7.1 Individuals who Pose a Risk of Harm to Children: Guidance

This procedure was updated on 06/11/19 and is currently uptodate.




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:

  • collaborative working between organisations and agencies to identify and manage individuals who present a risk of harm to children
  • the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), which enable agencies to work together within a statutory framework for managing risk of harm to the public
  • other processes and mechanisms for working with individuals who present a risk of harm to children.

Duty to collaborate

  • 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 is rightly focused on the child and the supporting parent/carer. As part of that protection, action has been taken, usually by the police and Children’s Social Care, to prosecute known offenders and/ or control their access to vulnerable children.
  • This work, while successful in addressing the safety of particular victims, has not always acknowledged the ongoing risk of harm that an individual perpetrator may pose to other children in the future. Nor does it acknowledge that a young person may also be a perpetrator and that the same young person may simultaneously be both suffering, and likely to suffer, harm, and also present a risk of harm to other children and young people.

Individuals who pose a risk

  • 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 Person’s Act 1933. However, since the Sex Offences Act 2003, these are now known as Schedule 3 (all sex offences) or Schedule 5 (violent offences). A conviction for an offence in the schedules does not trigger any statutory requirement in relation to child protection issues, and inclusion on the schedule was determined solely by the age of the victim and offence for which the offender was sentenced, and not by an assessment of whether the offender may pose a future risk of harm to children.
  • Therefore the term ‘Schedule One offender’ is no longer used. It has been replaced with ‘Risk to children’. This clearly indicates that the person has been identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, of harm to children.
  • Guidance on offences against children (Home Office Circular 16/2005) explains how those people who present a risk, or potential risk, of harm to children should be identified. The circular explains that the present method of automatically identifying as a risk of harm to children an offender who has been convicted of an offence listed in Schedule One of the Children and Young Person’s Act 1933 fails to focus on those who continue to present a risk of harm.
  • Practitioners working in this area should use the new list of offences as a ‘trigger’ to a further assessment, including consideration of previous offences and behaviours, to determine if an offender should be regarded as presenting a continuing risk of harm to children. This allows agencies to focus resources on the correct group of individuals, and not include those who have been identified solely because a child was harmed during the offence, for example, as in the case of a road traffic accident.
  • An offender who has harmed a child might not continue to present a risk or harm towards that child or other children. Where a child or young person (aged under 18 years) offends against another child, a thorough and specialist assessment should be undertaken to establish the extent to which the young person who has offended continues to pose a risk of harm to other children and young people. They should be alert to the possibility that there may be little or no continuing risk of harm to other children and young people, but never losing sight of taking all possible actions to ensure that children are adequately protected from any future harm. Practitioners should also assess and put in place services to respond to the, often complex, needs of the young person who has offended.
  • Once an individual has been sentenced and identified as presenting a risk of harm to children, agencies have a responsibility to work collaboratively to monitor and manage the risk of harm to others. Where an offender is given a community sentence, Offender Managers or Youth Offending Service (YOS) workers will monitor the individual’s risk of harm to others and their behaviour, and liaise with partner agencies as appropriate. The YOS monitors the risk of harm to others and works with other known agencies to manage that risk by holding regular Risk Management Panels (RMPs).
  • In cases where an offender has been sentenced to a period of custody, prison establishments undertake a similar responsibility and, in addition, notify other agencies prior to any period of release. Similarly, for offenders released on licence into the community who are assessed as potentially presenting a risk of harm to children, consideration will be given to including licence conditions which seek to prevent the offender’s contact with children.

New Offences


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:

  • paying for the sexual services of a child
  • causing or inciting child prostitution
  • arranging or facilitating child prostitution
  • controlling a child prostitute.

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:

  • ensure more comprehensive risk assessments are completed, taking advantage of coordinated information sharing across the agencies
  • share information, assess and manage risk and direct the available resources
  • best protect the public from serious harm.

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 Partnerships.


There are three categories of offender eligible for MAPPA:

  • Registered sexual offenders (Category 1) – sexual offenders who are required to notify the police.
  • Violent offenders (Category 2) – offenders sentenced to imprisonment/detention for 12 months or more and are high risk, or detained under hospital orders (in relation to murder or offences specified in schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003). This category also includes a small number of sexual offenders who do not qualify for registration, and offenders disqualified from working with children.
  • Other dangerous offenders (Category 3) – offenders who do not qualify under categories 1 or 2, but who currently pose a high risk of serious harm, there is a link between the offending and the risk posed, and they require active multi-agency management.

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:

  • Low: current evidence does not indicate likelihood of causing serious harm
  • Medium: identifiable indicators of risk of serious harm. The offender has the potential to cause serious harm, but is unlikely to do so unless there is a change in circumstances, for example, failure to take medication, loss of accommodation, relationship breakdown, or drug or alcohol misuse
  • High: identifiable indicators of risk of serious harm. The potential event could happen at any time, and the impact would be serious
  • Very high: an imminent risk of serious harm. The potential event is more likely than not to happen imminently, and the impact to be serious

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 local safeguarding children partnerships 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:

  • Level 1 – Ordinary management. These offenders are subject to the usual management arrangements applied by whichever agency is supervising them. But this does not rule out information sharing between agencies, via ViSOR and other routes
  • Level 2 – Active multi-agency management. The risk management plans for these offenders require the active involvement of several agencies via regular MAPPA meetings
  • Level 3 – Active multi-agency management. As with level 2, but these cases additionally require the involvement of senior officers to authorise the use of special resources, such as police surveillance or specialised accommodation, and/or to provide ongoing senior management oversight. 

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.


The national MAPPA guidance sets out the framework in full and can be accessed on the MAPPA.

Other processes and mechanisms

Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)

  • A MARAC is a multi-agency meeting focusing on the safety of high-risk victims of domestic abuse. The identification of high-risk victims has been made possible by a risk identification tool, for use across a wide range of agencies. This has permitted practitioners, both within and outside of the criminal justice system, to identify high-risk victims of domestic abuse. As a result, many more high-risk victims are being identified and, in response, the MARAC has been rolled out across England and Wales.
  • The MARAC is a process involving all the key statutory and voluntary agencies who might be involved in supporting a victim of domestic abuse. This includes those from the criminal justice system, those supporting children, those from the health service, the local authority, housing, substance misuse and, critically, specialist domestic violence services, most frequently in the form of an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA). The IDVA is a specialist caseworker who receives accredited training to work with high-risk victims of domestic abuse from the point of crisis, and whose focus is very much on the MARAC.
  • At a typical MARAC meeting, 15 to 20 high-risk cases are discussed in half a day, with a very brief and focused information-sharing process followed by a simple multi-agency action plan being put into place to support the victim and to make links with other public protection procedures, particularly safeguarding children, vulnerable adults and the management of perpetrators.
  • It is important to understand that the MARAC meeting is part of a wider process which hinges on the early involvement and support from an IDVA and continued specialist case management, both before and after the meeting. The MARAC should combine the best of specialist support together with the co-ordination of the generic agencies whose resources and involvement will be needed to keep victims and their children safe.
  • Where an offender is being managed at MAPPA Level 2 or Level 3, to avoid duplication of effort and resources, the MAPPA meeting should take the lead over the MARA This is because the MAPPA is a statutory set of arrangements and therefore it takes precedence over the 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

DBS Checks, and Vetting and Barring Overview

  • The Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) was formed when the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) merged in 2012. The DBS holds two lists (‘Barred Lists’) of those individuals that are barred from working with (a) children and (b) vulnerable adults. It is responsible for deciding whether an individual should be included on one or both of those lists. Employers and agencies have a duty to refer to the DBS any information about individuals they believe may pose a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults, ensuring potential threats to vulnerable groups can be identified and dealt with.
  • It is a criminal offence for barred individuals to seek or take up regulated activity (see definition below) with vulnerable groups, and for employers or agencies to knowingly employ/engage barred staff.
  • DBS checks (formerly known as CRB checks) provide information about an individual’s criminal record (if appropriate). DBS certificates are required for people applying for jobs which are defined as ‘regulated positions’ by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
  • The definition of ‘regulated activity’ for work with children is different to that of work with vulnerable adults. DBS checks sought for individuals undertaking regulated activity also include checks to see if a person is included on any lists held by the DBS of people who are barred from undertaking regulated activity with children and young people.
  • All individuals that fall within the post-10 September 2012 definition of regulated activity are required to obtain an enhanced DBS check with an appropriate barred list check. Individuals who do not fall within this category but were eligible for a DBS check prior to 10 September 2012 can have an enhanced DBS check but are not eligible for a barred list check.

Regulated activity: post-10 September 2012 definition (children)


The revised definition of ‘regulated activity’ which determines eligibility for a DBS check is: 

  • Work of a specified nature (e.g. teaching, training, care, supervision, advice, treatment) which involves close (work which involved close proximity to a child and allows the possibility of a relationship to be built) and unsupervised (there is no-one overseeing the activity who has had a DBS and barred list check, i.e. someone who has been checked for undertaking regulated activity) contact with children, which occurs frequently/intensively (once a week or four times in a 30-day period or overnight).
  • Any paid employee of a specified place (e.g. a school, residential care home, children’s centre, nursery, but excluding youth centres/clubs) that works frequently/intensively.
  • Any unsupervised volunteer that volunteers in a specified place frequently/intensively.

DBS certifications that contain criminal information

  • Roles requiring standard or enhanced DBS checks are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which means that all criminal information is provided about an applicant, even if it would otherwise be regarded as ‘spent’. An enhanced DBS check may also include relevant information the police have on record, even if it has not resulted in a caution or conviction (for example if allegations have been made and reported to the police).
  • Having a criminal conviction does not in itself bar a person from work with children or young people. If a DBS check discloses convictions or relevant information, an employer has to decide whether a person is suitable to be employed in the role concerned.
  • Organisations should have a policy for the recruitment of ex-offenders (a model version is available) which aims to ensure that all applicants are given fair and transparent consideration for employment.
  • From 29 May 2013, adult convictions and cautions are removed from DBS Certificates if:
    • 11 years have elapsed since a conviction date
    • there is only a single offence which is not on a list of specified offences
    • any offence is of a non-custodial nature
    • Cautions are removed after six years. Serious offences are never removed from an individual’s record.
  • For individuals under age 18 at the time of an offence, the above removal times (11 years and 6 years) are approximately halved.

Duty to make a referral


A referral must be made to the DBS when the following two conditions have both been met:

Condition one

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.

Condition two

There is a belief that a person has carried out one of the following:

  • been cautioned or convicted of a relevant (automatic) barring offence
  • engaged in relevant conduct in relation to children and/or adults (i.e. an action or inaction (neglect) that has harmed a child or put them at risk or harm)
  • satisfied the harm test in relation to children (i.e. there has been no relevant conduct – no action or inaction – but a risk of harm to a child still exists).

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:

  • Notify the police within three days of the caution, conviction or finding (or, if he/she is in custody or otherwise detained, three days from his/her release) of his/her name, date of birth and home address at the time of conviction, caution or finding (Section 83). In addition, he/she is also required to notify the police of his/her current name, including any aliases he/she uses, and his/her sole or main residence in the UK or, if he/she has no such residence, any premises in the UK at which he/she can be found, if either are different from the name and address at the time of conviction.
  • Submit on initial notification, notification of any changes to registered details and periodic notification to having his/her fingerprints and photograph taken (Section 87(4)).
  • Notify the police of any changes to the name and address he/she has registered within three days of the date of any change, including release from prison for subsequent offences (Section 84).
  • Notify the police of any address where he/she resides or stays for seven days or longer. This means either seven days at a time, or a total of seven days in any 12-month period (Section 84).
  • Notify the police no less than seven days in advance of any intended period of foreign travel, with such information as required by the Act (Section 86).
  • Notify the police weekly where registered as ‘no fixed abode’.
  • Notify the police if he/she has resided or stayed for at least 12 hours at a household or other private place where an under 18 year old resides or stays.
  • Notify police of passport, credit card and bank account details, and certain information contained in a passport or other form of identification held by the relevant offender on each notification.
  • All offenders must re-confirm their details every year (Section 85).
  • All offenders have to notify their National Insurance numbers at their initial notification. (Section 83(5)).

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:

  • persons who are convicted of other offences for example, serious domestic violence
  • persons who are not convicted, but about whom the police, or any other agency, holds intelligence indicating that they pose a risk of harm to children. There would not however be a presumption to disclose such information

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 local safeguarding children partnerships 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.

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. The provisions also apply to young people who have offended.
  • 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.
  • If a Notification Order is in force, the offender becomes subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Registration.
  • For example, a Notification Order could ensure that the notification requirements 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.

Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs) 

  • Sexual Harm Prevention Orders and Sexual Risk Orders were introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. They replace the previous Sexual Offences Prevention Orders, Risk of Sexual Harm Orders and Foreign Travel Orders which were introduced by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
  • 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 UK.
  • 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 five 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.

Violent Offender Orders (VOOs)

  • Violent Offender Orders (VOOs) are civil preventative orders that came into effect in 2009 (contained in Part 7 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008).
  • VOOs were developed as a tool to help the police manage those offenders who continue to pose a risk of serious violent harm to the public, even after their release from prison or when their licence has ceased. Although not specifically designed as a tool to protect children, there may be circumstances where VOOs would be an appropriate mechanism to manage an individual who poses a serious risk of harm to children.
  • VOOs are available on application by a chief officer of police to a Magistrates’ Court and, if granted, will contain such restrictions, prohibitions or conditions authorised by Section 102 of the Act as the Court considers necessary to protect the public from the risk of serious violent harm caused by the offender. This may include prohibiting their access to certain places, premises, events or people to whom they pose the highest risk.
  • Breach of any of the prohibitions, restrictions or conditions contained in a VOO without reasonable excuse is a criminal offence, with a maximum punishment of five years’ imprisonment.
  • Full guidance on VOOs is available on the Home Office’s Crime Reduction website.

Related Policies, Procedures, and Guidance

This page is correct as printed on Friday 12th of July 2024 10:11:35 PM please refer back to this website (http://bscb.procedures.org.uk) for updates.