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SAFE Newlsetter: November Newsletter

Dear Colleague

Welcome to the latest safeguarding news round up. We do hope you find it of interest and would like extend you and your team every best wish for a peaceful festive season and Happy New Year.

Here is a roundup of safeguarding news for November 2019.

News

The new Wales Safeguarding Procedures mobile app has just been launched as a new national approach to improve safeguarding in Wales .

Anti-Bullying Week was held during November from 11th to the 15th 

Legislation

Scotland

Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019

This Act of the Scottish Parliament abolishes the defence of reasonable chastisement, used to defend parental smacking of children. Where there is no law in place, such as England, it is still an offence to leave a mark or use an implement on a child when disciplining the child.

Reports, Reviews, Resources, Research and Inquiries

1.The NSPCC Library hosts the National Collection of Serious case Reviews Case Reviews. This update highlights case reviews added to the collection during October 2019. 

2.The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has announced a new investigation into Effective Leadership of Child Protection. The investigation will focus on practical experience of leadership and management.

In this investigation, the Inquiry will build on its findings on leadership in the interim and investigation reports and consider further evidence on issues including:

  • Ensuring organisations are safe, and effective at being safe

  • Achieving openness, transparency and good communication

  • Ensuring good communication, escalation of issues and concerns with clear lines of accountability, and good leadership in scenarios where there is no direct line management structure

  • Using management and audit information to understand the institution, its systems and its performance, so that systemic warning signs can be identified early

  • Responding appropriately to internal and external pressure, for example from politicians, community leaders, parents, funders and other key stakeholders so that child welfare and protection is prioritised

  • Responding to the evidence of "whistleblowers" and recommendations from inspectorates, Serious Case Reviews and similar reports

  • Learning from past institutional failures, including adverse events, including embedding a 'learning' not a 'blaming' culture

  • Given its thematic nature, this investigation will not focus on any individual case studies or particular institution.  Instead it will consider evidence on the institutional leadership themes set out above from a range of sectors in England and Wales, not necessarily limited to those with responsibility for children.

  • The Inquiry will have regard to the evidence already obtained about these issues in other investigations and will not seek to duplicate evidence already obtained. 

  • For the purpose of determining Core Participant applications, the matters to which the inquiry relates are those set out above. The deadline for applications for Core Participant status in this investigation is 4pm on 13 December 2019. 

  • A preliminary hearing in relation to this investigation will take place at 10.30am on 25 February 2020 at the Inquiry's hearing centre in Pocock St.

  • The Inquiry will hold a public hearing in this investigation in 2020.

3. The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has called for an overhaul of inspections and changes to the Mental Health Act to protect those detained from "horrific reality". Number 10 unit with Cabinet level leadership required to urgently drive forward reform. 

Parliament's JCHR condemns the "horrific reality" of conditions and treatment under which many young people with learning disabilities and autism are detained in mental health hospitals, "inflicting terrible suffering on those detained and causing anguish to their distraught families". 

Evidence to the inquiry into the detention of young people with learning disabilities and/or autism was so "stark" and consistent that the Committee says it has "lost confidence that the system is doing what it says it is doing and the regulator's method of checking is not working. It has been left to the media, notably the BBC and Ian Birrell in the Mail on Sunday, to expose abuse. No-one thinks this is acceptable." In relation to the Care Quality Commission, the Committee finds that "a regulator which gets it wrong is worse than no regulator at all". 

Too often families of those with learning disabilities and/or autism are considered to be the problem when they ought to be the solution. Families must be recognised as human rights defenders. 

4. A rise in family conflict and hardship is behind the heightened pressure on child protection services, according to a new survey of councillors responsible for children's social care by the Local Government Association (LGA). LGA's report on children's social care budgets shows that Councils have seen a 53 per cent increase in children on child protection plans - an additional 18,160 children - in the past decade, while 88 children are now taken into care every day to keep them safe.

With more children being referred for urgent child protection support, councils are increasingly having to divert cash away from early intervention services, which can tackle problems for children at risk before they get worse, into the services that protect children at risk of immediate harm. 

In an LGA poll of children's services of lead councillors, more than 80 per cent said problems like domestic violence, substance misuse and offending were behind the rise in their area, while 70 per cent said that poverty, poor housing and debt played a part.

Of the councillors surveyed, 64 per cent said the number of children and young people receiving child protection support or being taken into care has increased "to a great extent" since 2015/16. 

The LGA is calling for children's services to be fully funded alongside investment in services which prevent children reaching that point in the first place and help families to stay together and thrive.

Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said:

"Councils want to make sure that children can get the best, rather than just get by. Yet, funding pressures are coinciding with huge increases in demand for support because of problems like hardship and family conflict, which is making it increasingly difficult for them to do that. 

"No family is immune to life's challenges, and every family should feel safe in the knowledge that if they need it, help is there to get things back on track. 

"If councils are to give children and families the help they need and deserve, it is vital they are fully funded. This is not just children's services, but the breadth of support councils can provide, from public health to housing.  

"This extra funding will help but it is just one year. However councils need long-term, sufficient and sustainable funding so they can deliver the best for our children and families."

5. IWF has published a selection of data which shows the number of child sexual abuse URLs (web pages) found on different platforms online. It is in response to an enquiry by the Daily Telegraph which requested figures on the number of child sexual abuse URLs found on a selection of popular online platforms. The sample of platforms chosen by the Daily Telegraph does not take into account all social networks, search engines or cloud hosting sites, however.

IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves OBE, said: "The IWF secures the removal of millions of images and videos showing the sexual abuse of children from the open internet and we're proud of the work we do protecting children from a lifetime of suffering.
 "The vast majority of child sexual abuse imagery we find is linked to darker places of the internet, hosted in countries outside of the UK, on platforms not commonly known about. 

"We know that people who collate and hide this material want cheap hosting space, with easy access and a reliable 'service' which doesn't take a tough approach to criminal content. 

"It's a bit of a myth that all of this content is hosted on social networks; of the 105,047 URLs we identified showing child sexual abuse material last year, just half a percent (0.5%) were hosted on social media sites. It's important to recognise, however, that IWF operates on the open internet, not on messaging services like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp which are person-to-person communications. 

"Just knowing the platforms where we've found content isn't necessarily a good indication of how the imagery was created or where the dangers are to children and young people. But we would like to give people meaningful data about how child sexual abuse material is being made available on the internet where we can.

"We are therefore having discussions with our Members and other key stakeholders about how to do this best as part of the broader conversation around the online harms white paper.

"We clearly cannot publish a full list of where we find child sexual abuse imagery as this would be tantamount to revealing to offenders the best places to hide it. However, it's important to note that law enforcement agencies around the world are always made aware of the platforms in question when child sexual abuse material is found, and steps are taken to remove the imagery."

In 2018 image hosting sites represented 82% of all child sexual abuse imagery identified by IWF.

6. New research explores children and young people's views on online sexual harm

The 'Learning about online sexual harm' report analyses the views of more than 260 children aged 11-18 from primary and secondary schools across England and Wales. Researchers also interviewed nine young people who had experienced online sexual harm about what more could be done to protect others.

This report was produced by researchers at The International Centre at the University of Bedfordshire on behalf of the Inquiry, and forms part of the Internet investigation.

It finds that many children tend to accept the risk of being exposed to sexual harm as a 'normal part' of being online, with girls particularly accustomed to receiving explicit images.

It highlights the existence of an online 'approval culture', exacerbated by celebrities and the media, which can lead young people to ignore privacy settings in order to increase their audience.

9 percent of participants said they had learnt about online sexual harm from personal experience, while 83 percent of secondary school pupils said online sites need to do more to keep children safe.

One particular concern was that almost 9 in 10 pupils said it was their own responsibility to keep themselves safe online. This can lead to harmful feelings of guilt and self-blame in the event of abuse, and also stop children from seeking the help and support they need.

7. Organised crime groups are playing an increased role in doorstep crime and other scams, according to the annual Consumer Harm Report 2019 published by National Trading Standards. 

These gangs frequently target vulnerable young men from deprived areas - such as those with alcohol and drug dependencies, people who are unemployed, homeless people and immigrants - to carry out substandard house 'improvements' and unnecessary repairs on people's properties. Victims of the scams are often in vulnerable situations themselves - doorstep criminals tend to target residents living alone, with an illness or a disability.

Worthy of note

1. In a letter to Professor Alexis Jay OBE Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Chris Philp MP Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for Justice says:

"We are grateful to you and the panel for your report of the 9 May 2019 Anglican Church Case Studies: the Diocese of Chichester and the response to allegations against Peter Ball. The report contained the following recommendation for the Government: 

Recommendation 3: The Government should amend Section 21 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 so as to include clergy within the definition of a position of trust. This would criminalise under s16-s20 sexual activity between clergy and a person aged 16-18, over whom they exercise pastoral authority, involving the abuse of a position of trust. 

I am pleased to be able to provide a response to this recommendation. We will publish this letter on GOV.UK. 

I should first like to assure the Inquiry that the criminal law already provides a number of protections to deal with non-consensual and unwanted sexual activity and abuse. These offences rightly carry robust sentences to reflect the seriousness of such offending. 

We recognise that there are deeply-held concerns about those who might abuse their position of power over a 16 or 17-year-old to pressure them into engaging in sexual activity. 

Such behaviour is likely to be caught by the robust laws we already have in place, and I want to actively encourage anyone who feels that they are a victim of sexual abuse to contact the police. We remain determined that such activity should be investigated, prosecuted and punished, no matter what the perpetrator's occupation or relationship to the individual might be. 

We want to ensure that existing offences are being used effectively to tackle this behaviour, and that those working with young people understand their responsibilities and act appropriately. The Ministry of Justice, working closely with colleagues across Government, has already taken forward a review of existing offences, to ensure that they are working as effectively as possible and are clearly understood. 

As part of this review, we reached out to the Police and CPS to get their valuable input into how the law is working in practice and how to raise awareness of the existing law and the protections it offers to young people. We will continue to work together as we identify any further action that might need to be taken. 

Another key part of this review was our engagement with organisations that work with young people and represent their interests in order to understand their concerns, and also to ensure that the right measures are in place to protect young people from inappropriate behaviour. We held a number of roundtables and smaller meetings with representatives across a wide range of sectors and in a range of capacities, including representatives from faith groups. These were vital to inform our thinking as we consider what, if any, actions we should take going forward. 

We are considering the findings of the review in detail and will announce next steps in due course, and will keep the Inquiry updated as this work progresses. 

I should finally like to reassure the Inquiry that the protection of children and young people from the scourge of sexual abuse and exploitation remains a top priority for the Government." 

2. The Internet Watch Foundation, a charity which works to remove online child sexual abuse, is calling for people to report videos and images anonymously and safely to their hotline, warning that possessing indecent images of children, no matter what the intention, is a crime. 

Novlett Robyn Williams, 54, has been found guilty of possessing an indecent image of a child, but not guilty of corruption. 

It was reported that The Old Bailey heard Williams' sister had received a video from her partner and passed it on to a group including Williams in the hopes of alerting her to the abuse and prompting action.

Williams had denied the charges but was convicted of possessing the video.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, IWF CEO said: "This is a salutary reminder of what people should do in these situations if they stumble across images or videos of child sexual abuse. 

"No matter who you are, possessing indecent images of children is a criminal offence. 

"People need to know the right way to take action when they see something online that needs to be removed.

"If you ever see something like this on the internet, please report it to the police and the IWF to ensure that the content is traced and removed. 

"This is safe and anonymous, and is the right way to do the right thing."

3. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (often abbreviated to CRC or UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. It was signed 30 years ago on  on 20th November 1989. 

The Children Act 1989 is UK legislation allocating duties to local authorities, courts, parents, and other agencies in the United Kingdom, to ensure children are safeguarded and their welfare promoted. It centres on the idea that children are best cared for within their own families while making provision for instances when parents and families do not co-operate with statutory bodies. It received Royal Assent on 16 November 1989.

Dr Carol Homden CBE, Coram CEO, said: "At Coram we work to protect and promote the rights of children in the UK and internationally in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, while the Children Act has been of huge significance in setting out a modern framework for children, the responsibilities of their parents and the role of the state. 

And the reason to remain vigilant in all aspects of safeguarding

1. Three men have been arrested amid allegations that staff at two care homes were victims of modern day slavery.

Gwent Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA) carried out warrants at Danygraig Nursing Home in Newport and Ashville Residential Care Home in Brithdir on Thursday morning. 

Two Newport men, aged 53 and 64 and a third from Surrey, 43, are in custody. 

A reception centre for potential victims has been set up. 

Det Ch Supt Nicky Brain said: "The offences that are being investigated are serious...

"We would like to reassure [residents and their families] that this investigation is not as a result of any concerns raised regarding crimes committed against people residing in these homes."

Gwent Police said officers from its human trafficking team were working with partner agencies including the British Red Cross, the Salvation Army and New Pathways.

In a joint statement, Newport council and Caerphilly council said they were working with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Care Inspectorate Wales to "ensure a continuation of care".

"We appreciate families may be concerned as a result of today's events but we would like to reassure them that their loved ones are safe and their well-being is our priority," it continued. 

Modern slavery is defined as the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of children, women or men through the use of force, coercion, abuse of vulnerability, deception or other means for the purpose of exploitation. 

It is a crime under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

2. A woman has admitted four child sexual abuse charges including live-streaming footage of herself sexually abusing a young girl over almost three years.

Christine Callaghan, 33, was paid £2,285 by Dean Petley, 30, to carry out the abuse over Skype.

Callaghan admitted four charges at Isleworth Crown Court.

Petley, an automotive engineer, admitted 11 charges last month and was jailed at the same hearing yesterday for eight years.

National Crime Agency officers discovered the duo's offending through an investigation into Jodie Little, 30, who was jailed for 12 years and four months in August for sexually abusing children online.

In July last year the NCA became aware of Little sexually abusing children under the online names 'Devil Bitch 666' and 'DomTabooSlut' on an adult services website from her home in northern Cyprus.

She admitted nine offences. She was convicted of eight using Section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 - legislation designed to prosecute British nationals in the UK for crimes committed abroad.

The investigation into Little generated new leads.

In October last year Petley, of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, was arrested after being identified as one of Little's customers.

Online chat extracted from Little's devices showed he had asked her to perform sex acts in front of young children and that he paid her £750 from January 2017 to February 2018  to see her sexually abuse two victims.

Little, originally from Huddersfield, sent Petley 10 electronic files, one of which showed her sexually abusing a very young girl and talking graphically about the child being raped.

He was rearrested in May this year after further evidence was found on an encrypted hard drive at his home.

It contained screenshots of conversations with Callaghan, of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, over two years and full facial images of her abusing the girl with a small window of Petley watching it.

NCA officers discovered evidence of Callaghan discussing what she would do for money and of Petley instructing her how to abuse the victim.

The hard drive also contained a video almost 10 minutes long of Callaghan abusing the young girl. Screenshots showed that on at least 10 different dates over three years, 2016 to 2018, she performed penetrative sexual activity in front of the victim and also sexually abused her.

Five indecent images of children were also found on the drive.

3. A bank worker who stole more than £200,000 from the accounts of 31 "vulnerable" customers has been jailed. Sheraz Khan obtained customers' security details to take the money in the two months he worked for the bank in 2016.Attempts to transfer a further £285,000 were thwarted by detectives. The 32-year-old was jailed for four-and-a-half years at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court after admitting fraud by abuse of position. He had been working as a customer service advisor between September and November in 2016, the court heard. He would often speak to "elderly and vulnerable" customers who wanted assistance transferring money from their account. Khan, of Ardern Road, Crumpsall, would then pass on their security details to other fraudsters who would call into the same bank, which has not been named, pretending to be genuine customers. The bank's fraud investigators tipped off the police and arrested Khan in January 2017.All customer losses were fully refunded by the bank, Greater Manchester Police said. Officers have not revealed which bank he was employed by. Sgt Andy Devonshire said: "This was a meticulous and fraudulent offence from a man who abused his job role and the trust and responsibility that came with it."In light of this incident we would like to warn members of the public not to give out their four-digit PIN in any circumstance."

4. The Guardian published an article by Robert Booth Social Affairs Correspondent who wrote:

"Witchcraft and black magic are increasingly factors in the abuse of children, councils have warned, with official data showing child protection cases based on faith or belief are up by a third in the last year in England to almost 2,000.

Lancashire, Bradford and Leeds recorded the highest number of cases in 2018/19 but social workers across the country logged increasing numbers of incidents on the previous year including 71 in Nottingham, 35 in Bristol and 34 in Southwark.

It means councils are now dealing with the equivalent of 38 such cases a week, said the Local Government Association, which is calling for more resources to tackle the problem. Cases based on faith or belief include abuse under the guise of witchcraft, treating spirit possession and through black magic. The data, Characteristics of children in need: 2018 to 2019, published by the Office for National Statistics, was received by campaigners as evidence that social workers are getting better at identifying often hidden and culturally complex factors in abuse.

But there was also alarm that the numbers are rising so long after the high profile deaths of Victoria Climbié, eight, who was killed as a result of ritual abuse by her guardian in 2000, Khyra Ishaq, seven, who was starved to death in 2008 in Birmingham by her mother and her partner who had a strong belief in spirits and Kristy Bamu, 15, in 2010 killed by his sister and her partner in an exorcism in their east London flat.

The data also showed the number of children identified by councils through a social work assessment as either having or being at risk of female genital mutilation has reached a record high - with 1,000 such cases in 2018/19, up 6% on the previous year.

"Rising cases of FGM and child abuse linked to faith or belief are extremely worrying and are destroying the lives of children and young people in communities across the country," said Cllr Anita Lower, the Local Government Association's lead on FGM. "Social workers have become better at identifying the signs of FGM and belief-related abuse, but the true incidence rate is likely to be higher as these crimes are under-reported."

Mor Dioum, director of the Victoria Climbié Foundation, a charity campaigning for improvements in child protection policies, said: "It is encouraging to see practitioners identifying harmful practices that can lead to serious injuries or child deaths. However, we need further examination of census data to understand the prevalence of these abuses, and to effectively engage with communities if we are to prevent child abuse linked to faith or belief, including the eventual eradication of FGM."

The Metropolitan police stressed that only a minority of people who believe in witchcraft or spirit possession go on to abuse children. In a briefing it said belief in evil spirits that can "possess" children is often accompanied by a belief that a possessed child can infect others through sharing food, or simply being in their presence. Rebelliousness, nightmares or falling ill can be taken as symptoms of "possession" while sometimes children are scape goated for financial difficulties, divorce, infidelity, illness or death."

5. A registered sex offender who raped a 76-year-old woman as she walked her dog has been jailed.

Glenroy Barnes, 27, was jailed for 12 years and nine months with an extended five-year licence for the rape and assault by penetration of the female victim at Warwick Crown Court (Wednesday 20 November 2019).

Barnes had pleaded guilty to the two offences before the trial, although he entered not guilty pleas at the first hearing.

The victim encountered Barnes who was also walking his dog in a village in Warwickshire and he tried to engage her in conversation.

Barnes then pulled the victim into a ditch and forced her to perform oral sex and then further sexually assaulted her.

Kanwal Juss of the CPS, said "These offences have traumatised the 76-year-old victim and while the evidence against Barnes was overwhelming, he chose to plead not guilty until a few days before the trial causing further distress to the victim and her family.

6. A martial arts teacher has been jailed for three years after admitting online child sexual abuse offences and refusing to hand over the pass code to his phone.

Aron Stacey, 38, of Accrington, East Lancashire, swapped child abuse images and videos with an Israeli man in an online photo sharing website and they discussed child abuse together.

Stacey, who ran Aztec Martial Arts in Accrington, was arrested in September 2017.

Safeguarding checks were made where Stacey held his martial arts classes and no complaints or disclosures were made by his students who included children. There was no evidence that Stacey had committed other offences.

Investigators found indecent images on his Asus laptop and Samsung mobile phone, and the majority of images were linked to a Skype account with the username 'aztecmartialarts' which had Stacey's photograph on it.

Earlier this month at Preston Crown Court, Stacey admitted making 11 category A (the most severe) images of children, possessing one category B image, possessing 27 category C images, distributing one category A image, and possessing extreme pornography portraying sexual intercourse with an animal.

He also admitted failing to disclose the pass code to his phone.

Stacey made no comment to the majority of questions in interview with NCA officers.

But he claimed his laptop was bought second hand though he did not explain where from.

National Crime Agency  (NCA)  investigators got into his phone to discover an added layer of encryption.

Stacey repeatedly refused to share his password.

NCA operations manager Hazel Stewart said: ."Offenders cannot hide behind encryption and evade justice.

"Behind every sexual abuse image is a child whose life has been utterly devastated and men like Stacey are perpetuating that suffering. Their horrible interest fuels the market in child sexual abuse.

"UK referrals of child sexual abuse material are rocketing. They are up from 43,072 in 2016 to 113,948 in 2018.

"We and UK police arrest around 500 child sex offenders a month and safeguard about 700 children a month."

Anyone concerned about child safety should visit the Thinkuknow website (thinkuknow.co.uk). Thinkuknow is an education programme and aims to inform children and young people about the risks of sexual abuse and exploitation both online and offline, and educate them about reducing risks.

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.

The most recent estimates from the NCA have identified at least 181,000 people involved in serious and organised crime in the UK - more than twice the strength of the regular British Army. 

7. A Merseyside primary school teacher has been convicted of abusing his position and inappropriately touching his pupils over a number of years.

Following a long trial at Liverpool Crown Court, Charles Ellis, 60, has today (21 November 2019) been found guilty of ten counts of sexual assaulting young girls between the ages of 7 to 10. He was acquitted of a further count.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that he abused his position as a teacher, by inappropriately touching the girls underneath their clothes.

The offending generally took place when the pupil was with Mr Ellis at his desk or on their own. Several pupils were assaulted on a number of occasions over a period of eight years.

The offending followed a similar pattern and left the pupils feeling confused and uncomfortable.

The offending came to light when some of the children told their parents about it. Another member of staff also raised her concerns after she had witnessed Mr Ellis in situations with pupils that seemed inappropriate.

And Finally:

Brand new educational resources for schools and educators to help them celebrate Safer Internet Day 2020

Free to download and view, the brand new resources are tailor made by educational experts to be engaging and adaptable for different age groups between 3 and 18. There is also guidance for educators, as well as resources for parents and carers.

In the UK, Safer Internet Day 2020 (celebrated on the 11th February 2020) will encourage young people to explore how they manage their identity online, and to think about how the internet shapes how they view themselves and others. It will look at whether the internet allows young people to experiment and express themselves, or if they feel limited in who they can be online, and how offline stereotypes and discrimination are challenged or reinforced online. By opening up conversations around online identity, the day aims to inspire young people to support each other in being who they want to be, to celebrate difference, and help work towards creating a truly inclusive internet.

Tailored for each key stage, the educational resources include lesson plans, assemblies, posters, films, and other quick activities to engage young people in Safer Internet Day.  These activities are practical, easy to organise, and transferrable to any educational setting - classroom or otherwise.

There are four education packs designed for use with young people, a pack for parents and carers, and a pack to support educators delivering these sessions. All of the resources are available in English and Welsh, and have their own age appropriate content and theme. There are also films to help provoke discussions with young people and with parents.

If you would like to know more about SAFE please don't hesitate to contact us

Regards

The SAFE Team
01379-871091

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