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7.1 Persons Identified as Posing a Risk to Children

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and some amendments were made in February 2017, in particular regarding the Admission to Psychiatric or Children's Hospital (see Section 5, Admission to Psychiatric or Children's Hospital); it is no longer required for the Investigations Support Unit to be involved if there are concerns regarding sexual exploitation in this context.


Contents

  1. Guidance on Relevant Offences
  2. Assessing Risk
  3. Information Sharing
  4. Action to Safeguard
  5. Admission to Psychiatric or Children's Hospital
  6. Other Processes and Mechanisms


1. Guidance on Relevant Offences

The terms 'Schedule One Offender' and 'Schedule One Offence' have been commonly used for anyone convicted of an offence against a child listed in Schedule One of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. However, a conviction for an offence in Schedule One does not trigger any statutory requirement in relation to child protection issues. An inclusion on the Schedule was determined solely by the age of the victim and offence for which the offender was sentenced, and not by an assessment of future risk of harm to children.

Therefore the term Schedule One Offender is no longer used and it has been replaced with 'Risk to Children'. This clearly indicates that the person has been identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, of harm to children. Obviously offending history is an important factor in such assessments but it is not the only one.

Home Office Guidance ('Guidance on offences against Children', Home Office Circular 16/2005) explains how those who present a risk to children should be identified. The circular explains that the present method of automatically identifying as a risk to children an offender who has been convicted of a Schedule One offence fails to focus on those who continue to present a risk.

The Home office Circular includes a List of Offences (see List of Relevant Offences Procedure) which all agencies can use to identify “a person identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, to children”. The List should operate as a trigger to a further assessment to determine if an offender should be regarded as presenting a continuing risk of harm to children.

Please note, however, the following important points:

  • The attached list carries with it no statutory requirements. It is simply a list of the major offences that might be committed against children. Schedule One of the Children and Young Persons Act has not actually been repealed or amended;
  • It is not an exhaustive list. There are also other types of offences where the child may be an intended victim but the primary offence is not a child specific offence (e.g. telecommunications offences - obscene text messages; harassment etc.). In addition, new offences may be created by new legislation. Practitioners need to exercise their professional judgement in all instances;
  • Some of the offences may only indicate a risk to children in certain circumstances. Again, practitioners need to exercise their professional judgement in these instances;
  • Not all convicted/cautioned individuals will pose a risk to children. Also there will be cases where a person without a conviction may pose a risk to children;
  • The list includes both current and repealed offences. This is due to the fact that many offenders will have been convicted prior to the introduction of legislation, such as the Sexual Offences Act 2003.


2. Assessing Risk

Risk is categorised by reference to the potential subject of the harm. The potential subjects may be children, who may be vulnerable to harm of various kinds, including violent or sexual behaviour, emotional harm or neglect.

In this context MAPPA (the multi-agency public protection arrangements) works closely with Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships to ensure the best local joint arrangements can be made for any individual child.

The conclusion that an individual poses a 'risk to children' should be based on all available information including that provided by relevant agencies, such as assessments of risk made by probation, police, health, whether individually or via MAPPA.

Once an individual has been identified as presenting a risk to children, agencies have a responsibility to work collaboratively to monitor and manage the risk of harm to others.

For further information, see Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Procedure.

Where an individual is assessed as posing a risk to children, and is known to, or suspected to, have contact with a child or children, an assessment should be made of the risk posed. As part of this, consideration should be given to the making of enquiries under these procedures to determine whether any protective action should be taken in relation to the children concerned. The individual should be informed that a Section 47 Enquiry will be undertaken. Any other carer(s) of the children concerned should also be informed.

The purpose of the Section 47 Enquiry is:

  • To check if the information held about the offence/alleged offence is correct;
  • To assess the risk to those and other children;
  • To give any non-abusing carer an opportunity to demonstrate that they will protect the children concerned.

Only an analysis of the context and seriousness of the offence(s) linked to an analysis of the current circumstances will enable professionals to make a valid assessment of risk.

It must be noted that professionals can only look at the known facts. Speculation as to the reasons and circumstances of any plea, are generally unsafe. Similarly, reliance upon the type of offence for which someone is convicted is not necessarily a reliable indicator of its seriousness.

When undertaking an assessment it is important to consider a number of factors. These will include:

  • The date of the offence;
  • The age of the perpetrator in relation to the victim;
  • The type of offence;
  • The degree of coercive or threatening behaviour;
  • The pattern of offending;
  • The circumstances of the offence;
  • Any subsequent assessments of risk;
  • The offender's attitude to the offence.


3. Information Sharing

Information about allegations, criminal convictions, cautions or charges should be shared with any other carer of the children concerned. The decision to share information about convictions, allegations or current charges should be subject to legal advice. Please also see Information Sharing Procedure.


4. Action to Safeguard

In some cases legal action may need to be taken immediately. Otherwise, all children living with or having contact with an individual assessed as posing a risk to children should be subject to a Child Protection Conference.

In all such cases the conference should consider the need for a Child Protection Plan. All adults with Parental Responsibility for the children concerned will be invited to the Child Protection Conference, unless there are specific reasons for excluding them.

Any exceptions to this procedure must be approved by the responsible senior manager. Exceptions will be few and may include:

  • Cases of physical assault where the victim and perpetrator were a similar age;
  • Cases where there has been a previous satisfactory Risk Assessment;
  • Cases where children have visiting contact supervised by a non-abusing carer whose belief-stance has been assessed.


5. Admission to Psychiatric or Children's Hospital

Where it is known by any agency that an individual who may pose a risk to children has been or may be admitted to a Psychiatric or Children's Hospital, information about the potential risk will be shared with the medical staff responsible for the safety of child patients and child visitors to the hospital.

Where there is a specific risk in relation to an individual who has been convicted, charged or is under investigation for a serious offence, a Strategy Meeting between the police, the Safeguarding and Reviewing Unit, Children's Social Care, the nurse in charge and the doctor responsible for the proposed admission, should take place. The Strategy Meeting will share information about the likely risk posed by the individual. If the admission is to proceed or the patient is to remain in the hospital, the Strategy Meeting will draw up a risk management plan.


6. Other Processes and Mechanisms

6.1 Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)

A MARAC is a multi-agency meeting, which has the safety of high risk victims of domestic abuse as its focus. The MARAC is a process involving the participation of all the key statutory and voluntary agencies who might be involved in supporting victims of domestic abuse. The objective of the MARAC is to share information and establish a simple multi-agency action plan to support the victim and make links with other public protection procedures, particularly safeguarding children, Adults at Risk and the management of offenders.

The MARAC meeting is a part of a wider process which hinges on the early involvement and support from an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) and continued specialist case management, both before and after the meeting. The MARAC should combine the best of both specialist supports, together with the co-ordination of generic agencies whose resources and involvement will be needed to keep victims and their children safe.

Where an offender is being managed at MAPPA level 2 or level 3, the MAPP meeting should take the lead, as the MAPPA is a statutory set of arrangements and takes precedence over MARAC.

6.2 The Vetting and Barring Scheme

The Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) aims to ensure that unsuitable people do not work with children, whether in paid employment or on a voluntary basis. The scheme comprises:

  • Two barred lists maintained by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). One list comprises persons barred from working with children and the other is for persons barred with working with Adults at Risk;
  • A register of those wishing to work with vulnerable groups.

Safeguarding regulations introduced in October 2009 continue to apply. These include:

  • A person who is barred from working with children or Adults at Risk will be breaking the law if they work or volunteer, or try to work or volunteer with those groups;
  • An organisation which knowingly employs someone who is barred to work with those groups will also be breaking the law;
  • If your organisation works with children or Adults at Risk and you dismiss a member of staff or a volunteer because they have harmed a child or adult at risk, or you would have done so if they had not left, you must tell the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

6.3 Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

The Disclosure and Barring Service is an executive agency of the Home Office. The DBS's Disclosure Service aims to help employers make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain types of work. These can be standard or enhanced disclosure depending on the duties of a particular position or job. In addition to information about a person's criminal record, an enhanced disclosure contain details of whether a person is registered with DBS or barred from working with children; this is not so with a standard disclosure.

6.4 Offending Behaviour Schemes

Rehabilitation of offenders is the best guarantee of long-term public protection. A range of independently accredited treatment programme's, which have been developed or commissioned by Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service, have been tried and tested at national level.

6.5 The Sex Offenders Register

The notification requirements of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (known as the Sex Offenders Register) are an automatic requirement on offenders, including young people, who have offended and who receive a conviction or caution for certain sexual offences.

The notification requirements are intended to ensure that the police are informed of the whereabouts of offenders in the community. The notification requirements do not bar offenders from certain types of employment or from being alone with children. They must inform the police of certain personal details within clear time-scales, of changes in these details and reconfirm these details every twelve months. The length of time they remain under these arrangements depends on whether convicted or cautioned and the sentence that they received; failure to comply is a criminal offence.

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