6.1 Risk Management of Individuals Who Pose a Risk of Harm to Children
This chapter is currently under review.
- 1. Identification of Individuals who Pose a Risk of Harm to Children
- 2. Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)
- 3. Developing Intelligence About Organised or Persistent Offenders
- 4. Release of Individuals who Pose a Risk to Children
- 5. Parole or Temporary Release of Individuals who may Pose a Risk to Children
- 6. Assessment of Young People who may Pose a Risk to Children
- 7. Disclosure of Information by Local Authority
1. Identification of Individuals who Pose a Risk of Harm to Children
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. These terms are no longer used and have been replaced with the term ‘Individuals who Pose a Risk to Children’.
Interim guidance (‘Guidance on offences against children’ Home Office Circular 16/2005) has been issued explaining how those individuals should be identified. An offender will not automatically be regarded as posing a continued risk of harm to children by virtue of the nature of his or her conviction. A conviction for certain offences set out in the interim guidance, however, will trigger a further assessment to determine if the offender should be regarded as ‘posing a risk of harm to children’. This assessment will be undertaken as part of the MAPPA process (see Section 2, Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)) or by Surrey Children's Services in the circumstances set out in Sections 7, Disclosure of Information by Local Authority.
Indicators of people who may pose a risk to children include:
- Those cautioned or convicted of specified offences and in respect of whom an assessment has determined that they pose a continuing risk of harm to children (see (‘Guidance on Offences against Children’ Home Office Circular 16/2005 ) (see paragraph above);
- Individuals against whom there is a previous finding in civil proceedings e.g. Sexual Offences Prevention Order or Risk of Sexual Harm Orders or Notification orders or Care Proceedings;
- Those about whom there has been a previous Section 47 Enquiry which came to the conclusion that there had been abuse and the individual poses a continuing risk of harm to children;
- An individual who has admitted past abuse of a child and who is assessed as posing a continuing risk of harm to children;
- Others whose past or present behaviour gives rise to a reason to suspect that he or she poses a continuing risk of significant harm to a child e.g. a history of domestic violence and other serious assaults;
- Offenders against adults who are notified to Surrey Children's Services, because the prison or Probation Providers are concerned about the possible risk to children;
- Offenders who come to the attention of the MAPPA.
Once an individual has been convicted, sentenced and/or assessed as presenting a risk to children, agencies have a responsibility to work collaboratively to monitor and manage the risk and this procedure will apply.
2. Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)
The full MAPPA guidance is available at Ministry of Justice website
The Sex Offenders Act 1997 requires those (of any age) who are cautioned or convicted of specified sexual offences against a child (or certain very serious sexual offences against adults) to inform the police of changes of name and address for a given period of time.
All agencies must inform the police if they are aware of a sex offender who has changed their address, or is planning to move, without informing the police.
The above also applies to offenders under the age of eighteen if they have been reprimanded, given a final warning or convicted.
Police and probation have statutory responsibilities under Sections 67 and 68 of the Criminal Justice Act 2000 to establish in consultation with partner agencies, ‘multi-agency public protection arrangements’ (MAPPA).
Section 67 requires police and probation to:
- Establish arrangements for the assessment and management of risks posed by relevant sexual and violent offenders and other persons who, by reason of offences committed by them are considered to be persons who may cause serious harm to the public;
- Monitor an review the arrangements made and make any necessary or expedient changes;
- Publish an annual report.
Identification of MAPPA offenders: Sections 67 and 68 also define those offenders in respect of whom arrangements must be made. The total offender population that falls within the remit of MAPPA comprises the following:
Category 1: all locally registered sex offenders
Category 2: all violent and other sex offenders currently subject to MAPPA
Category 3: any other offenders, not already identified in Categories 1 and 2, who are considered by the responsible authority to pose a risk of serious harm to the public (in exceptional cases MAPPA may include consideration of an individual who has not, to date, been convicted or cautioned but who are considered to pose a risk of serious harm to the public)
The national framework for MAPPA identifies the following three separate though connected mechanisms by which public protection can be most efficiently managed.
Level 1: Ordinary Risk Management
This is where the risks posed by the offender can be managed by one agency without significantly involving other agencies.
Level 2: Local Inter-agency Risk Management
This is used where significant involvement from more that one agency is required, but where either the level of risk or the complexity of managing the risk is not so great as to require referral to level 3.
Level 2 meetings will be held monthly between Police, Probation, Children’s Services and any other relevant agency. These are convened by Police, and chaired by the PPIU DI.
The meeting will assess the level of risk posed by the offender, and agree a risk management plan which is reviewed at subsequent level 2 meetings.
Whilst each agency retains responsibility and accountability for its own practice, there is an expectation that agencies will contribute to the agreed plan. In exceptional circumstances, where agreement cannot be reached and the public protection needs remain critical to public safety, the case will be referred to the MAPPP.
Where the circumstances of a case indicate that the public protection needs requires either exceptional resources or raises an exceptional public profile, the case must immediately be referred to the MAPPP.
Level 3: Multi-Agency Public Protection Panel (MAPPP)
This relates to the ‘critical few’ and includes and offender who:
Presents risks that can only be managed by a plan that requires close co-operation at a senior level, due to the complexity of the case and/or because of the unusual resource commitments it requires;and
Although not assessed as being a high or very high risk, the case is exceptional because of likelihood of a high level of media scrutiny and/or public interest in the management of the case, and there is a need to ensure that public confidence in the criminal justice system is sustained.
The principle of referring cases to the appropriate level for management applies, where the public protection needs are most efficiently addressed, and cases should return to level 2 or 1 as soon as the exceptional nature of these cases has been addressed.
Assessment of the Risk of Serious Harm
The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) assesses risk of harm using the Offender Assessment System (OASys). The Youth Justice Board uses ASSET for under 18 year olds. The levels of risk are as follows:
- Low: no significant current indicators of risk of harm;
- Medium: identifiable indicators of risk of harm. The offender has the potential to cause harm, but is unlikely to do so unless there is a change in circumstances - e.g. failure to take medication, loss of accommodation, relationship breakdown, 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 harm. The potential event is likely to happen imminently, and the impact to be serious.
Response of Surrey Children's Services
On notification or discovery of an individual in the community who may pose a risk to children, the Surrey Children's Services must treat this information as a child protection referral.
An Assessment incorporating a Section 47 Enquiry must be initiated if the individual who poses a risk to children is living in a household with children, has contact with children or poses a risk to children in the area.
Checks (including the prison service that may hold important information) must be undertaken to establish:
- Any children believed to have been abused by the individual in the past;
- Other children who are believed to have been in contact with the individual in the past any may therefore have been at risk;
- Children with whom the individual is currently in contact in a family or work/voluntary setting;
- Children (or groups of children) with whom the individual may seek contact, such as children attending a school located near the home of an individual known to target such children.
All assessments of risk must consider the:
- Needs of the children affected;
- Level and pattern of abusing or offending behaviour, including behaviour thought to have occurred, but which has not led to a criminal conviction;
- Level of protection which is likely to be provided by other significant adults;
- Ability of the children to protect themselves.
A Child Protection Conference must be convened if the threshold criteria are met (see Initial Child Protection Conference Procedure) and if any children require continuing protection, the Assessment must consider the need for therapeutic intervention and/or family support services.
3. Developing Intelligence About Organised or Persistent Offenders
Surrey Police Public Protection Investigation Units (PPIU) develop intelligence about organised or persistent offenders who pose a risk to children.
Surrey Police has a dedicated Registration & Assessment Officer (RAO) responsible for the:
- Collation and dissemination of relevant intelligence to local, area and central police data bases regarding persons likely to be committing offences against children;
- Initiation of pro active assessment and task plans regarding identified suspects and controlling or assisting with the progression of these plans within the police;
- Submission of intelligence reports through the appropriate channels for action in cases where suspects are committing offences outside the Surrey Force Area;
- Preparation of information to be shared within MAPPA;
- Liaison with Surrey Police On Line Investigation Team (POLIT).
4. Release of Individuals who Pose a Risk to Children
When a prisoner identified as posing a risk to children is to be released at the end of her/his sentence, the Head of Surrey Children's Services and Chief Probation Officer must, prior to the release date, be informed by the prison probation officer.
If there are children at the household where the prisoner intends to live, an Assessment incorporating a Section 47 Enquiry must be initiated.
5. Parole or Temporary Release of Individuals who may Pose a Risk to Children
When a prisoner identified as posing a risk to children is being considered for parole or is to be released from custody on a temporary basis, the prison probation officer must, in writing inform the Head of Surrey Children's Services for the area where the prisoner is expected to reside on release, with a copy sent to the Chief Probation Officer for the area concerned.
Where the prisoner is being considered for parole, the prison probation officer must request comments from the Head of Surrey Children's Services on the prisoners release with particular reference to the effects which release could have upon any children at the address at which the prisoner is expected to live.
Probation staff must interview those living at the address to assess the home circumstances and, if appropriate, authorise the provision of accommodation to the prisoner.
Depending on the risk involved, probation staff may conduct a home visit jointly with the police.
The significance of the risk posed by the individual for any child living or likely to visit the address must be established and the Surrey Children's Services informed.
For any child identified by the probation officer as either living or likely to visit the address, Surrey Children's Services must undertake an Assessment of potential risk in relation to the release of the prisoner.
The social worker must identify in writing any child protection issues arising from the proposed release of a prisoner to a specified address and indicate any action that Surrey Children's Services may need to undertake to protect the child(ren) in the household.
The probation officer for the local area must share her/his report, with the appropriate Surrey Children's Services Team.
If the prisoner is to be released to an address with a child(ren), an Assessment incorporating a Section 47 Enquiry must be initiated.
6. Assessment of Young People who may Pose a Risk to Children
This procedure should be considered along with Children Displaying Harmful Sexual Behaviour Procedure.
There is a need to distinguish between those young people under the age of eighteen who pose a significant risk to children and those who do not and where the circumstances of an offence do not indicate ongoing child protection concerns e.g. consensual sexual activity by children of a similar age.
Both the police and the appropriate worker from YOT must notify Surrey Children's Services Assessment Team whenever a young person is accused of, or convicted of an offence against another child, and assess if there is immediate risk to any child(ren) in the household or community.
The Surrey Children's Services Assessment Team manager must decide whether there is any immediate action necessary to protect the children.
Within 10 working days of the conviction, the YOT worker must:
Inform the young person and her/his family of the implications of the assessment to determine whether he or she poses a risk to children
Submit a report the Head of Safeguarding Children’s Unit and CSC ATM, outlining the context of the offence, available evidence, age differential between the young people, triggers to the offending, substance misuse and mental health issues
Recommend whether or not the young person should be regarded as posing a risk to children and if so, what further action should be invoked (the pre-sentence report and the assessment instrument used by YOT should be attached)
If the Assessment Team manager concludes that the young person should not be regarded as posing a risk to children and that further assessment is not required, a recommendation must be made to the Manager of the Safeguarding Children Unit that the young person should not be treated as an Individual who poses a Risk to Children. If authorised, the decision must be recorded on both Surrey Children's Services and YOT files.
Where there are convictions for sexual offences, there may be a requirement for registration on the Sex Offenders’ Register. In these circumstances, the YOT report and any Surrey Children's Services assessment and recommendations will be considered at the Level 2 meeting.
7. Disclosure of Information by Local Authority
This procedure applies when disclosure to third parties of information relating to the previous history of an Individual who poses a Risk to Children is being considered.
Subject to the conditions set out in Information Sharing Procedure, the general presumption is that information should not normally be disclosed, except if one of the following applies:
- Consent from the individual concerned;
- Statutory requirements or other duty;
- Duty to the public.
Legal advice should be sought where doubt exists as to the lawfulness of disclosure.
Exchange of information is essential for effective public protection. The MAPPA guidance clarifies howMAPPA agencies may exchange information among themselves, and with other people or organisations outside the MAPPA. Multi Agency Public Protection Panels (MAPPP) can recommend that agencies disclose information about offenders to a number of organisations, including schools and voluntary groups.
The absence of a conviction for child abuse in a criminal court does not prevent Surrey Children's Services from informing parents, carers or employer of the potential risk posed by someone who is assessed to pose a risk to children.
In view of the possibility of legal challenge by an individual, all agencies must, in addition to seeking any legal advice required maintain a written audit trail of events, actions, discussions, decisions and the reasons for them.
Prior to any decision by Surrey Children's Services to disclose information, a risk assessment must be undertaken (see Section 2, Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)), in order to establish what risks the alleged offender or suspected offender poses to children in the prevailing circumstances and the risks associated with disclosure.
The risk assessment must consider both enduring and changeable factors and take account of:
- The nature and pattern of previous offending;
- Compliance with previous sentences or court orders;
- Proximity of potential victims;
- Probability that a further offence will be committed;
- The harm such behaviour will cause;
- Any behaviour indicating likelihood that s/he will re-offend;
- Any expert opinion e.g. psychiatric;
- Any other relevant information e.g. specific vulnerability of child(ren).
The risk assessment must also consider the following risks:
- Displacing or increasing the offending;
- The offender may go ‘underground’;
- Potential consequences to the offender and her/his family;
- Potential consequences in the context of law and order;
- Any other operational considerations.
Where possible, the alleged / suspected offender should be consulted to provide information to assist the risk assessment.
The suspected / alleged offender should be given the opportunity to challenge the information on which the decision to disclose is being made, and the response considered as part of the risk assessment.
The Head of Safeguarding Children Unit and the legal department must be consulted regarding the possibility of disclosure and the decision taken by the service manager, in consultation with Police and Probation at a Strategy Meeting.
If the police do not support any planned disclosure based on the potential risk to an identified child, further legal advice must be taken.
Each decision to disclose must be justified on the likelihood of harm which non-disclosure might otherwise cause and the pressing need for such a disclosure.
Consideration must be given to other, less intrusive methods that might achieve any required objectives:
- If the offender is supervised by probation, the use of their powers may assist or obviate the need for disclosure;
- Consent to disclosure should be sought from the offender/alleged or suspected offender (unless this increases the risk to any child);
- Consideration should be given to allowing the offender/alleged or suspected offender to make the disclosure themselves, which may be sufficient to achieve the objective e.g. promise to move to less provocative surroundings (unless this increases the risk to any child).
Where a decision to disclose is agreed, the Strategy Meeting should consider:
- The nature of the information to be disclosed;
- The extent of its distribution;
- The timescales;
- Who will disclose the information and how;
- Advice and guidance to be given to the recipients regarding the use they are to make of the information;
- Identification of a contact person identified to provide further advice and guidance to the recipient.
Following disclosure, the social worker, must assess:
- How seriously the child / carer took the information;
- The carer’s ability and plans to protect the child;
- The carer’s immediate plans for protection.