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The Report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

On 20 October 2022, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published its final statutory Report, which was presented to Parliament pursuant to section 26 of the Inquiries Act 2005. In accordance with the Inquiry's Terms of Reference, the Report sets out the main findings about the extent to which state and non-state institutions failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation and makes recommendations for reform. The Report is available in English and Welsh, in a number of accessible formats.

For more details click HERE

The full report can be found HERE

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Understanding the Appropriate Adult Expectation

Dai Durbridge of Browne Jacobson LLP has published some advice on the Appropriate Adult expectations in schools following the 'Child Q' CSPR and inclusion of this expecation in KCSIE 2022. We thought it may be helpful to share:  

One of three significant changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 is a new expectation that Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) should be aware of the requirement for children to have an Appropriate Adult. The guidance says nothing more than that, but the DfE has updated the Searching, Screening and Confiscation Advice Searching, Screening and Confiscation (publishing.service.gov.uk) to include a new section on strip searches. In this briefing I explain how to meet this new requirement and help you understand what steps you need to take when involving the police in pupil searches.

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 made a simple but impactful change to Annex C — adding an expectation for DSLs to be aware of the requirement for children to have an Appropriate Adult present. The new paragraphs 35-41 of the Search, Screening and Confiscation Advice Searching, Screening and Confiscation (publishing.service.gov.uk) put flesh on those bones. We all know why this requirement has been added to guidance — the strip searching of Child Q and other similar events that have been publicised since.

This is what schools now need to do:

Less invasive search methods: This goes without saying, but a strip search is a last resort. Before involving the police, schools should ensure other, less intrusive methods of search have been considered and, where appropriate, carried out.

Balance risk: Before bringing in the police, the Advice Searching, Screening and Confiscation (publishing.service.gov.uk) says that schools should assess and balance the risk of a potential strip search on the pupil’s mental and physical wellbeing and the risk of not recovering the suspected item. In carrying out this risk assessment, I suggest there are three issues to consider:

  • the seriousness of the item believed to be concealed by the pupil; and
  • the reason for and the strength of that belief; and
  • the impact you believe the search will have on that pupil

I also recommend that you document how you reach this decision.

Remember, once you have determined that police assistance is needed, they call the shots. If they determine that a strip search is necessary, then one will take place. The role of school staff is to then advocate for the safety and wellbeing of the pupil.

Staff attendance: Schools retain a duty of care towards the pupil during any level of police search. There is no requirement for an appropriate adult to be present for a search that only requires the removal of outer clothing, but it would be sensible for schools to determine whether staff should be present at all searches. My advice is that a staff member should be present at all police searches as this will reassure parents that an independent adult was in attendance and affords the staff member the opportunity to support the pupil if needed.

Informing parents: The school should always inform parents once a strip search has taken place and, preferably, they should be informed in advance, even if the parent is not acting as the appropriate adult. Where a parent wants to be the appropriate adult, the school should facilitate this where possible.

The search: Strip searches are not every day, regular occurrences; they should take place only if they are necessary to remove an item related to a criminal offence, and — importantly — the police officer reasonably considers the pupil might have concealed such an item. The law is prescriptive on who must and must not be present and who should carry out the checks. Rather than repeat the advice here, take a look at paragraphs 38-40 of the Advice Searching, Screening and Confiscation (publishing.service.gov.uk).

Being the appropriate adult: Any staff member acting as an appropriate adult must understand the rules around strip searches. This means having a good working knowledge of the Advice Searching, Screening and Confiscation (publishing.service.gov.uk), especially paragraphs 38-40. There is no restriction on which members of staff can act as an appropriate adult, though most schools are likely to expect the DSL and wider safeguarding team to do it.

The appropriate adult should be the same sex as the pupil being searched, although the pupil can request an appropriate adult who is not of the same sex. The pupil can also determine that an appropriate adult will not be present during the search. To do so, the pupil must expressly state that preference in the presence of the appropriate adult and the appropriate adult must agree. If the appropriate adult does not agree, then they should stay present for the search.

If a pupil does request the appropriate adult not be present, I recommend that the appropriate adult should consider what they believe is in the best interests of the pupil and discuss the issue with the pupil to make sure they understand the position they are in, the role of the appropriate adult and the fact that a different appropriate adult could be present if preferred. The appropriate adult should record the pupil’s decision in writing and sign it.

After the search: Whether a suspected item is found or not, the pupil will require support after a strip search. If an item is found, police involvement will likely continue, and the school should consider the safeguarding needs of the pupil. Where no concealed item is found, the school should still focus on the safeguarding and wellbeing of the pupil, considering why the search was deemed necessary and ensuring the pupil has the opportunity to express their views about the search and events leading up to it.

Keep a record: The Advice Searching, Screening and Confiscation (publishing.service.gov.uk) says that schools should keep records of strip searches and should monitor them for any trends that emerge. I suggest taking this one step further by keeping a record of all searches carried out by the police on school premises and carrying out regular analysis on those records to identify trends, address those trends and to plan preventative measures.

If you haven’t already, the next step is it determine who will act as appropriate adults in your school and ensure they have a good understanding of the Advice Searching, Screening and Confiscation (publishing.service.gov.uk) and the confidence to discharge the duty of an appropriate adult.

Credit: https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=6f9c6520-7ce5-4634-a88c-bb0200074aa5

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National review into the murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson

The National Review into the murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson has been published.

This review sets out recommendations and findings for national government and local safeguarding partners to protect children at risk of serious harm.

It examines the circumstances leading up to the deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson and considers whether their murders reflect wider national issues in child protection.

Learning from the review will impact nationally on the child protection system and include:

Recommendation 1: A new expert-led, multi-agency model for child protection investigation, planning, intervention, and review.

Recommendation 2: Establishing National Multi-Agency Practice Standards for Child Protection.

Recommendation 3: Strengthening the local Safeguarding Partners to ensure proper co-ordination and involvement of all agencies.

Recommendation 4: Changes to multi-agency inspection to better understand local performance and drive improvement.

Recommendation 5: A new role for the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel in driving practice improvement in Safeguarding Partners.

Recommendation 6: A sharper performance focus and better co-ordination of child protection policy in central Government.

Recommendation 7: Using the potential of data to help professionals protect children.

Recommendation 8: Specific practice improvements in relation to domestic abuse.

 

For further details and to see the report in full, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-review-into-the-murders-of-arthur-labinjo-hughes-and-star-hobson

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Free Primary School Grooming Resource

Alright Charlie – CSE Primary School Resource - free video, workbook and downloads available for professionals and young people

'Alright Charlie’ is a preventative resource pack that addresses child sexual exploitation (CSE) and grooming in a way that is age appropriate. A fantastic insight into CSE for both professionals and young people aimed at Year 5 and 6 and onwards. 

Basis Training, together with the Blast Project supported the development of a gender neutral, age appropriate video resource (Alright Charlie) for raising awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in primary schools.  

Credited: https://basisyorkshire.org.uk/resource/alright-charlie-cse-primary-school-resource/ 

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Youth warnings, reprimands and cautions will no longer be automatically disclosed to employers who require Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificates from 28 November.

The changes, which come as a result of a Supreme Court judgment that found some elements of the existing filtering rules for Standard and Enhanced DBS checks were disproportionate, are intended to make it easier for people with certain convictions to find employment.

The multiple conviction rule will also be removed, meaning that if an individual has more than one conviction, regardless of offence type or time passed, each conviction will be considered against the remaining rules individually, rather than all being automatically disclosed on the certificate.

Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock – a group that campaigns for people with convictions – welcomed the changes, but said they did not go far enough to improve access to work for some people with childhood convictions. 

“The changes coming in on 28 November are a crucial first step towards achieving a fair system that takes a more balanced approach towards disclosing criminal records,” he said. “However, we are still left with a criminal records system where many people with old and minor criminal records are shut out of jobs that they are qualified to do.

“We found that over a five-year period, 380,000 checks contained childhood convictions, with 2,795 checks including convictions from children aged just ten. Many of these childhood convictions will continue to be disclosed despite these changes.

“Reviews by the Law Commission, Justice Select Committee, former Chair of the Youth Justice Board Charlie Taylor and David Lammy MP have all stressed the need to look at the wider disclosure system. The government’s plan for jobs should include a wider review of the criminal records disclosure system to ensure all law-abiding people with criminal records are able to move on into employment and contribute to our economic recovery.”

New DBS guidance advises organisations to update their recruitment processes in light of the changes and check the Ministry of Justice website for which convictions or cautions should be disclosed by job candidates.

It suggests that employers ask job candidates: “Do you have any convictions or cautions (excluding youth cautions, reprimands or warnings) that are not ‘protected’ as defined by the Ministry of Justice?”

It also urged employers to include the following paragraph in their standard job application forms: “The amendments to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (2013 and 2020) provides that when applying for certain jobs and activities, certain convictions and cautions are considered ‘protected’. This means that they do not need to be disclosed to employers, and if they are disclosed, employers cannot take them into account.”

The guidance says: “Employers can only ask an individual to provide details of convictions and cautions that they are legally entitled to know about.

“If an employer takes into account a conviction or caution that would not have been disclosed, they are acting unlawfully under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

“Employers should conduct a case-by-case analysis of any convictions and cautions disclosed and consider how, if at all, they are relevant to the position sought. It would be advisable for the employer to keep records of the reasons for any employment decision (and in particular rejections), including whether any convictions or cautions were taken into account and, if so, why.”

Cedit: Ashley Webber - Personnel Today

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