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1. Identification of Individuals who Pose a Risk to Children

Posing a Risk to Children

People convicted of an offence against a child that was listed in schedule 1 (i.e. sexual offence / violent offence on young people under the age of 18 / kidnap etc) used to be referred to as having ‘Schedule One Status’ – which remained on a person’s offending history for life. Since the new legislation this has now changed to people who ‘pose a risk or a potential risk to children’.

The Home Office have produced interim guidance on which offences would identify an offender who poses a potential risk of harm to children. These offences can be found in Home Office Circular 16/2005. Any individual who commits any of these offences, or any offence where a child was involved, should be regarded as posing a potential risk to harm.

A worker in direct contact with such an individual, or a child where such an individual has a significant level of contact, needs to gain an understanding of how much risk, if any, they pose. Specialist agencies such as the Probation and Prison Service will assess this risk using their assessment tools, e.g.:

  • Offender Assessment System (OASys) – a shared Prison Service and Probation Provider computer based assessment and planning tool designed for use with all offenders;
  • Risk Matrix 2000 – a shared Police, Probation and Prison Service risk assessment tool for offenders who commit sexual and violent offences;
  • ARMS, a more detailed and specific assessment tool shared by Police and Probation for offenders who commit sexual and violent offences;
  • Spousal Assault Risk Assessment (SARA) – risk assessment tool used on domestic violence perpetrators by the Probation Provider and other agencies.

All these tools use a range of static criteria (e.g. age at first offence) and dynamic ones (e.g. level of substance misuse) to reach a judgement on risk. The planning process then looks to manage risk where appropriate and identify which are the key dynamic criteria that can be changed in a positive direction and reduce risk levels.

A worker from another agency should contact the Probation Provider to see if a relevant risk assessment has been undertaken. If not, they will need to form a judgement as to the risk posed on the basis of all information that can be reasonably obtained. This judgement will include evidence of a pattern of behaviour, similarity between the current context and the context of the offence/s, and the presence of any contextual factor such as isolation, stress, or substance misuse. Any evidence of grooming behaviour would immediately increase the assessed level of risk.

In some circumstances, an individual might reasonably be regarded as posing a risk to children without a conviction. Where there have been a number of allegations from unconnected victims, or repeated acquittals, particularly for reasons of legal procedure or where the vulnerability of the victim might reduce their credibility as a witness would be examples. In these circumstances considerable care needs to be exercised but reasonable actions can be taken to protect children. Clear guidance is not possible given the complexity of this area. Workers should consult their line manager and record the assessment made, the evidence on which it is based and any actions agreed.

2. Management of Individuals who Pose a Risk of Harm to Children

Effective arrangement of risk has to be based in inter agency working. A number of agencies have responsibility for the supervision of such individuals. These include the Probation Provider, Prison Service, Youth Offending Teams and the Police. Staff in these agencies should ensure that they communicate all relevant information about the risk they pose, where they live and the children with whom they have contact to the relevant social care agency.

The social care agencies are responsible for assessing the information available to them and responding to protect children as required in line with these procedures.

All agencies have a responsibility to work together in this situation as in any other covered by the current legislation, Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) and these procedures.

3. Other Multi-Agency Arrangements

There are a number of other arrangements that exist alongside the Child Protection process.

3.1 MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements)

Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements National Guidance:

  • Individuals need to have committed an offence covered by the statutory criteria to be subject to MAPPA;
  • Most individuals who have committed such an offence will not be assessed as posing sufficient risk, the nature of which requires either MAPPA Level 2 arrangements (management through the formal co-operation of two or more agencies) or MAPPA Level 3 arrangements (where they are identified as being posing an immediate risk of serious harm and where an unusual level of agency resource is required to manage that risk);
  • Only a small minority of people who pose a risk of harm to children will be covered by MAPPA. Not all MAPPA offenders pose any risk of harm to children;
  • MAPPA will be involved with an individual who presents a risk for as long as it is assessed as being necessary. This may over time involve a number of potential or real victims;
  • MAPPA will not protect an identified victim or potential victim if the risk is posed by anyone other than the person registered under MAPPA.

3.2 MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference)

A MARAC will respond to situations where there is a high risk of harm from domestic violence. It will co-ordinate services from a range of agencies as required by the situation. Child protection will frequently feature as a major element in the risk assessment of any given situation. It therefore provides a good forum to engage a wide range of agencies in protecting children as well as the other victims from domestic violence.

However, MARACs are designed to produce a speedy co-ordination of services to protect victims by maximising their impact. A situation will be assessed and a plan agreed. Implementation of the plan is monitored at the next meeting. The case then leaves the MARAC arena. It seeks to provide a speedy response to a high risk situation but does not provide a service that continues until the safety of the child is ensured.

4. Legal and other Mechanisms for Managing Risk

Where an offender is subject to a community sentence or post release licence, the Probation Provider has a series of powers and responsibilities in managing an individual’s risk. These may need to be enhanced.

Frequently, people who pose a significant risk are not subject to statutory supervision from a criminal court sentence. In these situations, a number of legal mechanisms are available.

The key resources include:

  • Sex Offender Register and Notification Orders;
  • Sexual Harm Prevention Orders and Sexual Risk Orders;
  • Disqualification Orders (disqualified from working with children);
  • Criminal Records check with the Disclosure and Barring Service;
  • Disclosure and Barring Service Barred Lists.

VISOR is a national database of registered sex offenders and other Level 2 and 3 MAPPA offenders some of whom who pose a risk of serious sexual or physical harm to children or others. It is managed by the police, National Probation and HMP services.

5. Civil and Criminal Orders for the Management of Offenders who Pose a Risk to Children

Sex Offender Registration, Sex Offender Restraining Orders and Sex Offender Orders

Orders for Managing Sex Offenders

Notification Order (NO)

A NO Is obtained at criminal court alongside a conviction for qualifying sexual offences. This puts people on the Sex Offender Register in the United Kingdom. It is also a method of getting sex offenders who offend abroad on the register in this country – if they come to live here. This order enforces them to register as a sex offender. Length of notification is dependent on the period of sentence – anyone who receives a custodial sentence of 30 months or more will be on the sex offender register for life. If this order is breached they will be arrested and taken back to Court which could lead to imprisonment.

Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) Schedule 5 Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014

The new sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) will replace the sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) and foreign travel order (FTO) and may be made in relation to a person who has been convicted of or cautioned for a sexual or violent offence (including equivalent offences committed overseas) and who poses a risk of sexual harm to the public.

  • The SHPO may be made by a court on conviction for a sexual or violent offence, or by the magistrates’ court on application by the police or NCA. A court may impose an order for the purposes of protecting the public in the UK and/or children or vulnerable adults abroad from sexual harm;
  • An order may prohibit the person from doing anything described in it – this includes preventing travel overseas. Any prohibition must be necessary for protecting the public in the UK from sexual harm or, in relation to foreign travel, protecting children or vulnerable adults from sexual harm;
  • A SHPO will make the person subject to the notification requirements for registered sex offenders for the duration of the order (that is, it puts them on the ‘sex offenders’ register’), if they are not already;
  • A SHPO lasts a minimum of five years and has no maximum duration, with the exception of any foreign travel restrictions which, if applicable, must be renewed after five years.

Sexual Risk Order (SRO) Schedule 5 Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014

The sexual risk order (SRO) will replace the risk of sexual harm order and may be made in relation to a person without a conviction for a sexual or violent offence (or any offence), but who poses a risk of sexual harm.

The SRO may be made by the magistrates’ court on application, by the police or NCA, where an individual has done an act of a sexual nature and as a result poses a risk of harm to the public in the UK or adults or vulnerable children overseas. “Acts of a sexual nature” are not defined in legislation, and therefore will depend to a significant degree on the individual circumstances of the behaviour and its context.

  • The term intentionally covers a broad range of behaviour. Such behaviour may, in other circumstances and contexts, have innocent intentions. It also covers acts that may not in themselves be sexual but which have a sexual motive and/or are intended to allow the perpetrator to move on to sexual abuse;
  • A SRO may prohibit the person from doing anything described in it – this includes preventing travel overseas. Any prohibition must be necessary for protecting the public in the UK from sexual harm or, in relation to foreign travel, protecting children or vulnerable adults from sexual harm;
  • An individual subject to a SRO is required to notify the police of their name and home address within three days of the order being made, and also to notify any changes to this information within three days;
  • A SRO lasts a minimum of two years and has no maximum duration, with the exception of any foreign travel restrictions which, if applicable, last for a maximum of five years (but may be renewed);
  • As with the SHPO, breach of an order is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum of five years’ imprisonment. The criminal standard of proof continues to apply, the person concerned is able to appeal against the making of the order, and the police or the person concerned are able to apply for the order to be varied, renewed or discharged.

A breach of SRO will make the person subject to FULL notification requirements.

Disqualification Order (DO)

Introduced by the Criminal Courts and Court Services Act 2000 – where young people may be liable to receive a Disqualification Order which prohibits them from working with children if they are convicted of specified sexual / violence offences against children and / or supplying class A drugs to a child. Criminal Courts can impose a DO where a young person receives a qualifying sentence or relevant order for an offence against a child or if they have a relevant offence and the Court considers it likely that the young person may commit another offence against a child. Breach of the order is a criminal offence and could result in custody.

Sex Offender Register

Individuals have to have a Notification Order to be on the Sex Offender Register. The sex offender register came into being in 1997. This requires that individuals who have a qualifying sexual offence and certain periods of sentence to register as a sex offender with the Police at a prescribed Police Station. Individuals have to register within 3 days of conviction or caution (for an adult) or for a young person within 3 days of conviction or Reprimand / Final Warning. The period of registration depends on the sentence and the offence and is generally halved for young people (unless they receive a period of more than 30 months – then they will be on the register indefinitely). The Register requires individuals to register an address if they are to stay at the address for 7 days or more in any 12 month period. Should they move permanently they have 3 days to make notification. In relation to all foreign travel (outside the United Kingdom) if they go abroad then they must inform the Police. The Sex Offender Register is a record on the Police National Computer – which will say who they are / what they did and when (if at all) the registration expires.

Sex Offender Legislation

Sex Offenders Act 2003, came into being May 2004 that changed registration periods and made orders more preventative, reduced the amount of young offenders on the register, brought in new sexual offences especially around safeguarding children and young people.

Sex Offenders Act 2003 (Notification Requirements) (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 gives four new requirements which came into force on 13 August 2012 where sex offenders have to notify the Police:-

  • Of all foreign travel (including travel outside of the UK of less than three days);
  • Weekly, where they are not registered as regularly residing or staying at one place (that is, where a registered sex offender has no sole or main residence and instead must notify the police of the place where he can regularly be found);
  • Where they are living in a household with a child under the age of 18; and bank account and credit card details and notify information about their passports or other identity documents at each notification, tightening the rules so that sex offenders can no longer seek to avoid being on the register when they change their name.

The Disclosure Scheme

Across the UK is an opportunity for people who have children and who have new partners to approach the Police for an informed disclosure as to whether the new partner may pose a risk to them and / or to their children from violent or sexual offences). These disclosures can be with regards to convictions and / or Police intelligence and is shared on a case by case basis.

Other Police, Community and Custodial Orders (for all offences)

For 10 – 17 Year olds:-

Police: – Simple Youth Caution/Conditional Youth Caution/Community Resolution.

Youth Offending Service are:-

Police: Community Resolution/Youth Caution (YC)/Youth Conditional Caution (YCC) (The YC and YCC are supported by YOS and YCC’s are administered by seconded police officers in Cambridgeshire YOS). YCC’s will have a period of interventions offered depending on the offence including work with Cambridgeshire Sexual Behaviour Service.

Youth Offending Service: Referral Order, Youth rehabilitation Order (can have a number of requirements, main ones are: Supervision Requirement, Activity Requirement, Curfew Requirement + 16 different requirements to choose from), Reparation Order. Detention and Training Order (Custodial sentence) up to 2 years. Section 90/91 or Section 226/228 are all Custodial sentences which would be given in a Crown Court for more serious offences for custodial sentences of more than 2 years.

For 18 and above (adults):-

Probation Services are now delivered by both private and public organisations. The majority of offenders will be managed by a Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), and the Cambridgeshire area is part of the BeNCH CRC, which covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire and is owned by Sodexo. The public organisation is the National Probation Service (NPS), and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Delivery Unit is part of the bigger South East and East Division. Most, but not all, sexual offenders will be subject to MAPPA arrangements, and all offenders subject to MAPPA are managed by the NPS. The NPS is also responsible for all interaction with the criminal courts, be it providing reports for courts at sentencing stage or dealing with enforcement.

Offenders are supervised by probation services under the terms of a community order or a prison licence and post sentence supervision. A number of requirements/conditions can be attached to these orders that could require the offender to undertake certain rehabilitative or punitive activities or restrict their behaviour, e.g. where they live or who they can have contact with. These vary according to the type of order.

The NPS delivers two accredited group work treatment programmes for adult males who have committed sexual offences and who are assessed as posing a medium or higher risk of re-offending using the Risk Matrix 2000 risk assessment tool. Attendance on the programme will be a specific requirement/condition of their sentence.

The Internet Sex Offending Treatment Programme (iSOTP) is designed for men whose offences are limited to the downloading and viewing of child abuse images. The programme consists of 35 two hour sessions.

The Thames Valley Sex Offender Treatment Programme (TVSOTP) is designed for men who have committed all other types of contact and non-contact offences, including using the internet to groom victims or set up contact offences. This consists of four blocks: Foundation Block – 10 days over two weeks; Victim Empathy – 8 x two hour sessions; Life Skills – 20 x two hour sessions; Better Lives Relapse Prevention – 22 x two hour sessions.

Key elements of both programmes include:

  • Risk assessment and management;
  • Making offenders aware of the damage caused to their victims;
  • Challenging denial by encouraging offenders to take full and active responsibility for their sexual offending behaviour;
  • Increasing the level of social competence frequently lacking;
  • Developing effective Relapse Prevention Strategies.

Men with a programme requirement would also be allocated an offender manager for on-going risk assessment and management of any other issues related to their offending. There is no group-work treatment provision for female sexual offenders, who are worked with one-to-one by their offender manager.

Other provision that can be used with very specific groups of sexual offenders as part of a risk management plan is the use of Polygraph examinations and medication.

Health:– People can be sectioned under the mental health act or be subject to hospital orders or have a mental health requirement as part of a criminal Court order

Social Care: – Care Orders / Supervision Orders – can have requirements of ‘contact’ with the child / young person

Civil and Criminal Courts can impose: – Anti Social Behaviour Orders – with who not to contact and where not to go.

Missed Cases

Since the requirement to consider disqualification orders came into force on 11 January 2001, there have been a number of cases in which orders should have been considered but were overlooked. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduced a discretionary power for the CPS to make retrospective application to the court for an order in those cases.

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