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DfE Release KCSIE 2020 Consultation

The DfE has released a consultation on the changes it is proposing to make to ‘Keeping children safe in education’ for 2020. The DfE aims to release the updated guidance for September 2020. 

The DfE advise:

"We are consulting on a wide variety of proposed changes to KCSIE. The aim is to help schools and colleges to better understand what they are required to do by law and what we strongly advise they should do in order to meet their safeguarding responsibilities.

Many of the proposed changes are technical in nature and are intended to improve the clarity of the guidance and ensure consistency throughout. A copy of the draft guidance is included and a full list of changes we are proposing to make is included at Annex G of this guidance"

To make sure that your views are heard, check the link HERE

As always, ISS will update all relevant policies, procedures and training at the point of update with those in the educaiton sector receiving notifications of amendments.

If there is anything that you find particularly hair-raising, please let us know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  so we can incorporate views into our feedback.

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Inadequate responses to child sexual abuse (CSA) within family environments by agencies are leaving children repeatedly victimised and unsupported and perpetrators unidentified, inspectors have warned in a report today.

Social workers and other professionals lack the skills they need to identify perpetrators and support disclosure by children, due to low confidence and a lack of adequate training, it found.

The problems were driven by a lack of local and national strategies to tackle the problem, the greater priority given to child sexual exploitation (CSE) over CSA and an approach that was police-led, which led to an insufficient focus on the child.

Following the report – issued by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission and the police and probation inspectorates and based on field work from six areas – the government said it would publish a national strategy on tackling CSA.

‘Unseen and unheard’

“As it stands, children abused in the home are going unseen and unheard because agencies simply aren’t capable of keeping them safe,” said Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman. “The lack of national and local focus on this issue is deeply concerning and must be addressed.”

The report identifies many of the issues raised in an inquiry by the Children’s Commissioner for England in 2015. This found that two-thirds of all child sexual abuse took place within the family environment but that just an estimated one in eight victims of CSA came to the attention of statutory authorities, due to a disclosure-led approach from professionals and considerable barriers to children disclosing.

Responding to today’s report, commissioner Anne Longfield said: “It was clear then that many professionals working with children, and the system, were ill-equipped to identify and act on the signs of abuse. Five years later, amid rising costs children’s social care and with less spent on early intervention, many children are still being let down badly.”

Today’s report used the commissioner’s definition of CSA in the family environment as that perpetrated or facilitated by a family member or someone otherwise linked to the family context.

Identification problems

The report noted the challenges for professionals – and parents – of identifying CSA, including absent or inconclusive physical evidence, the fact that signs of abuse, such as abdominal pain, can be indicators of certain medical conditions, the rarity of verbal disclosure and children’s communication of abuse through behaviours, demeanour or other signals.

However, inspectors found that disclosures, when they did occur, were “often not recognised or [were] misunderstood, dismissed or ignored”, a problem which afflicted groups including disabled children, boys and children from some ethnic minority groups in particular.

To enable disclosure, children needed access to safe adults with the skills to listen and the opportunity to confidentially explore the consequences of dislosure.

But practitioners lacked confidence in identifying the signs of CSA, which often led social workers and other professionals to focus on other types of harm, such as emotional harm or neglect, which they felt more confident assessing risk for. This was then recorded on child protection or child in need plans, meaning the focus of multi-agency action was not on sexual abuse.

Focus on criminal justice, not the child

This problem was compounded by a response to CSA that was too often police-led and focused on whether a criminal offence had taken place, rather than on the child.

As a result, where there was a lack of hard evidence in relation to CSA, professionals did not always feel confident to address it head on with the family, even where there were significant indicators that a child had suffered abuse.

Inspectors said social workers needed to be confident enough to challenge the police, saying that it was vital that agencies did not retreat when there was not enough evidence to secure a conviction.

Professionals also did not have a good enough understanding of perpetrators’ methods and motivations, and the signs that someone may be an abuser.

For example, they did not understand well enough the relationship between viewing child abuse images and committing abuse.

Need for more training

Inspectors said there was a need for better training, support and supervision for all professionals involved in tackling CSA. However, they found evidence that some local authorities did not have access to good-quality Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) training, meaning social workers were less aware of how special measures could be used to support children in giving evidence of their abuse.

This also left the police, who are ABE-trained, as the sole decision makers as to how an investigation should be carried out in the child’s best interests.

Also, the report found that professionals believed there had been a shift in the emphasis of training towards child sexual exploitation that had “overshadowed risks from familial sexual abuse”.

Ian Dean, director of the Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse, said: “This report highlights the acute need for better and more training and support for everyone working with children who have been sexually abused within the family. The CSA Centre is currently working with professionals from across the country to give them the knowledge, confidence and support to be professionally curious and act appropriately in order to protect and support children where there are concerns of sexual abuse, but this report highlights the scale of the challenge in many areas.

“It is clear that far more children are being sexually abused and harmed than we are currently identifying or safeguarding; and children are most at risk in their own family. Identifying and responding to concerns of child sexual abuse will always be challenging, but children should not bear the burden of protecting themselves and stopping their abuse.”

National strategy pledged

Following the launch of the report, a government spokesperson said: “We are taking urgent action to tackle these crimes and will soon be publishing a first of its kind national strategy to tackle child sexual abuse, better support victims and improve collaboration between the government, agencies and law enforcement.

“Alongside work to better safeguard children new sentencing laws will see serious sexual offenders spending longer behind bars and we are recruiting 20,000 extra police officers to bring more abusers to justice.”

Association of Directors of Children’s Services president Rachel Dickinson said any strategy needed to focus on children who faced additional barriers to disclosure, including boys, disabled children and those from specific ethnic minority groups.

She added: “Our ultimate goal must be to prevent child abuse from taking place in the first place. It’s clear from the report that more data and research is needed to better understand the scale and prevalence of child sexual abuse within the family environment as is research on potential perpetrators. Better information sharing between agencies including with health, probation and school nursing staff, who often hold key information and insights, can only be a good thing for children and families.

“Awareness of child sexual exploitation has developed immeasurably over the past several years, in part because it has been talked about so much. There are future opportunities for a specific focus on child sexual abuse in the family environment through the training of social workers and increasing awareness amongst pupils via Relationships and Sex Education in schools.  Beyond all this, we need to urgently tackle the social, cultural and moral issues at the root of this abuse so that all children can lead safe and happy childhoods.”

Credit: Mithran Samuel, Community Care

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Government Launches Tool for Handling Safeguarding Allegations in a Charity

In a bid to strengthen the charity sector’s safeguarding prowess, the government has released a tool to support how to respond to safeguarding allegations in England.

The tool can be found here: https://safeguarding.culture.gov.uk/

It outlines:

“This tool is for charities in England to handle a safeguarding allegation or concern about a person in the charity. A person in the charity includes employees, volunteers or any other third party working with the charity. 

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or adult at risk, please follow the links in the further support and guidance section of the home page.

This guide is not legal advice. If you need legal assistance, you should speak with a legal advisor.

When you've been told something:

  • Action must be taken no matter if the information you received is about a concern that is non-recent or from an anonymous source.
  • Open and ongoing dialogue with your local council's Children's Social Care or Adult Social Care team should be a priority. They can advise and guide you throughout. Please contact them as you should take action promptly.
  • Always make sure the person speaking up feels they’re being listened to and supported. 
  • Don’t promise to keep information confidential between you and them. Refer to and follow your charity's policy and procedures to make sure information is only shared with people who need and have the right to know.
  • If there is an immediate risk of harm then action should be taken to put safeguarding measures in place, for example the suspension of the individual that this concerns. Those with responsibility for human resources in your organisation should be involved in this decision, where available”

A flurry of criticism quickly emerged from those in the statutory sector around the lack of mention of the statutory LADO role.  It’s not entirely clear why such a tool would omit this role given their importance

Needless to say, the charitable sector has a considerable need for access to good quality safeguarding solutions which is why many of them have found our community (which LADO contacts included on all policies!)

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More than 1,000 children have been linked to county lines drug gangs following a three-week crackdown by authorities.

The National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC) said the children were among more than 2,400 vulnerable children protected in October 2018, January and May this year.

Around 131 referrals were made to the National Referral Mechanism, which identifies possible victims of human trafficking.

A total of 1,882 arrests were made, 403 drugs lines disrupted, £182,000 worth of drugs seized and 391 weapons - including 38 firearms - were found during the three week intensified crackdown.

The Home Office NCLCC was set up in a bid to target gangs exploiting children to sell drugs throug the so-called county-lines.

The term refers to the mobile phone lines dedicated to taking orders from drug users, which are operated by gangs from large cities who have expanded into smaller towns.

Young and vulnerable people often have their homes made into bases where drugs are sold from and turned into drug dens.

NPCC lead for county lines, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball, said: “Since the NCLCC was set up we have made great strides in tackling and dismantling cruel county lines gangs and protecting the vulnerable people exploited by them.

“The large number of arrests and weapons seized is testament to the hard work and dedication of the centre and of officers across the country who work tirelessly to pursue and prosecute those involved.”

The NCA predict there are around 2,000 "deal lines" in operation.

Nikki Holland, the NCA’s county lines lead and director of investigations, said: “Thanks to the dedication of law enforcement officers over the past year since the centre launched, we have been able to target county lines networks in a co-ordinated way like never before – taking huge numbers of drugs and weapons off the streets and safeguarding those most vulnerable.”

Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire Kit Malthouse added: “County lines has a devastating impact on our communities and we are working relentlessly to disrupt these gangs and put an end to the exploitation of children and vulnerable adults.”

Credit: ITV

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Forty children as young as 14 recruited to deal drugs inside school

A county lines drug gang forced 40 children to deal cannabis and cocaine at a single school.

The teens, some as young as 14, had been supplied with drugs and dealing kits including deal bags and scales. 

Police say grown-up dealers had a network of 40 pupils dealing at the school which has just over 1,200 pupils - meaning one in thirty was possibly selling drugs.

It is suspected that girls as young as 14 at Kingsdown School in Swindon, Wiltshire, have been pestered for sex in exchange for cocaine.

And the dawn police raid yesterday - on the eve of GCSE results - revealed the extent of the teens coerced into the operation.

Wiltshire Police arrested a 27-year-old man during the raid. He has since been released under investigation.

Sgt Nathan Perry, who planned the 7am raid, said: "We found the person we're looking for, we've managed to safeguard the children who were at risk and we've found drugs.

"We all know about county lines and the risks associated with that.

"The difficulty with this type of drugs operation is that it's specifically targeting very young children in order to get them to deal drugs.

"Some of the information we've been passed is that children are not only being coerced into this activity, but they're also being physically threatened.

"If they go to police or teachers they'll be harmed," he added. 

Police were said to have been alerted to the gang at Kingsdown School.

A pair of older teen boys, both 16, are believed to have been supplying a network of up to 40 children in their mid-teens at the Swindon school.

The 27-year-old was arrested during the morning raid on suspicion of possession of class B drugs with intent to supply and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The raid came as Swindon police focused their sights on modern slavery.

Nationally, police have increasingly turned to modern slavery laws to target drug dealers who force children and vulnerable adults to peddle their product.

Sgt Perry said those convicted could expect sentences of up to 15 years imprisonment.

"You've got children being exploited and young kids being forced to run the drugs. We will take it seriously," he said.

"The sheer nature of the exploitation of these young people is unacceptable.

"If we don't do something to stop that they're potentially going to be at risk for the rest of their lives.

 
"They need that positive engagement and we're not going to be able to do that until we remove their handlers, for want of a better word."
 
If children start becoming more withdrawn, secretive about their possessions and start acquiring cash and expensive clothes without explanation, it could be a sign they are being exploited by the gangs.
 
Article reported by Tom Seaward for the Mirror.
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