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6.1 Managing Individuals Posing a Risk to Children

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

See also Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Procedure.

Note: The MAPPA process necessarily dovetails into these procedures. It is designed to support these procedures; however it should not hinder or delay the application of necessary protective action where required in specific cases.


Contents

  1. Relevant Offences
  2. Assessing Risk
  3. The Sex Offenders Register
  4. Orders under the Sexual Offences Act 2003
  5. Concerns about People Suspected of Offences


1. Relevant Offences

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For this reason, the terms Schedule One offence and Schedule One Offender are no longer used and have been replaced by references to Risk to Children Offenders.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 list of offences contained in the circular (see List of Relevant Offences Procedure 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. 

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, offender managers have responsibility for monitoring the individual’s risk to others and their behaviour, and liaising with partner agencies as necessary.

Where such an offender is known to be, or is suspected of being, in contact with a child or children now, or in the immediate future, a referral should be made to Children's Specialist Services in accordance with the Contacts and Referrals Procedure, which will trigger a Social Work Assessment of Needs and Strengths of the child(ren) to enquire whether they are at risk of Significant Harm the making of enquiries under these procedures to determine whether any protective action should be taken. The following guidance is supplementary to those actions.


2. Assessing Risk

A good indicator of future risk is past behaviour and, therefore, where persons with convictions for offences against children come into contact with children, an assessment should be made of the risk posed.

Only an analysis of the context and seriousness of the offence(s) linked to an analysis of the current circumstances will enable professionals to make a valid assessment of risk.

It must be noted that professionals can only look at the known facts. Speculation as to the reasons and circumstances of any plea, are generally unsafe. Similarly, reliance upon the type of offence for which someone is convicted is not necessarily a reliable indicator of its seriousness. 


3. The Sex Offenders Register

The notification requirements of the Sexual Offenders Act 2003 (known as the Sex Offenders Register) are an automatic requirement for people convicted of certain sex offences to register with the Police.

The notification requirements are intended to ensure that the Police are informed of the whereabouts of offenders in the community. The notification requirements do not bar offenders from certain types of employment or from being alone with children. They must inform the police of certain personal details within three days of their conviction or caution for a relevant sexual offence (or, if they are in prison on this date, within three days of their release). Such an offender must then notify the Police, within three days of any change to the notified details and whenever they spend seven days or more at another address. All offenders must reconfirm their details at least once every twelve months and notify the police, seven days in advance of any travel overseas for a period of three days or more. Failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment. The police should be contacted if such an offence is committed. 

All such people are subject to the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Procedure.


4. Orders under the Sexual Offences Act 2003

4.1 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.

For example, a Notification Order could ensure that the notification requirements will apply to a British man who, while on holiday in South East Asia, received a caution for a sexual offence on a child.

Any information that an individual has received a conviction or caution for a sexual offence overseas should, where appropriate, be shared with the police.

4.2 Sexual Offences Prevention Orders (SOPO’s)

SOPO's are civil preventative orders designed to protect the public from serious sexual harm. A court may make a SOPO when it deals with an offender who has received a conviction for an offence listed at Schedule 3 of the 2003 Act (sexual offences), or Schedule 5 of the 2003 Act (violent and other offences), who is assessed as posing a risk of serious sexual harm. Also, the police can apply for a SOPO to a Magistrates’ court in respect of an offender who has a previous conviction or caution for a Schedule 3 or 5 offence, who poses a risk of serious sexual harm. In an application for an order the police can set out the prohibitions they would like the court to consider.

SOPO's include such prohibitions as the court considers appropriate. For example, a child sex offender who poses a risk of serious sexual harm could be prohibited from loitering near schools or playgrounds.

The offender will also, if s/he isn’t already, become subject to the notification requirements of the Sex Offenders Register for the duration of the order.

SOPO's can be particularly helpful in the management of sex offenders who are assessed as continuing to pose a high risk of harm but are no longer subject to statutory supervision.

NB Any violent or sex offender who poses a risk of serious sexual harm should be referred to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Procedure.

Breach of any of the prohibitions in a SOPO is a criminal offence with a maximum punishment of 5 years imprisonment. Therefore, the police should be contacted whenever a SOPO is breached.

4.2 Risk of Sexual Harm Orders (RSHO’s)

RSHO's are civil preventative orders used to protect children from the risks posed by individuals who do not necessarily have a previous conviction for a sexual or violent offence but who have, on at least two occasions, engaged in sexually explicit conduct or communication with a child or children and who pose a risk of further such harm.

For a RSHO to be made it is not necessary for there to be a risk that the defendant will commit a sexual offence against a child - the risk may be that s/he intends to communicate with children in a sexually explicit way. The RSHO can contain such prohibitions, as the court considers necessary. For example, an adult could be found regularly communicating with young children in a sexual way in Internet chat rooms. A RSHO could be used to prohibit the person from using the Internet in order to stop him/her from such harmful activity.

RSHO's are made on application from the police, so any person who is thought to pose a risk of sexual harm to children should be referred to the police. In an application for an order the police can set out the prohibitions they would like the court to consider.

Breach of any of the prohibitions in a RSHO is a criminal offence with a maximum punishment of 5 years’ imprisonment. It is also an offence, which makes the offender subject to the notification requirements of the Sex Offenders Register. The police should be contacted whenever a RSHO is breached.


5. Concerns about People Suspected of Offences

These must be addressed with caution. However, a lack of conviction for a criminal offence does not necessarily mean that a response under these procedures or through the civil courts is inappropriate.

In such cases legal and professional advice should be sought.

Where a practitioner identifies there is a need for an assessment of someone who may pose a risk and it falls outside of MAPPA, (such as a finding of fact in a civil case that harm has been caused by an individual but they have not been convicted), the child protection procedures (as set out in Part 3 of this Manual, Managing Individual Cases Where there are Concerns about a Child's Safety and Welfare - Procedures) must be used to investigate, assess and review the protection of a named child or children who the person intends to live with, lives with and who they have contact with.

The lead agency for this is Children's Specialist Services who will follow the investigative procedures in this both to assess the potential harm and determine whether a child needs to be subject to a Child Protection Plan.

Children’s Social Care must identify ‘those who pose a risk to children’ on the ICS system as a ‘hazard’ and should only be inputted with agreement of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), Youth Offending Service or Children's Specialist Services Team Manager/ Practice Manager. 

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