9.1 Risks Posed by People with Convictions Against Children
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.
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For this reason, the terms Schedule One offence and Schedule One Offender are no longer used and have been replaced by references to Risk to Children Offenders.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 Home Office Circular 15/2005 – Guidance on Offences Against Children (Including List of Offences) 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 Social Care in accordance with the Referrals Procedure, and consideration should be given to the making of enquiries under these procedures to determine whether any protective action should be taken. The following guidance is supplementary to those sections.
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.
When undertaking an assessment it is important to consider a number of factors.
These will include:
- The date of the offence;
- The age of the perpetrator in relation to the victim;
- The type of offence;
- The degree of coercive or threatening behaviour;
- The pattern of offending;
- The circumstances of the offence;
- Any subsequent assessments of risk;
- The offender’s attitude to the offence.
Professionals involved in assessments should also contact the Norfolk MAPPA Co-ordinator, on 01603 276320 for checks on whether the offender is known to MAPPA.
The Sex Offenders Act 1997 introduced the requirement for people convicted of certain sex offences to register with the Police. All such people are subject to the MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) process.
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.
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.
In some civil cases, e.g. Care Proceedings, findings of fact have been made and should be responded to as if there was a conviction.
It is important for all agencies to be clear about the need and the reasons for exchanging information about people considered to be a risk to children. Unless exceptional circumstances apply, the subject of the information should be informed of the intention to share. For detailed guidance, see Information Sharing and Confidentiality Procedure.
It is not the transfer of information itself which protects children, but the assessment and action which that information enables. Therefore, it is important that information is full enough to enable effective analysis and assessment to take place.
When a decision is taken to transfer information about a person who is considered to be dangerous, this should include:
- Personal details, i.e. full name, date of birth, relevant addresses;
- Details of the offender, type of offence and date;
- Details of sentence (if applicable);
- Victim details, i.e. full name, date of birth, relationship to offender;
- Current relevance of the offence, including known or likely contact with children.
This will enable those undertaking a Section 47 Enquiry to have access to the full facts so that the decision-making process can operate effectively.
The MAPPA SMB and the NSCB have an agreement in place to ensure there is effective cooperation and communication between the SMB and NSCB and a clear understanding of responsibilities in respect of MAPPA.
(For further information on MAPPA please see the MAPPA Guidance 2012).
The statutory basis and purpose of MAPPA
Section 325 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (“CJA 2003”) imposes a statutory duty on the Police, Probation and Prison Services in the 42 MAPPA areas in England and Wales to establish arrangements to assess and manage the risks posed by:
- Relevant sexual and violent offenders; and
- Other persons who, by reason of offence(s) they have committed, are considered by the Responsible Authority to be persons who may cause serious harm to the public.
The statutory framework which has been established for the assessment and management of sexual and violent offenders is usually referred to as MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements). Rather than being a statutory body in itself, MAPPA exists as a statutory framework within which participating agencies operate. All agencies participating in MAPPA therefore retain their full statutory responsibilities and obligations at all times.
In addition to the participation of the Responsible Authority (“RA”) agencies in MAPPA, Section 325(3) of the CJA 2003 establishes that other agencies have a “duty to co-operate” (“DTC”) with the RA within the MAPPA framework. Agencies currently specified to participate within MAPPA include:
- Local Authority Children’s Services Departments;
- Local Education Authorities;
- Local Authority Social Services Departments;
- Youth Offending Teams;
- Local Health Board(s);
- Jobcentre Plus;
- Local Housing Authorities;
- Registered Social Landlords which accommodate MAPPA offenders;
- Electronic Monitoring providers;
- UK Visas and Immigration.
Under Section 325(8) of the CJA 2003, the Secretary of State has issued national MAPPA Guidance. Being public bodies, all RA and DTC agencies have a duty imposed by public law to have regard to this guidance in exercising their functions under MAPPA.
The core function of MAPPA
The primary purpose of MAPPA is to co-ordinate the involvement of different agencies in assessing the risk presented by offenders and ensures that any risk is managed effectively for the protection of the public. Participation in the MAPPA framework enables RA and DTC agencies to undertake more effectively their work in reducing the risk of serious harm presented by offenders.
The MAPPA Strategic Management Board (SMB)
The MAPPA SMB is the means by which the RA fulfils its duties under section 326 (1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to:
‘keep the arrangements (i.e. MAPPA) under review with a view to monitoring their effectiveness and making any changes to them that appear necessary or expedient.’
The SMB is therefore responsible for managing MAPPA activity in its area. This will include reviewing its operations for quality and effectiveness and planning how to accommodate any changes as a result of legislative changes, national guidance or wider criminal justice changes. The Secretary of State retains the power to issue guidance to the RA on the discharge of its functions under MAPPA. The SMB are responsible for the implementation of the MAPPA Guidance in their area, in line with local initiatives and priorities.
The Statutory Basis and Purpose of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) as set out in Working Together 2015 can be found in Local Safeguarding Children Board – Role and Function.
Information sharing between Boards
Information will be shared between the MAPPA SMB and the Norfolk SCB boards in a necessary and proportionate manner with lawful authority. Timely and confident information sharing is critical to both public protection and children’s safeguarding. Both boards will ensure:
- Relevant information is shared within the above context in the interests of public protection and the safeguarding of children and the statutory responsibility of both boards;
- Information will be marked and securely stored in line with Government Protected Marking Scheme (GPMS);
- The NSCB Business Manager will ensure that relevant strategic information from the SMB is presented to the NSCB and ensure that any relevant information from the NSCB is taken to the Board via the representative;
- Strategic information will be shared with MAPPA via the SMB secretariat;
- MAPPA has a responsibility for disclosure and both boards will be aware of responsibilities under the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme. There will be a clear audit trail where disclosure has been agreed as necessary;
- Each board should consider the role of the other when reviewing individual cases.
The Norfolk MAPPA SMB will:
- Share relevant strategic information with the NSCB Business Managers and Chair;
- Share learning from any case reviews undertaken by the SMB that have any child safeguarding issues so that the NSCB can be made aware;
- Ensure that, where possible, duplication of SCRs are avoided by identifying whether an NSCB SCR is taking place;
- Ensure that, when a MAPPA SCR has been agreed, timescales are considered and agreed with the relevant NSCB where there may be two separate SCRs taking place;
- Provide training opportunities for Duty to Co-operate agencies;
- Ensure that safeguarding needs of children are kept as a priority both for the SMB and MAPPA Chairs;
- The SMB will ensure that it fulfils its responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, and manages the risk of harm young offenders present to others;
- Ensure that strategic safeguarding issues brought to their attention are communicated to the NSCB Business Manager.
The Local Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) will:
The NSCB within the Norfolk MAPPA area will appoint one representative who will sit on the Norfolk MAPPA SMB and act as liaison with NSCB to ensure that there are effective lines of interaction in relation to;
- Representing the views of NSCB at the SMB meetings;
- Communicating any relevant issues back to NSCB Business Manager;
- Liaise as required in relation to any new guidance or training that should be developed in light of serious case reviews or Government publications for either NSCB or the SMB;
- Escalate any strategic issues identified by either NSCB or the SMB.
NSCB have a function of strategic oversight, therefore direct referrals into MAPPA will not occur.
Local safeguarding agencies are responsible for referring cases into multi-agency process in a timely manner and attending/co-operating appropriately in line with statutory functions.
The NSCB is responsible for ensuring overall effectiveness of those agencies in safeguarding children and promoting their welfare.
Local Operational Management Arrangements
- NSCB Business Manager will attend quarterly SMB meetings;
- NSCB Business Manager to be included on any mailing list relating to SMB business;
- Norfolk MAPPA Co-ordinator to attend quarterly NSCB board meetings;
- Norfolk MAPPA Co-ordinator, MAPPA SMB Chair, NSCB Business Manager and NSCB chair to meet annually to review process.