Adults who pose a risk to children

Introduction

Children's Social Care has a responsibility to assess risk to children when it becomes known that a person who is proven or suspected of being a child abuser is sharing the household or has significant contact with children.

Professionals from other agencies have a responsibility to pass information to Children's Social Care when they become aware of potential child abusers having contact with children. They also have a responsibility to participate fully in any investigation or enquiry led by Children's Social Care.

These procedures apply to the following categories, if it is believed they have access to children:

All those who have a conviction for a Schedule One Offence (Risk to Children Offenders) as listed below. Note: For the purpose of child protection, no Schedule One offence is ever ‘spent’ in terms of Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. The age and nature of offence will be taken into account as part of an assessment of risk to children.
All those who have been cautioned for an offence that would be a Schedule One offence if convicted. This is on the understanding that a caution can only be administered when:

  •  There is evidence of the offender’s guilt sufficient to give a realistic prospect of conviction
  • The offender has admitted the offence
  • The offender (or, in the case of a juvenile, his parents or guardian) must understand the significance of a caution and give informed consent to being cautioned.
  • Those individuals who have had a ‘finding of fact’ made against them by the family court in care proceedings. In order that a family court can make a ‘finding of fact’ the court must be satisfied that it is probable that a particular individual has been responsible for child abuse
  • Those individuals where previous enquiries/investigations lead Children's Social Care to believe that the individual poses a significant risk to children. This group includes those where a conviction has been unsuccessful or inappropriate, for whatever reason, yet professional judgement identifies a risk to children
  • Particular children and requires an Assessment. An individual has been deemed a risk to.

An Assessment of Risk is carried out under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 in the way described in these procedures (for additional guidance click here). This will include informing parents/carers of the concerns held by Children's Social Care and making a judgement about risk to the children.

It will be normal practice to inform the person giving cause for concern about the intention to make enquiries and about the nature of the concerns. The person giving cause for concern will normally be offered the opportunity to disclose the necessary information to the appropriate parents/carers. Children's Social Care has the responsibility to ensure this is done adequately.

Children's Social Care will need to consider the appropriateness of holding a Child Protection Conference and/or legal proceedings if identified risks warrant such action.

Passing on Information About Individuals Who May Present a Risk to Children (Including all five categories above)

A decision to disclose information to parents/carers or other agencies about adults who present a risk to children will be made by Children's Social Care Service Managers. This will be done after the Service Manager determines that the protection of children overrides concerns about the confidentiality of the individual. Practitioners should refer to the Multi-agency Public Protection Panel Protocol.

Disclosure of Information to Professionals Working in Safeguarding Children Board Agencies

All staff working in Safeguarding Children Board member agencies have a responsibility to ensure children in their care are adequately protected. They therefore have a responsibility to share information about individuals where a risk of child abuse is suspected.

GUIDANCE

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; inclusion within the definition of Schedule One Offender was determined solely by the age of the victim and the offence for which the offender was sentenced, and not by an assessment of future risk of harm to children.

For this reason, the terms Schedule One offence and Schedule One Offender are no longer used and have been replaced by references to Risk to Children Offenders. This clearly indicates that the person has been identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, to children.

In relation to offenders, 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 new list of offences contained in the circular (see the List of Offences below which can be used to identify those who present a risk, or potential risk, to children) should operate as a trigger to a further assessment to determine if an offender should be regarded as presenting a continued risk of harm to children. 

The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 places duties on the Police and Probation Services to make arrangements for the assessment and management of the risks posed by sexual, violent and other offenders who may cause harm to the public.

RISK ASSESSMENTS

Risk assessments should where an abuser is living with or having substantial contact with children and should evaluate:

  • the frequency and extent of the abuser’s past offending behaviour
  • the level of dangerousness that professional agencies may have attributed to the offender in the past trigger factors in the offender’s behaviour
  • the likely risk to current, future and potential victims
  • the abuser’s motivation to change or control his/her abusive behaviour
  • an indication of the types and availability of intervention programmes possible safeguards.

In addition to a risk assessment of the abuser or alleged abuser, an assessment should be made of:

  • the non-abusing carer’s willingness and capacity to protect
  • the degree of risk posed to the victim and non-abused siblings
  • the degree of risk posed to any other members of household and to members of the extended family
  • the degree of risk posed to members of the wider community
  • any risks that may arise from known associates of the abuser.

It is recommended that the findings of assessments are shared among all the agencies working with the abusers’ victims and their families, in accordance with agreed information-sharing protocols.

The following groups may require separate and different approaches:

  • Non-convicted abusers
  • Convicted abusers not currently on a statutory order from the Courts
  • Adult male survivors
  • Children or young people abused outside the family who have not previously come to the attention of Community Services or any other agency.

RECONSTRUCTION OF FAMILIES (FAMILY FACTORS)

Families who wish to reconstruct following the removal of a parent for sexual offences against a child or young person in the family will continue to require a child protection focus from involved professionals.  An assessment of risk will need to be carried out before the offender is allowed any unsupervised contact, overnight stays or return home.  Such an assessment will require effective inter-agency liaison from the outset of the work.

The following is a list of the areas which should be examined in the family component of the assessment and which need to receive positive answers before the offender is introduced into the work:

Note that, for ease of expression in what follows, the abusing parent is referred to as male and the non-abusing parent as female. This may not always be the case. 

  • Does the survivor seek family reconstruction?
  • Have the key issues been addressed in therapy?
  • Does the survivor want the offender back after becoming free of the grooming strategies?
  • Do the survivor and the non-abusing parent recognise the offender was solely responsible for the abuse?
  • Does family reconstruction promote the child’s/young person’s welfare?
  • Is there an absence of scapegoating or blaming the survivor by the non-abused siblings?
  • Do the non-abused siblings actively support the survivor?
  • Do they understand the effects of sexual abuse on the survivor?
  • Does the survivor now have insight into how she/he was  manipulated by the offender?
  • Does the non-offending parent want family reconstruction or is she just the mouthpiece of the offender?  Have her own issues been addressed in therapy?
  • Does she have insight into how she was manipulated/ disempowered by the offender?
  • Has the non-offending parent accepted that the child’s/ young person’s needs are paramount?
  • Is scapegoating and blaming the victim absent?

In carrying out an assessment of the effectiveness of the therapeutic individual and family work, the following needs to be considered:

  • Each family member will have been groomed by the offender in different ways.
  • Family members will need to protect each other and may therefore reinforce denial.
  • The pain of investigation can prompt professionals to want to keep the family united.
  • All family members have a need for their experience to be validated.

If there have been positive answers to the above areas, the offender can be brought into the picture when a therapeutic programme has been completed and positive answers can be given to the following:

  • Has the offender accepted full responsibility for his targeting, grooming and offending behaviour?
  • Has he developed empathy for the survivor?
  • Has he accepted that the needs of the child/young person are paramount?
  • Is there scope for a secure, non-abusive attachment between the offender and survivor, and the offender and non-abused siblings?
  • Does the offender know how to modify/control his sexuality?
  • Does he understand his offending cycle?
  • Does he have a clear relapse prevention plan?
  • Is the offender’s behaviour congruent with what he says?
  • Does the therapist assess the long-term prognosis regarding the possibility of re-offending as positive?

The next stage should be to assess the carer relationship.  The following areas need to be considered:

  • Is there effective communication with an absence of collusion?
  • Has the non-abusing partner become the primary source of power in relation to the child/young person?  Is this real authority or just increased responsibility?
  • Is the non-abusing partner willing to act as part of the offender’s external control system?

If positive answers can be given to the above, family work can be considered:

  • Do adults and children/young people recognise that the offender was responsible for the abuse?
  • Do authority figures in the extended family share a similar understanding?
  • Are these figures supportive of the non-abusing partner and the children or young people?
  • Has the family been able to positively change the family dynamics the offender created or exploited in order to abuse?
  • Does the family have a positive attitude to professional intervention without being hostile or over-dependent?
  • Are the generational boundaries clear and appropriate?

Assuming positive responses to all the above areas, a risk assessment may conclude that family reconstruction is viable.  If so, it is vital to be aware that a new phase of child protection work is only just beginning.  A high level of monitoring, vigilance and awareness will be needed from this time to ensure that children and young people remain protected.

TRAINING, SUPERVISION AND SUPPORT OF STAFF DEALING WITH SEX OFFENDERS


Many practitioners in this field experience working in isolation both from each other and sometimes within their own organisations.  Work with abusers can raise strong feelings in the staff undertaking the work.  It is essential that all staff involved in this work should have an adequate level of training, supervision and support, which can take place either internally or on an inter-agency basis. 

Training should include:

  • A set of guiding principles
  • Knowledge of sex offending behaviour
  • An understanding of the impact of sexual abuse on victims
  • An understanding of other agencies roles and methods of working with sex abuse

Supervision should include:

  • A set of guiding principles
  • A model for working with sex offenders
  • An understanding of the impact of this type of work on practitioners

Appendix - 'Schedule 1' or 'Risk to Children' offences

Taken from Home Office Circular 16/2005

  1. Murder
  2. Manslaughter
  3. Infanticide
  4. Kidnapping
  5. False Imprisonment
  6. Assault or battery
  7. Indecent exposure - Section 4 Vagrancy Act 1824
  8. Indecent exposure - Section 28 Town Police Clauses Act 1847
  9. Conspiring or soliciting to commit murder - Section 4 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  10. Administering poison, or wounding, with intent to murder - Section 11 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  11. Threats to kill - Section 16 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  12. Wounding and causing grievous bodily harm: Wounding with Intent - Section 18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  13. Wounding and causing grievous bodily harm: Inflicting bodily injury - Section 20 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  14. Maliciously administering poison - Section 23 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  15. Abandonment of children under two - Section 27 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  16. Assault occasioning actual bodily harm - Section 47 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  17. Child stealing - Section 56 Offences Against the Person Act 1861
  18. Drunk in charge of a child under 7 years - Section 2 Licensing Act 1902
  19. Cruelty to children - Section 1 Children and Young Persons Act 1933
  20. Allowing persons under 16 to be in brothels - Section 3 Children and Young Persons Act 1933
  21. Causing or allowing persons under 16 to be used for begging - Section 4 Children and Young Persons Act 1933
  22. Give / cause to be given intoxicating liquor to a child under 5 years - Section 5 Children and Young Persons Act 1933
  23. Exposing children under seven to risk of burning - Section 11 Children and Young Persons Act 1933
  24. Prohibition against persons under 16 taking part in performances endangering life and limb - Section 23 Children and Young Persons Act 1933
  25. Infanticide - Section 1 Infanticide Act 1938
  26. Rape - Section 1 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  27. Procurement of a woman by threats - Section 2 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  28. Procurement of a woman by false pretences - Section 3 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  29. Administering drugs to obtain or facilitate intercourse - Section 4 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  30. Intercourse with a girl under 13 - Section 5 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  31. Intercourse with a girl under 16 - Section 6 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  32. Intercourse with defective - Section 7 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  33. Procurement of defective - Section 9 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  34. Incest by a man - Section 10 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  35. Incest by a woman - Section 11 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  36. Buggery where the victim is under 16* - Section 12 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  37. Indecency between men (gross indecency) - Section 13 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  38. Indecent assault on a woman - Section 14 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  39. Indecent assault on a man - Section 15 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  40. Assault with intent to commit buggery - Section 16 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  41. Abduction of a woman by force or for the sake of her property - Section 17 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  42. Abduction of unmarried girl under 18 from parent or guardian - Section 19 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  43. Abduction of unmarried girl under 16 from parent or guardian - Section 20 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  44. Abduction of defective from parent or guardian Section 21 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  45. Causing prostitution of women - Section 22 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  46. Procuration of girl under 21 - Section 23 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  47. Detention of a woman in a brothel or other premises - Section 24 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  48. Permitting a girl under 13 to use premises for intercourse - Section 25 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  49. Permitting a girl between 13 and 16 to use premises for intercourse - Section 26 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  50. Permitting defective to use premises for intercourse - Section 27 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  51. Causing or encouraging prostitution of, or intercourse with, or indecent assault on, girl under 16 - Section 28 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  52. Causing or encouraging prostitution of defective - Section 29 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  53. Man living on earnings of prostitution - Section 30 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  54. Women exercising control over prostitute - Section 31 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  55. Sexual intercourse with patients - Section 128 Mental Health Act 1959
  56. Indecent conduct towards young child - Section 1 Indecency with Children Act 1960
  57. Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the suicide of a child or young person -
  58. Section 2 Suicide Act 1961
  59. Procuring others to commit homosexual acts (by procuring a child to commit an act of buggery with any person, or procuring any person to commit an act of buggery with a child) - Section 4 Sexual Offences Act 1967
  60. Living on earnings of male prostitution - Section 5 Sexual Offences Act 1967
  61. Burglary (by entering a building or part of a building with intent
  62. to rape a child) - Section 9 Theft Act 1968
  63. Supplying or offering to supply a Class A drug to a child, being concerned in the supplying of such a drug to a child, or being concerned in the making to a child of an offer to supply such a drug - Section 4 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
  64. Inciting girl under 16 to have incestuous sexual intercourse - Section 54 Criminal Law Act 1977
  65. Indecent photographs of children - Section 1 Protection of Children Act 1978
  66. Offence of abduction of a child by parent - Section 1 Child Abduction Act 1984
  67. Offence of abduction of child by other persons - Section 2 Child Abduction Act 1984
  68. Possession of indecent photographs of children - Section 160 Criminal Justice Act 1988
  69. Abduction of Child in Care/ Police Protection .. take away/induce away/assist to run away/ keep away - Section 49 Children Act 1989
  70. Recovery of missing or unlawfully held children - Section 50 Children Act 1989
  71. Abuse of Trust - Section 3 Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000
  72. Traffic in prostitution - Section 145 Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002
  73. Rape - Section 1 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  74. Assault by penetration - Section 2 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  75. Sexual assault - Section 3 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  76. Causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent - Section 4 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  77. Rape of a child under 13 - Section 5 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  78. Assault of a child under 13 by penetration - Section 6 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  79. Sexual assault of a child under 13 - Section 7 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  80. Causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity - Section 8 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  81. Sexual Activity with a Child - Section 9 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  82. Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity - Section 10 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  83. Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child - Section 11 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  84. Causing a child to watch a sexual act - Section 12 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  85. Child sex offences committed by a children or young persons - Section 13 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  86. Arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence - Section 14 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  87. Meeting a child following sexual grooming etc - Section 15 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  88. Abuse of position of trust: sexual activity with a child - Section 16 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  89. Abuse of position of trust: causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity - Section 17 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  90. Abuse of position of trust: sexual activity in the presence of a child - Section 18 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  91. Abuse of position of trust: causing a child to watch a sexual act - Section 19 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  92. Sexual activity with a child family member - Section 25 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  93. Inciting a child family member to engage in sexual activity - Section 26 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  94. Sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder impeding choice - Section 30 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  95. Causing or inciting a person, with a mental disorder impeding choice, to engage in sexual activity - Section 31 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  96. Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a person with a mental disorder impeding choice - Section 32 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  97. Causing a person, with a mental disorder impeding choice, to watch a sexual act - Section 33 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  98. Inducement, threat or deception to procure sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder - Section 34 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  99. Causing a person with a mental disorder to engage in or agree to engage in sexual activity by inducement, threat or deception - Section 35 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  100. Engaging in sexual activity in the presence, procured by inducement, threat or deception, of a person with a mental disorder - Section 36 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  101. Causing a person with a mental disorder to watch a sexual act by inducement, threat or deception - Section 37 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  102. Care workers: sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder - Section 38 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  103. Care workers: causing or inciting sexual activity - Section 39 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  104. Care workers: sexual activity in the presence of a person with a mental disorder - Section 40 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  105. Care workers: causing a person with a mental disorder to watch a sexual act - Section 41 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  106. Paying for the sexual services of a child - Section 47 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  107. Causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography - Section 48 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  108. Controlling a child prostitute or a child involved in pornography - Section 49 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  109. Arranging or facilitating child prostitution or pornography - Section 50 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  110. Causing or inciting prostitution for gain - Section 52 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  111. Controlling prostitution for gain - Section 53 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  112. Trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation - Section 57 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  113. Trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation - Section 58 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  114. Trafficking out of the UK for sexual exploitation - Section 59 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  115. Administering a substance with intent - Section 61 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  116. Committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence (in a case where the intended offence was an offence against Section 62 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  117. Trespass with intent to commit a sexual offence (in a case where the intended offence was an offence against a child) - Section 63 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  118. Exposure - Section 66 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  119. Voyeurism - Section 67 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  120. Trafficking people for exploitation - Section 4 Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) 2004
  121. Causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult - Section 5 Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004
  122. A reference to an offence in this list includes:
  123. a reference to an attempt, conspiracy or incitement to commit that offence, and a reference to aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of that offence.
  124. Unless stated otherwise, the victim of the offences listed above will be under 18.
  125. Cautions for the offences listed above will apply