SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter outlines the key points in relation managing individuals who pose a risk of harm to children.
This chapter was updated in June 2015, when information on Sexual Harm Prevention Orders and Sexual Risk Orders (which were introduced in the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014) was added into Section 12, Other Processes and Mechanisms.
This chapter is currently under review.
- Collaborative Working
- Recognition and Assessment of Individuals who may Pose a Risk to Children
- Risk Assessment
- Referral to Children's Social Care
- An Individual who Admits Past Abuse of a Child
- A Child who Presents a Risk of Harm to Others
- Disclosure of Information
- Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)
- Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC)
- Safe Employment and Recruitment
- Other Processes and Mechanisms
This chapter provides practice guidance and information about a range of mechanisms that are available when managing people who have been identified as presenting a risk of harm to children.
2. Collaborative Working
The Children Act 1989 recognised that the identification and investigation of child abuse together with the protection and support of victims and their families requires multi-agency collaboration. This has rightly focussed on the child and the supporting parent/carer. As part of that protection, action can be taken to prosecute known offenders or control their access to children. This also applies to the on-going risk of harm that an individual perpetrator may present to other children in the future.
3. Recognition and Assessment of Individuals who may Pose a Risk to Children
Indicators of individuals who may pose a risk to children include:
- Individuals convicted of offences that indicate they may be a risk to children (see Home Office circular 16 / 2005 Guidance on Offences against children);
- Individuals known to have been subject to a criminal justice disposal in relation to an offence against children;
- Individuals who are perpetrators of domestic abuse (see Domestic Abuse Procedure);
- Individuals against whom there is a previous finding of fact in civil proceedings;
- Individuals about whom there has been a substantiated allegation (see Managing Allegations Against Staff, Carers and Volunteers Procedure);
- Those about whom there has been a previous Section 47 Enquiry which was substantiated, whose children have been subject to a Child Protection Plan and/or removed from their care;
- An individual who has admitted past abuse of a child;
- Offenders convicted of serious crimes against adults who are notified to the local authority, because the Prison or Probation Providers are concerned about the possible risk to children (see Derbyshire Probation Information Sharing Agreement - Assessment, Referral and Management of Offenders in the Community Who Pose a Risk to Children (Documents Library, Protocols));
- Offenders who come to the attention of the MAPPA (see Section 9, Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements).
Regardless of any information from an individual's background, an assessment of current risk must be undertaken to establish the nature and level of risk currently and in any particular situation.
4. Risk Assessment
The risk assessment and management of alleged/suspected offenders will usually be through multi agency risk assessment and procedures e.g. Child Protection Conferences, MAPPA, MARAC. All agencies have a role to play when a known individual is setting up home with a new partner who has children, and should engage with relevant processes.
Where possible, the individual should be consulted to provide information to assist the risk assessment, unless that would increase risk to a child.
The individual should be given the opportunity to challenge the information on which the decision to disclose is being made, and the response considered as part of the risk assessment.
The risk assessment must consider both enduring and changeable factors and take account of:
- Nature and pattern of previous offending or harmful behaviour where no conviction has occurred;
- Compliance with previous sentences or court orders;
- Proximity of potential victims;
- Probability that a further offence will be committed;
- The harm such behaviour will cause;
- Any behaviour indicating likelihood that s/he will re-offend;
- Any expert opinion, for example psychiatric;
- Any other relevant information for example specific vulnerability of a child.
Use of the term 'Risk to Children'
The term 'Risk to Children' supersedes previous terminology of "Schedule One offender" which was used for anyone convicted of an offence against a child listed in Schedule One of the Children and Young Person's Act 1933. Individuals are now referred to as having "Risk to Children" status to clearly indicate that the person has been identified as presenting a risk or potential risk of harm to children.
Practitioners working in this area should use the list of offences as a 'trigger' to a further assessment to determine if an offender should be regarded as presenting a continued risk of harm to children.
Once an individual has been sentenced and identified as presenting a risk to children, agencies have a responsibility to work collaboratively to monitor and manage the risk of harm to others. Where the offender is given a community sentence, or is being released on Licence, Offender Managers from Probation (or Youth Offending Team workers) will monitor the individual's risk to others and behaviour and liaise with partner agencies through a multi-agency meeting e.g. MAPPA as appropriate.
In cases where the offender has been sentenced to a period of custody, prison establishments will notify Social Care, Police, Probation Providers and other agencies if necessary prior to any period of release.
5. Referral to Children's Social Care
All practitioners who are concerned that a person may pose a risk to children should make a referral to Children's Social Care. An s47 enquiry must be instigated if the person is living in a household with children, has contact with children or poses an ongoing risk to other children.
All assessments of risk must consider the:
- The needs and impact upon the individual child;
- Degree and pattern of abusing or offending behaviour, including behaviour thought to have occurred, but which has not led to a criminal conviction;
- Level of protection which is likely to be provided by other significant adults.
Where a concern is raised about an individual who is subject of MAPPA, liaison will be needed (see Section 9, Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements).
6. An Individual who Admits Past Abuse of a Child
In the course of ongoing professional support (such as counselling) a person may disclose that they have abused a child. Whilst recognising the importance of confidential services, the practitioner should ascertain whether the person is living in a household with children, has contact with children or poses an ongoing risk to other children.
The practitioner should seek advice from the designated person for child protection if there is anxiety about the welfare of any child.
The practitioner and agency must make a referral to Children's Social Care and/or the Police (see Adults who Disclose Non Recent Abuse Procedure).
7. A Child who Presents a Risk of Harm to Others
8. Disclosure of Information
8.1 Disclosure by the Local Authority
This procedure applies when the disclosure of information about an individual's previous history is being considered.
Subject to legislation including Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme and Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, and to the conditions set out in:
- Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Boards' Information Sharing Agreement and Guidance for Practitioners (see Documents Library, Guidance Documents).
The general presumption is that information should not normally be disclosed, except if one of the following applies:
- Consent from the individual/suspected offender/alleged offender/convicted offender;
- Statutory requirements or other legal duty;
- Duty to ensure public safety (which includes the safety of children).
N.B. Legal advice should be sought where doubt exists as to the lawfulness of disclosure and advice should be considered in the absence of consent.
Generally the risk assessment for disclosure of information on convicted abusers will be led by the Police and Probation Service (see Section 9, Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)), but Children's Social Care may need to consider the risk also of those alleged abusers who:
- Have been charged with an offence and outcome of case is pending;
- Were not prosecuted because the required standard of proof was not met and a criminal case was not pursued;
- Were not prosecuted but the case 'left on file';
- Were acquitted.
8.2 Disclosure Process
Prior to any decision to disclose information, a risk assessment must be undertaken, in order to establish what risks the person poses to children and the risks associated with disclosure. The Police are the only agency authorised to release information about a registered sex offender and must be consulted by any agency wishing to disclose such information to a third party.
Each decision to disclose must be justified on the likelihood of significant harm which non-disclosure might cause and the pressing need for such a disclosure, together with the strength and validity of the evidence relating to the offender/alleged offender.
Consideration must be given to other, less intrusive methods that might achieve any required objectives:
- If the offender is supervised by Probation, the use of its powers may assist or obviate the need for disclosure;
- Consent to disclosure should be sought from the individual in question (unless this increases the risk to any child);
- Consideration should be given to allowing the individual to make the disclosure themselves, which may be sufficient to achieve the objective.
Where a decision to disclose is made, consideration should be given to:
- The specific content of the information to be disclosed;
- To whom the information be disclosed and how it will be done;
- Time scales.
Following disclosure, the practitioner must note:
- How seriously the child/carer took the information;
- The carer's ability and plans to protect the child;
- The carer's immediate plans for protection.
Legal advice should be sought regarding the possibility of disclosure where necessary and the decision taken in consultation with social care, Police and Probation at a Strategy Meeting. If the Police do not support any planned disclosure based on the potential risk to an identified child, further legal advice must be taken.
8.3 Disclosure Requests to the Police
The Police are committed to sharing information and intelligence with other agencies for the purposes of protecting children. All requests for information should be made in accordance with the 2013 Protocol and Good Practice Model Disclosure of Information in Cases of Alleged Child Abuse and Linked Criminal and Care Directions Hearings.
Under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme 2014, members of the public have a "right to ask" if a partner of family member has a history of violence or abuse; where agencies hold such information they must consider whether the person applying or any other individual has a "right to know". (For Further Information see Domestic Abuse Procedure, Assessment of Child's Needs).
9. Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)
Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements provide a national framework in England and Wales for the assessment and management of risk posed by serious and violent offenders. This includes individuals who are considered to pose a risk or potential risk of harm to children.
The arrangements impose statutory requirements on the Police, Probation Services and the Prison Service (the "Responsible Authorities").
A duty to co-operate with the Responsible Authority has been placed on a number of agencies providing services to offenders including health, housing, Children's Social Care, education, youth offending teams, jobcentre plus, and electronic monitoring providers. Two lay advisers assist the Responsible Authority to monitor and review the MAPP arrangements locally.
While MAPPA will not address the concerns of further serious harm posed by all perpetrators of child abuse, its purpose is to focus on convicted sexual and violent offenders returning to and in the community.Practitioners, through rigorous risk assessment on an individual case basis, refer offenders to the MAPPA process. Information about the referral process can be obtained from the MAPPA Coordination Unit/Public Protection Unit.
9.1 Identification of MAPPA offenders
Offenders falling within the remit of MAPPA in each area are categorised as follows:
Category 1 - Registered sexual offender.
Category 2 - Murderer or an offender who has been convicted of an offence under Schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act and:
Category 3 - Other dangerous offender: a person who has been cautioned for or convicted of an offence which indicates that he or she is capable of causing serious harm and which requires multi-agency management. This might not be for an offence under Sch.15 of the CJA 2003.
N.B. The full list of Schedule 15 offences is available at Appendix 4 and (in greater detail) at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/44/schedule/15.
9.2 Sharing of Relevant InformationExchange of information is essential for effective public protection. Multi-agency Public Protection Panels (MAPPP) can recommend that agencies disclose information about offenders to a number of organisations including schools and voluntary groups.
9.3 Assessment of the Risk of Serious Harm
HM Prison and Probation Service assess risk of harm using the Offender Assessment System (OASYS). The Youth Justice Board use AssetPlus for under eighteen year olds. The following describe each level of risk:
- Low: no significant, current indicators of risk of harm;
- Medium: there are identifiable indicators of risk of harm. The offender has the potential to cause harm but is unlikely to do so unless there is a change in circumstances, e.g. failure to take medication, loss of accommodation, relationship breakdown, drug or alcohol misuse;
- High: there are identifiable indicators of risk of serious harm. The potential event could happen at any time and the impact would be serious;
- Very high: there is an imminent risk of harm. The potential event is more likely than not to happen imminently and the impact would be serious.
9.4 Managing Risk
The MAPPA framework identifies three separate, but, connected levels, at which risk is managed:
- Level 1: ordinary agency management;
- Level 2: active multi-agency management; and
- Level 3: active enhanced multi-agency management.
Level 1 cases
Ordinary agency management level 1 is where the risks posed by the offender can be managed by the agency responsible for the supervision or case management of the offender. This does not mean that other agencies will not be involved, only that it is not considered necessary to refer the case to a level 2 or 3 MAPP meeting. It is essential that information sharing takes place, disclosure is considered, and there are discussions between agencies as necessary.
Level 2 cases
Cases should be managed at level 2 where the offender:
- Is assessed as posing a high or very high risk of serious harm; or
- The risk level is lower but the case requires the active involvement and co-ordination of interventions from other agencies to manage the presenting risks of serious harm; or
- The case has been previously managed at level 3 but no longer meets the criteria for level 3; or
- Multi-agency management adds value to the lead agency's management of the risk of serious harm posed.
Level 3 cases
Level 3 management should be used for cases that meet the criteria for level 2 but where it is determined that the management issues require senior representation from the Responsible Authority and Duty-to-Cooperate agencies. This may be when there is a perceived need to commit significant resources at short notice or where, although not assessed as high or very high risk of serious harm, there is a high likelihood of media scrutiny or public interest in the management of the case and there is a need to ensure that public confidence in the criminal justice system is maintained.
10. Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC)
Where an individual has been the victim of domestic abuse, including where they or the perpetrator has children, a Safelives DASH risk assessment should be completed in relation to the victim and the Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix (DVRIM) (see Documents Library, Assessment Tools) used to assess the level of risk to any children. MARACs will be held where risks above a certain threshold are identified and a risk reduction strategy put in place around the perpetrator as well as the victim and any children. A failure to implement the agreed strategy or any repeat of violence or abuse should be brought back to a MARAC for further consideration.
11. Safe Employment and Recruitment
11.1 Allegations Against Staff, Carers and Volunteers
Any information or allegation that a person in a "position of trust" in relation to a child, has acted to harm a child or place any child at risk of harm must be investigated and referred to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). Any investigation by Social Care or Police should consider the employment situation of any suspected perpetrator of abuse, and refer to the LADO if appropriate.
11.2 Disqualification from Working with Children
People can be disqualified from working with children. A person is disqualified by either:
- A Disqualification Order;
- Being included the Barred List of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) of people who are unsuitable to work with children.
A Disqualification Order is made by the Crown Court when a person is convicted for a specified offence against a child (including sexual offences, violent offences and offences of selling Class A drugs to a child) and is of indefinite duration (i.e. for life) but application can be made for an order to be reviewed by the Care Standards Tribunal after 10 years (or 5 years in the case of a juvenile).
Disqualification Orders are made as part of the sentence and, therefore, cannot be made on application. People who are disqualified from working with children are prohibited from applying for, offering to do, accepting, or doing, any work in a Regulated Activity.
In 2013, the Department for Education published updated guidance on what constitutes regulated activity, see Statutory Guidance: Regulated Activity (children) - Supervision of Activity with Children which is Regulated when Unsupervised.
A person who is disqualified commits an offence if he/she knowingly applies for, offers to do, accepts, or does, any work with children. It is also an offence for an individual knowingly to offer work with children to, or procure work with children for, an individual who is disqualified from working with children, or to allow such an individual to continue in such work. The Police should be contacted if such an offence is committed.Education services, schools, FE institutions and other employers have a statutory duty to inform the DBS if they cease to use a person's services on grounds of misconduct or unsuitability to work with children, or someone leaves in circumstances where the employer might have ceased to use their services on one of those grounds. The Police should also inform the DBS if a teacher or other member of staff at a school is convicted of a criminal offence.
11.3 Criminal Records Disclosures
The DBS service aims to help employers make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for certain types of work.
Employers should ask successful candidates to apply to the DBS for a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure, depending on the duties of the particular position or job involved. In addition to information about a person's criminal record, Disclosures supplied in connection with work with children will contain details of whether a person is included on the DBS's Barred List. Enhanced Disclosures may contain details of acquittals or other non-conviction information held on local Police records, relevant to the position or post for which the person has been selected.
12. Other Processes and Mechanisms
All agencies should ensure that their recording systems allow the easy identification of individuals who present a risk of harm to children. Where those individuals are, or later become, linked to children, consideration must be given to any new or current risks and the need for an up-dated risk assessment.
12.2 The Sex Offender 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 who receive a conviction or caution for certain sexual offences. The notification requirements are intended to ensure that the Police can manage the risk of offenders in the community. The notification requirements do not bar offenders from certain types of employment, from being alone with children etc.Failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence. The Police should be contacted if such an offence is committed.
12.3 Notification Orders
Notification Orders are intended to ensure that British citizens or residents, as well as foreign nationals, can be made subject to the notification requirements (the Sex Offenders Register) in the UK if they receive convictions or cautions for sexual offences overseas.
Notification Orders are made on application from the Police to a Magistrates' Court. Therefore, if an offender is identified who has received a conviction or caution for a sexual offence overseas the case should be referred to the local Police for action.Any information that an individual has received a conviction or caution for a sexual offence overseas should be shared with the Police.
12.4 Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014)
Sexual Harm Prevention Orders can be applied to anyone convicted or cautioned of a sexual or violent offence, including where offences are committed overseas.
The court needs to be satisfied that the order is necessary for protecting the public, or any particular members of the public, from sexual harm, or protecting children from sexual harm from the defendant outside the United Kingdom.
The Orders prohibit the defendant from doing anything described in the order, and can include a prohibition on foreign travel (replacing Foreign Travel Orders which were introduced by the Sexual Offences Act 2003).
A prohibition contained in a Sexual Harm Prevention Order has effect for a fixed period, specified in the order, of at least 5 years, or until further order. The Order may specify different periods for different prohibitions.Failure to comply with a requirement imposed under an Order is an offence punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.
12.5 Sexual Risk Orders (Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014)
Sexual Risk Orders (SRO) can be made where a person has done an act of a sexual nature as a result of which there is reasonable cause to believe that it is necessary for such an order to be made, even if they have never been convicted. They replace the previous Risk of Sexual Harm Orders (RoSHO).
A SRO can made by the magistrates' court on application by the police or National Crime Agency (NCA). The court needs to be satisfied that the order is necessary for protecting the public or any particular members of the public, from sexual harm from the defendant; or protecting children or vulnerable adults generally, or any particular children or vulnerable adults, from sexual harm from the defendant outside the United Kingdom.
The Orders prohibit the defendant from doing anything described in the order, and can include a prohibition on foreign travel (replacing Foreign Travel Orders which were introduced by the Sexual Offences Act 2003).
A prohibition contained in a Sexual Risk Order has effect for a fixed period, specified in the order, of not less than 2 years, or until further order. The Order may specify different periods for different prohibitions.
Failure to comply with a requirement imposed under an Order is an offence punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.Existing RoSHOs will still stand.
12.6 Violent Offender Orders (VOO)
VOOs are a targeted risk management tool which can impose prohibitions, restrictions or conditions on offenders convicted of a specified violent offence who pose a risk of violent harm to the public in the UK. The offender must be 18 years or above and have received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more. Breach of any of the prohibitions in a VOO is a criminal offence. The Police should be contacted whenever a VOO is breached.
12.7 Domestic Violence Notification Orders and Protection Orders
Under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme 2014, the Police may issue a DVNO which will contain provision to prohibit a perpetrator of domestic abuse from molesting a named individual and will also address the welfare of any relevant children. The Police may then apply for a DVPO which will extend this protection for an identified period. Breach of any of the prohibitions in a DVPO carries a power of arrest and detention by the Police to bring the perpetrator back before the Court. The Police should be contacted whenever a DVPO is breached.
12.8 Probation Licence Conditions
When an offender is released on licence, pending completion of sentence, Probation can impose conditions on where the offender may live and other restrictions. If the offender breaches any of these conditions they may be recalled to prison for the remainder of the sentence or pending appeal or further parole. Probation should be notified whenever licence conditions are breached.