7.1 Individuals who Pose a Risk of Harm to Children: Guidance
- New Offences
- Multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA)
- Other processes and mechanisms
- DBS Checks
- The sex offenders register
- Children sex offender review disclosure process
- Related Policies, Procedures, and Guidance
This guidance provides information about a range of mechanisms that are available when managing adults, or children and young people, who have been identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, of harm to children.
Areas covered include:
Duty to collaborate
Individuals who pose a risk
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 introduced a number of new offences to deal with those who sexually exploit children and young people. The offences protect children up to the age of 18 and can attract tough penalties. They include:
These are not the only charges that may be brought against those who sexually exploit children or young people. Abusers and coercers often physically, sexually and emotionally abuse these children, and may effectively imprison them. If a child is a victim of serious offences, the most serious charge that the evidence will support should always be used.
Multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA)
MAPPA provide a national framework in England and Wales for the assessment and management of the risk of serious harm posed by specified sexual and violent offenders, including offenders (including young people) who are considered to pose a risk, or potential risk, of serious harm to children. The arrangements are statutory. Sections 325–327 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 require the police, prisons and probation services (the ‘Responsible Authority’) in each area to establish and monitor the arrangements. A number of other agencies – including children and adult’s social care services, health, housing, the YOS, Jobcentre Plus and electronic monitoring providers – are under a statutory duty to cooperate with the Responsible Authority in this work.
National MAPPA Guidance (2012) further develops processes, particularly with regard to young people who pose a risk and the role of the YOS.
The focus of MAPPA is on specified sexual and violent offenders in, and returning to, the community, and its aims are to:
Offenders eligible for MAPPA are identified and information is gathered/shared about them across relevant agencies. The extent to which they pose a risk of serious harm is assessed and a risk management plan is implemented to protect the public.
Each area has a MAPPA Strategic Management Board (SMB) attended by senior representatives of each of the responsible authority and duty to cooperate agencies, plus two lay advisers. It is the SMB’s role to ensure that the MAPPA are working effectively, and to establish and maintain working relationships with the Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs).
There are three categories of offender eligible for MAPPA:
Sharing of relevant information: Exchange of information is essential for effective public protection. The MAPPA guidance details how MAPPA agencies may/should exchange information among themselves to better manage offender It also explains why and how information may be disclosed to those not involved in the MAPPA management of the offenders. The expectation is that information on offenders will be disclosed to others – for example, partners, employers, schools – where this is required to manage the risks posed by the offender.
ViSOR: ViSOR is a national database which currently carries details of MAPPA eligible offenders and other potentially dangerous individuals. The police have been using ViSOR since 2005, and probation and prisons have had access since 2008–09. The benefit is that, for the first time, all three responsible authority agencies can access the same IT system, thus improving the quality and timeliness of risk assessments and of interventions to prevent offending.
Assessment of the risk of serious harm: The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) assesses risk of serious harm using the Offender Assessment System (OAS), supplemented by additional assessment procedures, depending on the nature of the offending and the specific risks identified. The Youth Justice Board uses AssetPlus for under-18-year-olds. The levels of risk are:
Risk is categorised by reference to the potential subject of the harm. This includes children who may be vulnerable to harm of various kinds, including violent or sexual behaviour, emotional harm or neglect. In this context, MAPPA works closely with LSCBs to ensure the best local joint arrangements can be made for any individual child being considered by either setting.
Managing risk of serious harm: In most cases, a MAPPA eligible offender will be managed without recourse to MAPPA meetings under the ordinary arrangements applied by the agency or agencies with supervisory responsibility. This will generally be the police for registered sexual offenders who are not on a licence to probation, and probation for violent offenders and those on a licence; but the YOS will lead with young offenders and mental health services with those on hospital orders. A number of offenders, however, require active multi-agency management and their risk management plans will be formulated and monitored via MAPPA meetings attended by various agencies.
There are three levels of management within the MAPPA framework, based on the level of multi-agency co-operation required to implement the risk management plan effectively:
Offenders will be moved up and down levels as appropriate.
The YOS has a duty to identify cases that meet MAPPA criteria and make appropriate referrals. However, the guidance emphasises that young people should be assessed and managed differently from adults, using age-appropriate assessment tools and always bearing in mind the need to safeguard the welfare of the young offender as well as to protect others from harm. Children’s Social Care should always be represented at MAPPA meetings when a young person is being discussed.
Other processes and mechanisms
Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)
Offending behaviour programmes
Rehabilitation of offenders is the best guarantee of long-term public protection. A range of independently accredited treatment programmes, which have been developed or commissioned by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), have been tried and tested at a national level. Examples include sex offender treatment programmes, programmes for offenders convicted of internet-related sexual offences, and programmes for perpetrators of domestic abuse.
DBS Checks, and Vetting and Barring Overview
Regulated activity: post-10 September 2012 definition (children)
The revised definition of ‘regulated activity’ which determines eligibility for a DBS check is:
DBS certifications that contain criminal information
Duty to make a referral
A referral must be made to the DBS when the following two conditions have both been met:
Permission is withdrawn for a person to work in regulated activity with children and/or adults either through dismissal or by moving the person to another area of work that is not regulated activity. This includes situations where an employer/volunteer manager would or may have dismissed the person or moved them to other duties, if the person had not resigned, retired or otherwise left their work. For example, a teacher resigns when an allegation of harm to a student is first made. The head teacher establishes that harm did occur, or was at risk of occurring, and decides that they may have dismissed the person had they not left and so makes a referral to the DBS.
There is a belief that a person has carried out one of the following:
The DBS will consider whether to bar a person in any of those circumstances. Referrals should be made as soon as possible after the resignation or removal of an individual.
The sex offenders register
By virtue of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Notification Requirements) (England and Wales) Regulations 2012, the Home Office has introduced measures which will extend and strengthen the system of notification requirements placed on registered sex offenders (commonly referred to as the sex offenders’ register).
A person required by the 2003 Act to register with the police is required by law to:
An offender can only give this notification by attending a police station prescribed for the purpose by regulations (the regulations will be periodically updated when the addresses of police stations change).
Offenders should be asked when initially notifying the police whether there are any addresses (such as any described in the fourth bullet above) which they regularly visit and told that they are required to notify them if they begin to visit other addresses.
Offenders should be reminded when initially notifying the police of their names and addresses that they are also required to notify any plans to leave the UK for any periods (a separate form (Form 3317) is available for recording this information).
New name and address: For advance notification if the change takes place more than two days before the anticipated date, the police must be informed. If an advance notification is made and the change has not taken place within three days beginning with the anticipated date, the police must be informed within six days of the anticipated date.
A person failing to comply with the requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, without reasonable excuse, or who provides the police with information which is known to be false, could be sent to prison for up to five years.
Children sex offender review disclosure process
In June 2007, the government published the Review of the Protection of Children from Sex Offenders. Action 4 of the review created a process which allows members of the public to register a child protection interest in an identified individual who has access to, or a connection with, a particular child or children.
If an individual is found to have convictions for sexual offences against children and poses a risk of causing serious harm, there is a presumption that this information will be disclosed to the person who is best placed to protect the child or children, where it is necessary to do so for this purpose.
It should be noted that, under the scope of the Disclosure Process, the presumption for disclosure will only exist in cases where the individual has convictions for child sexual offences. However, it is felt that to restrict access to information regarding convicted child sexual offenders would severely limit the effectiveness of the process and ignore significant issues regarding offences committed against children.
The Disclosure Process will therefore include routes for managed access to information regarding individuals who are not convicted child sexual offenders but who pose a risk of harm to children. This may include:
It is important that the disclosure of information about previous convictions, for offences which are not child sex offences, is able to continue as it is not the intention of the Disclosure Process to make access to information concerning safeguarding children more restricted.
It should be stressed that the Disclosure Process will build on existing procedures such as MAPPA and will provide a clear access route for the public to raise child protection concerns and be confident that action will follow.
It is of paramount importance to all involved in delivering this process to ensure that children are being protected from harm. By making a request for disclosure, a parent, guardian or carer will often also be registering their concerns about possible risks to the safety of their child or children. For that reason, it is essential to this process that police forces, local authority children’s social care and LSCBs work closely together to ensure that any possible risks of harm to the child or children are fully assessed and managed.
For full guidance on this process, see ACPO Guidance on Protecting the Public: Managing Sexual Offenders and Violent Offenders.
Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs)
Violent Offender Orders (VOOs)