separate proceeds of crime hearing, to determine what should happen to these funds, is scheduled for December.
Tim Hopkins, Assistant Director for Investigations and Inquiries at the Charity Commission, said:
“The very serious criminal actions of Mr Nesbitt had devastating consequences, damaging the charity, its good work and name, as well as impacting significantly on the lives of those connected to it – including its former staff, volunteers and of course the children and their families who once benefitted from its services. The money the public generously donated to Little Heroes Cancer Trust was intended to make a crucial difference to children and their families and we understand why those who supported this charity will also feel let down by his actions. Through our work the Commission was able to help expose his criminal actions and I’m glad that some of the funds were recovered, which should go back to the causes they were intended for.”
2. A pot of £11.25 million has been made available to charitable organisations to bid for, with priority given to those working to end violence against women and girls, as well as organisations that support a network of charities.
For this round of funding, the grant threshold has been reduced from £1 million to £350,000. This means that more organisations will be able to apply, increasing accessibility to organisations that support this vital work.
The Tampon Tax Fund was introduced in response to VAT being imposed on sanitary products by the European Union, and following this round will have provided more than £90 million of funding supporting women and girls’ charities.
As per the government’s manifesto commitment, the Chancellor announced at the Budget in March 2020 that the tax would end on 1 January 2021 following the UK’s exit from the EU, as part of a wider government strategy to make sanitary products affordable and available for all women.
Minister for Civil Society and Youth, Baroness Barran, said:
“The Tampon Tax Fund was launched in 2015, and since then has reached disadvantaged women and girls across all four nations, tackling an extremely wide and diverse range of issues.
The support provided through this final round will ensure specialist charities who receive grants can support women and girls in need, and help to become more sustainable and plan for the future.
We remain as committed as ever to ending violence against women and girls which is why this category is a priority for this round of funding, and we will continue to tackle the issue as a priority.”
The government is particularly encouraging applications from specialist women’s networks whose projects include making onward grants to other women’s’ charitable organisations. This will make use of the expertise in the charitable sector, ensure this round of funding reaches as many disadvantaged women and girls as possible and help the country to build back better following the pandemic.
Grants may be for 12 or 18-month projects, and all activities must be concluded and funds spent by 31 March 2023.
The deadline for applications is Sunday 4 July 2021.
UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said:
“The UK Government’s Tampon Tax Fund has supported charities right across the UK, including Rape Crisis Scotland, with vital work to help women and girls.
The lower grant threshold for this final round of applications will ensure that even more charities can access funding. I’d strongly urge Scottish charities working to support disadvantaged women and girls to apply.”
Worthy of Note
Muhammad Hussain, 20, was convicted of two counts of rape, one count of sexual assault and one count of taking an indecent image of children. Hashim Hussain, 24, was convicted of taking indecent photos/images of children and possessing indecent photos of children.
Muhammad Hussain was sentenced to six years and two months in prison and Hashim Hussain was sentenced to four years in prison at Manchester Minshull St Crown Court today.
Muhammad Hussain raped a 14-year-old in 2016. He videoed himself engaging in sexual activity with the same teenager and another girl on a separate occasion in 2017. He also sexually assaulted a third girl, who was also 14 at the time.
On two separate occasions, his brother Hashim Hussain, 24, took a video of himself sexually abusing young girls while being cheered on by other men.
The brothers groomed vulnerable young girls in Bury so that they felt obliged to engage in sexual acts.
The investigation took three years to complete and was a cross-organisation effort with the CPS, Greater Manchester Police and Bury’s Complex Safeguarding hub, who worked together to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The victims gave detailed evidence to police of the abuse they had been subjected to. Further evidence to support their accounts came from detailed analysis of images on the defendants’ mobile phones, which showed the abusers’ clothing, footwear and jewellery.
Jo Lazzari from the CPS said: "Muhammad and Hashim Hussain treated these young girls as objects for their own sexual gratification. They exploited their vulnerability without any thought to the devastating impact of the abuse on the girls’ lives.
"I would like to thank these very brave young women for supporting the prosecutions and trusting us with their experiences. They described feeling ashamed, but it is the defendants who should now feel the shame of being convicted and jailed as predatory sex offenders.
"I would say to anyone abused in this way please come forward and tell the police what happened to you. You will be listened to and your allegations taken seriously. Victims should not feel they are at fault when they are preyed on by offenders. Everyone has a right to expect respect for their body and not be subjected to unwanted and harmful sexual exploitation. We will continue to work with Greater Manchester Police and other local partners to make sure these cases are brought to justice and I sincerely hope the convictions of their abusers will go some way to helping these young women to rebuild their lives."
Detective Inspector Ian Partington, Senior Investigating Officer, said: "This has been an immensely thorough investigation in order to bring Muhammad and Hashim Hussain to account for their despicable and sickening crimes, and it is a great relief that they are now to spend time behind bars.
"Our investigation team have worked tirelessly to secure today's outcomes, but this would not have been possible had it not been for the courage and resilience of the victims to speak to police and pursue with the trial and to relive that abuse. Everyone in the team pays tribute to their unwavering bravery.
"I know that they believe the journey of the last three years in getting this case successfully through the courts has been worth it, and I join them in hoping that anyone else out there who's a victim of abuse - whether it's in Bury, Greater Manchester, or elsewhere in the country - to come forward and speak to police knowing that information will be treat with the strictest confidence.
"If there are other victims out there who now feel the time is right to come forward, then we are ready and determined to get justice for you, too.
"I would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Bury council for their support in being able to secure these convictions and help rid our town of two remorseless sex offenders and put them where they belong."
On Wednesday, 19 May, officers from the Met’s East Area Command led a multi-agency operation that focused on the disruption of a suspected organised crime network operating in London and Lincolnshire.
The intelligence based police activity was the result of months of planning by Met officers from the East Area Drugs Focus Desk and their colleagues from the British Transport Police and Essex Police.
The operational activity included a raid at a commercial container yard in Purfleet, Essex, where more than 200 containers were opened and searched by officers resulting in the recovery of three stolen 'off-road' vehicles and a number of illegal substances, cash and firearms. The substances and two Section 5 firearms await testing.
A man [A] was arrested at the container yard on suspicion of possession of a Section 5 firearm.
In addition, two warrants were conducted at addresses in east London. These resulted in three arrests for offences including possession of Class A drugs, possession of Class B drugs and possession of a Section 5 firearm. In addition a quantity of cash was seized suspected of being proceeds of crime.
A man [B] and a woman [C] were arrested at a residential address in Havering.
A man [D] was arrested at a different residential address in Havering.
Searches are expected to continue throughout the day.
Detective Sergeant Owen Morgan of the Met’s East Area Command Drug Focus Desk said: “There’s an undeniable link between drugs and violence and it’s crucial we continue to act on this. That’s why disrupting the supply of drugs continues to form a central part of our work to tackle violence on the streets.
“This operation will not only disrupt criminals using lock-up facilities to store their criminal property, but will also supply a wealth of information that, following this operation, will be fully investigated.
“Along with our partner agencies, we are working hard to safeguard children and vulnerable adults by targeting those at the top of the network, the individuals who don’t risk handling the drugs themselves, but coordinate the distribution through the exploitation of others.
“The sale of drugs can be devastating to the quality of life for communities, not least to the families of vulnerable youngsters who are recruited by criminals to supply the product face to face with users, often in other parts of the country without their family’s knowledge.
“To the general public, county lines if often seen as nothing more than drug dealing, but, in reality, it is so much more. It causes harm to generations of young people and their families and has a negative impact on the quality of life for those living alongside it.
“Initially, the recruits are tempted into crime by the promise of cash rewards and they often believe that their involvement with a successful drug supplier will increase their own social status. They couldn’t be more wrong. Once involved, they are often threatened with violence and can find themselves unable to escape the network without help.
“We will continue to work with our policing colleagues both regionally and nationally in order to disrupt and dismantle organised criminal networks.”
+Do you have information about drug crime? If you have information that could help keep your community safe, but don’t want to speak to police, please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They do not ask your name and cannot trace your call or I.P address. Any young people who have information about drug dealing or want information about the consequences of drug crime, can visit the Fearless website to where they can pass on information anonymously – your I.P address will not be traced. Fearless is part of the Crimestoppers charity, and is also independent of the police.
Hard calls save lives. Are you close to someone on the fringes of violence or drug crime? Do the right thing, please give information, 100 per cent anonymously, through the independent charity Crimestoppers.
No piece of information about violent crime is insignificant or too small. Any information you give to Crimestoppers can make a difference in reducing knife crime and the harm it causes to families.
“For nine years, Chris Hughes has fought a battle very few people ever see.
He oversees a team of 21 analysts in Cambridge who locate, identify and remove child sexual abuse material (CSAM) from the internet.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is funded by the global tech industry.
It manually reviews online reports of suspected criminal content sent in by the public. Mr Hughes sees upsetting material every day.
When content is verified, analysts create unique "digital fingerprints" of each photo or video, then send it to law enforcement and tech firms. They also search for material online.
Occasionally, there are harrowing situations racing to track down victims from live streaming video.
Reports jumped during the pandemic, he says: "Over the recent May bank holiday weekend, we had more than 2,000 reports."
In 2020, IWF received 300,000 reports and 153,000 were verified to be new (Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) content.
Police say more child predators can now be found on messaging apps, rather than on the dark web. Many don't even encrypt their web traffic.
Many authorities are concerned that Facebook wants to introduce end-to-end encryption on messages sent over Messenger and Instagram Direct.
End-to-end encryption is a privacy feature that makes it impossible for anyone except the sender and recipient to read messages sent online.
Authorities are concerned, saying this will make it much harder to apprehend suspects and detect child predators.
Facebook says using such technology will protect users' privacy.
But the US, UK and Australia have repeatedly objected to the idea since 2019, saying it will jeopardise work to combat child abuse.
Australia has also demanded the tech industry hand over public encryption keys - backdoors to their networks - to authorities. Firms, both abroad and in Australia, refused.
Enabling backdoors would be bad, says Jenny Afia, head of Schillings' legal team: "Any legally-enforced weakening of the encryption algorithm, or vulnerability placed within the software...would potentially allow criminals to exploit [it].
"It is worth bearing in mind that having end-to-end encryption in place has already prevented a lot of crime."
Netsweeper in Canada catalogues the internet to help schools and internet service providers block harmful content.
It sees a quarter of the world's internet traffic and is in 37% of British schools, scanning 100 million new URLs daily. Up to 300 URLs are reported to IWF daily.
"To date, governments have left the large tech companies alone - probably because they didn't understand them as much as they do now," says Netsweeper's chief executive Perry Roach.
"But if we don't enable law enforcement with sophisticated tools, it will allow criminals, scammers, paedophiles and terrorists to move across the internet undetected."
Software engineer Brian Bason founded US firm Bark after giving his sons their first mobile phones.
Bark uses AI neural networks to analyse text messages and social media in milliseconds for bullying, online predation, child abuse, signs of depression and suicidal ideas.
Children have to agree to hand over their login credentials, but only relevant sections of messages are sent in alerts to parents and schools.
Bark has informed the FBI of nearly a thousand child predators over the last five years.
"The reality is end-to-end encryption will drastically reduce the amount of CSAM material reported to authorities," Mr Bason tells the BBC. "To me, the trade-off is not worth it."
Perhaps these firms disagree because their business models rely on having unfettered access to data pipelines.
However, former UK and US intelligence agency staff tell the BBC there are other successful methods investigators can use if end-to-end encryption is introduced, like phishing, where users are tricked into visiting fake websites and handing over login credentials.
Internet giants should use machine learning to detect child predator behaviour on the device or server, they add, which wouldn't break encryption, as it occurs only after the message has been decrypted.
Thorn, a US foundation that develops software to combat child exploitation, identifies eight child victims and 215 pieces of child abuse material per day.
Sarah Gardner, VP of external affairs at Thorn, suggests using "homomorphic encryption"- a form of encryption that lets users perform computations on encrypted data, without first decrypting it.
Another option would be to invest in better solutions, she adds.
Edinburgh-based Cyan Forensics, which uses statistical sampling to scan suspects' devices for CSAM content in just 10 minutes, agrees.
"End-to-end encryption is here already and it's neither good nor bad," says Cyan Forensics' co-founder and chief executive Ian Stevenson.
"However, there is a dire need for broader protocols to ensure the safety of children online."
Former detective constable Alan McConnell, who worked on more than a hundred child sex abuse cases, left Police Scotland to teach Cyan about the problems the police face.
As a result of his work, a major UK police force used Cyan's software to detect CSAM material on an ex-offender's computer in March. The individual was found to have surreptitiously installed cameras at a club used by children.
However, a senior German prosecutor says his biggest problem is getting tech firms to play ball.
We're addressing all the big tech firms - please help us," says Markus Hartmann, director of North Rhine-Westphalia's central cybercrime department.
"You hear they have these big teams fighting digital crimes, and I wonder, why don't they file any complaints with law enforcement?"
His unit recently busted a child pornography ring, charging 65 suspects and rescuing a 13-year-old child.
They were aided by Microsoft, which scanned its database of Skype users to locate the suspects' IP addresses.
Mr Hartmann is surprisingly in favour of encryption.
"If you break encryption, put in backdoors or ban it, then you're doing more harm than good... and I doubt the guys we are really going after, will not be able to get around it," he says.
"Even as a prosecutor, I could set up my own end-to-end encrypted network in two days, routed through public libraries."”
More than 1,500 UK teachers replied to a questionnaire from BBC Radio 4's File on 4 and teachers' union the NASUWT.
More than half said they did not think adequate procedures were in place in their schools to deal with abuse.
Many are also unsure how to deliver elements of a new sex-and-relationships curriculum, which the government says third parties might now help with.
In England, the Department for Education has introduced a compulsory Sex and Relationships Education (RSE) curriculum in all schools, focusing on relationships in primary schools and sex and relationships in secondaries.
It has also asked Ofsted to review peer-on-peer safeguarding procedures.
Of the teachers surveyed, almost a third said they had witnessed peer-on-peer sexual harassment or abuse and almost one in 10 said they saw it on a weekly basis.
The debate about a culture of sexual abuse at schools has escalated in recent months after a website set up for victims to post their experiences anonymously gained more than 16,000 posts - some from children as young as nine.
The Everyone's Invited website publishes anonymous allegations which refer mostly to sexual harassment carried out against young women by young men at their school or university.
The government has now launched a dedicated hotline with the NSPCC for young people who feel they have been harassed and abused.
Since the helpline launched at the beginning of April, it has received more than 350 calls, and 65 referrals have been made to agencies including social services and the police.
The Reason to Remain Vigilant in All Aspects of Safeguarding
1. A computing student who had almost 500 child sexual abuse images including two horrific videos of very young victims being assaulted has been sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for two years.
Abid Miah, 21, from Fenham in Newcastle, admitted to three counts of making indecent images and was sentenced today at Newcastle Crown Court.
On 23 May 2020 National Crime Agency investigators arrested Miah at his home on suspicion of making/distributing and possessing indecent images of children. Officers searched his house and recovered Miah’s Samsung mobile phone, a memory stick, and a laptop.
Forensic examination revealed that the phone and laptop contained 493 indecent images of children. There were 177 category A images (the most serious), 157 category B and 159 category C. Many of the images were hidden in a secret album and an encrypted cloud storage app.
NCA investigators discovered two horrific category A videos: one of a four-year-old girl being sexually abused and another of another very young girl being tortured and sexually abused.
These videos were known to law enforcement and the children, who were abused abroad, were safeguarded.
After answering ‘no comment’ in interview and originally denying the offences Miah pleaded guilty in February this year.
Tracy Holbrook, NCA senior investigating officer, said: “Abid Miah possessed some truly horrific material, some of it was the most distressing my team have had to view in a long time.
“Miah tried to conceal his offending by using a fake email address and encrypted storage applications.
“Protecting children is one of the NCA’s biggest priorities and we will do everything we can to safeguard victims and stop offenders.”
Miah was put on the sex offenders register for 10 years.
He was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, made to forfeit his electronic devices and sent on a rehabilitation course.
Child protection charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation runs the Stop It Now! helpline which offers confidential advice to anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s behaviour towards children.
Information and advice can be found on the Thinkuknow website. Links include advice for parents, carers and professionals.
2. Two victims of child sexual abuse have waived their right to anonymity to speak about how teacher John Foxley affected their lives, and how they hope others will come forward now that he has been convicted. Foxley, who taught at the former Bracondale School in Norwich, was jailed for 16 years on Wednesday for abusing five boys over a decade, from the early 1980s.
"This isn't something you just decide you are going to be - a paedophile," said Matt Pike.
"He was very clever at what he did. He'd plied his wares for a long time, groomed people, he knew exactly what he was doing.
"He was doing it solely for his own gratification."
As a young boy at Bracondale School, Mr Pike was warned by Foxley, his former geography teacher, not to tell anyone about what was taking place.
"When you're at the age of 12, who's going to believe you that this happened? In the 80s people looked the other way," he said.
"You'd turn up for school on a Monday and couldn't wait until Friday.
"And then you couldn't wait until half-term, and then you couldn't wait until the end of term, and then you can't wait until you're 15 and you leave school.
"You pack all those memories in a little suitcase in your head and shut the suitcase and try and get on with your life."
Mr Pike would have liked Foxley, now 68, to have been given a longer jail term than 16 years, but the law about sentencing of historical sexual abuse cases prevents this.
It says when such an offender is sentenced, the punishment should be according to the law at the time the offence was committed.
"If my geography teacher had done what he'd done in 2003 and onwards, I'm right in saying, his sentence would have totalled 98 years.
"Instead the judge had to revert back to the old system."
"I feel like 30 years' weight of misunderstanding and questioning has evaporated," said Chris Sargisson, speaking after Foxley was jailed.
"I felt believed, because up until that point, really right up to that point, you question.
"I think the experience of Bracondale could have ruined my life. I left that school with zero self-worth."
Mr Sargisson said of Foxley: "There was nothing remarkable about him as a teacher, and that was kind of the point, he was in the shadows.
"He was able to use his position as a house master to get children on their own regularly unquestioned."
With regards to the jail sentence, he said: "He should have got more years but he won't live more years, so it's a life sentence."
Both of the abused men expect more former pupils to come forward now Foxley has been jailed.
"This isn't the end of this, there were five of us, but there will be more," said Mr Sargisson.
It is thought Foxley sexually abused others, not only in Norwich, but at other schools where he used to teach.
Yat-Sen Chang, 49, was convicted at Isleworth Crown Court of 12 counts of sexual assault and one count of assault by penetration, a court official said.
The offences took place at the English National Ballet and Young Dancers Academy in London between December 2009 and March 2016, and relate to four female complainants who were aged between 16 and 18 at the time.
They accused Chang of touching them inappropriately during massages at the schools.
The jury convicted Chang, who lives in the German port city of Kiel, after 13 hours and one minute of deliberations.
He was remanded in custody to be sentenced at the same court on June 18.
Judge Edward Connell told Chang his offending “escalated in seriousness” and warned him he faces a “lengthy custodial sentence”.
Opening the trial last month, prosecutor Joel Smith said the “internationally renowned” ballet dancer was “both famous and revered” by young dancers and students of ballet.
Mr Smith told jurors Chang “used his position” to commit sexual offences against young students in his care, adding: “Children, whom he had been trusted to teach.
“For his part, he trusted that his fame and his position would protect him from complaint, or from consequences of his actions.
“The story of this case is sadly often heard – it is a man with power and prestige using them to abuse younger women.”
Nahid Mannan, a senior crown prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution service, said: “Yat-Sen Chang used his position as a famed and trusted ballet teacher to groom and sexually assault teenage dancers under his training.
“At 20 years their senior, Chang would have been well aware that his conduct was grossly inappropriate and predatory.
“Yet he used his power and influence to abuse and sexually intimidate his young victims.
“During the trial Chang claimed that although he had advised students to get massages or do stretches to help with tight calves, he had never offered to personally massage them.
“In fact, he said he had only touched students to correct their posture during lessons.
“However, the strong prosecution case which included evidence provided by the victims in pre-recorded video interviews, meant that the jury were able to convict Chang for his crimes.
“I would like to highlight the courage of the young victims in this case without whose testimony this result may not have been possible.
“Sexual crimes are some of the most serious and complex cases to prosecute – the CPS will always aim to bring these cases to court where there is the evidence to do so.”
Chang was on trial for 14 offences in total, and was found not guilty of one count of assault by penetration.
During the trial Chang said he had “no idea” why the allegations were made against him, and said he had not touched any of the complainants in an inappropriate or sexual way.
According to a profile on the German Theatre Kiel website, the Cuban dancer joined the English National Ballet in 1993 and was a principal dancer until 2011, where he performed in productions which included The Nutcracker, Coppelia and Sleeping Beauty.
Helen Maher at Chester Crown Court has been sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
Maher’s adult daughter, who has Spina Bifida and is not able to handle her own finances, was paid a Personal Health Budget (PHB) to support her health and wellbeing from a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The CPS presented banking evidence showing payments of £73,106.97 were paid into the defendant’s bank account between 3 May 2017 and 16 April 2019, intended to be spent on her daughter’s care. The money was moved into different bank accounts under the defendant’s control and evidence showed that Maher spent the money on gambling, foreign holidays and household bills.
Maher admitted theft of the money when interviewed by NHS investigators.
Natalie Cassidy of the CPS said: “Helen Maher was entrusted by community services to properly manage the finances of her adult daughter who needed support because of her condition.
“Instead of spending money on care for her daughter, Maher spent £73,106.97 on foreign holidays, gambling and household bills. Her theft deprived her daughter of much-needed funds but ultimately cost the taxpayer.
“The CPS worked closely with NHS investigators to examine the extent of the theft committed by Maher and we are pleased she has now been brought to justice.”
The CPS is committed to securing justice in cases involving dishonest conduct where there is harm or loss for vulnerable victims, as well as to the taxpayer and public finances.
Stephen Henry Walker, 68, was found guilty of 40 charges of sexual assaults relating to 15 victims, both boys and girls, following two criminal trials at Croydon crown court earlier this year.
He was convicted of 33 counts of sexual assault in the first trial, which lasted more than seven weeks, and a further seven counts of abuse in the second.
Walker, who worked as a salesman and was a Metropolitan police officer for about a year, was also a coach for a number of children’s football teams, where he met some of the victims, while others were children he knew through family friends.
Although the majority of the offences were committed in Surrey, Walker also abused children in France and Malta and other locations outside the UK.
An investigation into his offending was launched after one of the victims came forward in March 2018. As the enquiries progressed, his strong sexual interest in children, particularly boys – although two of the victims were girls – became apparent.
The offences included sexual assaults, gross indecency with children, inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency, as well as offences of attempted buggery and buggery of some of the children. The offences took place between 1966 and 2007. Once the full extent of Walker’s abuse began to emerge, he fled to Malta, where he lived under an alias.
He returned to the UK in October 2019 and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of child sexual abuse offences. Two days later, he was charged and remanded into custody.
Surrey police’s complex abuse team located other potential victims and witnesses. This resulted in a large number of victims being identified and led to further charges being laid against Walker while he was on remand.
Many of Walker’s victims were in court for Monday’s sentencing hearing. Some read out prepared impact statements, others requested their barristers read their statements for them. They detailed emotional problems triggered by Walker’s abuse, including addiction, psychiatric problems and difficulty forming relationships.
One woman who was abused at the age of 11 and is now 66, said: “The pain has never gone away. I suffered enormous guilt that I allowed it to happen.”
Another said: “I have not spoken about what Stephen Walker did to me for over 40 years. It’s something I tried to forget and put it behind me. He told me there was nothing wrong with what he did. It was a child’s word against an adult’s.”
A third said of being able to provide the impact statement: “I’m glad I have had the chance to speak out and be believed.”
A fourth said he was mad about football and would have done anything to please Walker. “It’s hard to explain what someone like Stephen does to you. He gets inside your psyche. He sexually abused me without a thought for the pain he caused to an innocent boy.”
One man, convinced that abused children grow up to become abusers, left his own children when they were small, for fear of harming them. He is now reunited with his family and has good relationships with them but said “the loss of those wonderful early years is irretrievable”.
Walker was brought to court on Monday for sentencing but refused to enter the courtroom to listen to their impact statements or to hear his sentence.
Judge Elizabeth Smaller said he was a “serial sexual child abuser” who “chose those who were vulnerable or who he perceived to be vulnerable … or who he felt would be unlikely to be believed”.
The judge imposed sentences for the different offences to run concurrently with the longest sentence of 28 years with an extended one year of licence. He will have to serve a minimum of 14 years before he can apply for parole.
Raymond Mongan, 85, of The Crescent, Wallsend, and Alfred Spraggon, 79, of Shipley Avenue, were sentenced for numerous charges relating to the sexual abuse of young boys in their care.
The offences were committed between 1958 and 1966 when the pair were working as volunteers at the St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage in Newcastle.
Mongan had previously pleaded guilty to nine charges relating to the abuse of six victims, who were aged seven-14 at the time of the offences. Spraggon had previously pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, but was found guilty after trial of four charges relating to the abuse of two victims, who were aged 11-13 at the time of the offences.
In an unusual aspect of the case, several of the victims had died before the case came to court. However, prosecutors worked closely with police to build a robust hearsay application to the court, which allowed their previously recorded evidence to be adduced.
Jeanette Smith of the CPS said: “In their evidence to police, the victims in this case described the horrific situation in which they found themselves at St. Vincent’s Orphanage. They endured emotional and physical abuse from the nuns in whose care they had been placed and, when the sexual abuse by Mongan and Spraggon took place, they were justifiably afraid of the potential repercussions if they were to speak out.
“For their part, Mongan and Spraggon groomed their young victims during activities outside the orphanage and preyed on the boys in their dormitories when left alone with them in the evening. Understandably, the impact of their offending on their vulnerable victims was significant, the repercussions of which have stayed with their victims for their entire lives.
“A great tragedy of this case is that many of the victims involved have died before this case was brought to court.
“I would like to thank DC Alderson of Northumbria Police, whose excellent work helped us to secure the crucial hearsay application, allowing the testimony of the deceased victims to be used in this case.”
In 2001, a single victim provided a written statement to police about abuse he had suffered at the orphanage, leading to the arrest and interview of Spraggon. At that time, in the absence of any corroborative evidence, no further action was taken against him and the victim's statement was placed on file.
In November 2016, a second victim attended a Newcastle police station to report that he had been abused by Mongan, at which point police took a video recording of his evidence. This man also named another victim, whom police were able to trace in May 2017. This third victim provided his own account of abuses suffered at the orphanage and a full investigation was launched.
Unfortunately, all three men died before the case came to trial; The first in October 2013, the second in December 2017 and the third in December 2019.
The convictions come as the CPS intensifies efforts to narrow the gap between reports of rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) and cases reaching court. Last year we launched our RASSO 2025 strategy, an ambitious five-year programme to drive system-wide improvements in the handling of rape cases and increase the number of strong prosecutions.
In January we published the Joint National Action Plan in partnership with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which sets out a wide-ranging plan for greater collaboration to improve the response to RASSO cases.
Sara (not her real name) was 19 when she went with her family to Pakistan for her elder sister's wedding but once there, learnt she was getting wed too.
One charity has warned there could be a spike in cases as international travel restrictions ease and the UK Border Force should be "on alert".
UK Border Force said it trains officers in protecting vulnerable people.
Sara, from south Wales, said that years later she was still affected by what happened.
She told Wales Live: "I wanted a life, a career and everything else, and I'm being told I'm getting married to somebody I don't even know.
"I felt upset, angry. I was just being pawned off to somebody, like I was basically cattle.
"It was a big punch in the guts, a very big punch.
"You're angry because you're in that situation, but then you're also fearful because you don't know this person, you don't know what they're going to do to you or how they're going to be with you.
"And then, obviously, it's the emotional side of the relationship and the physical side too.
"Because if you don't know this person and they want to be laying down with you, if you like, your resistance to that only results in physical violence, and rape of course.
"It was absolutely horrific. At the time I was 19, so I was a virgin, and to have your virginity taken away by rape stays with you basically forever."
Sara was in Pakistan for a year and said she was "physically and mentally tortured". She was only able to come back to Wales when her visa ran out.
She moved back in with her family and one day, she heard a car outside.
"I was getting ready for work and I looked out of the window. My dad got out and then my husband got out the other side," she added.
"They had gone to the airport to get him, but I'd had no idea he was coming here."
Sara's father tried to make her continue in the marriage.
"I went to my father and I told him what was going on, and his reply back to my plea for help was 'get on with it, this is what happens, get on with it'.
"The way I see it was I was thrown to the wolves, because obviously when it was just me and him, he was able to do what he wanted to.
"I've been held by my ankles over a well, I've looked down the barrel of a gun and I've had a gun pointed to my head and someone flicking the trigger, like they're playing Russian roulette.
"And having to go through experiences like that, knowing that those experiences have only happened to you because of your family - not my family as a whole, a few of the members of my family - it changes you."
Sara managed to escape with the help of a friend and went to a refuge run by the charity Bawso, which offers support and refuge to victims of forced marriage.
Bawso said "escape routes" have been shut down during the pandemic.
From March 2020 to January 2021, Bawso supported 49 victims of honour-based violence and forced marriage compared with 151 victims in the year to March 2020.
According to UK government figures, the number of forced marriage protection orders issued in Wales has plummeted since the start of the pandemic, going from 60 in 2019 to fewer than five in 2020.
These orders allow young people to apply to the courts for protection by, for example, stopping their family taking them out of the UK, while keeping them out of the criminal system.
Nancy Lidubwi from the charity said she expected a spike in cases when international travel restrictions eased and the UK Border Force should be "on alert".
"We all just have to be on the lookout. We all have to work collaboratively - schools, social services, police, UK Border Agency has got to be looking at young people going out of the country and ask those key questions," she added.
"Don't shy away from asking if they see there is a young person and they look like they are under duress and they are travelling with a family out of this country."
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "No-one should be forced to marry and our Border Force officers are always on high alert to ensure they can safeguard victims from so-called honour-based abuse.
"All Border Force officers receive mandatory training in protecting vulnerable people, which includes learning how to identify potential victims of forced marriage. We also have a cadre of specialist safeguarding officers operating at the border who are on hand to assist potential victims."
This builds on extensive collaboration across England and Wales, where police and CPS have joined forces to roll out significant changes to shared working practices in order to reduce delays and increase charges.