Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Out of the Shadows

The Law Society Gazette 2 July 2018 published an article by Rachel Rothwell - "Out of the Shadows."  The article notes the alarming number of recorded sexual offences against children under 16 - 43,522 offences in 2016-17 and goes on to consider a number of developments.  This post offers some additional material / links.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is an area of abuse that
has received huge media attention following the child grooming and CSE criminal trials, and reports into institutional failings of the Police and Social Services in places like Rotherham (Post 1 September 2014), Rochdale and Telford.

CSE is a form of abuse explained here by the NSPCC

Sammy's Law:

One victim of abuse in Rotherham advocated pardons for abuse victims who committed crimes under the direction of their own abuser - often referred to as "Sammy's Law."  The charity Rape Crisis supports a change in the law -

"We know that children who are groomed for sexual exploitation and sexual abuse can also be groomed or coerced by the same perpetrator(s) into committing crime. This is a tactic offenders use to further silence their victims, holding these crimes over them as a threat that, should they choose to speak out about the sexual abuse and exploitation they're experiencing, they themselves will get in trouble or be punished, or not be believed or taken seriously because they've broken the law.

Victims and survivors of sexual violence in childhood already have to live with the wide-ranging, often lifelong, sometimes devastating impacts of the abuse they've been subjected to. Expunging the criminal records they've acquired as a direct result of this terrible abuse is one way we can try to reduce the disadvantage that survivors and victims of child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation experience, and support them to move forward positively with their lives."

See Rape Crisis Supports Sammy's Law Campaign

Criminal Injuries Compensation:

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has come under criticism for its rules on the question  of "consent" to a crime - The Guardian 19 September 2017 and at 14 September 2017.

Rape Crisis calls for a full review and overhaul of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS), which it believes discriminates against victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation in a number of ways, including sometimes refusing claims on the basis of victims' criminal records.

Full details of Rape Crisis' concerns about the CICS can be found in this submission (September 2016) to the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA): https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents/886/view/CRI000003.pdf

The CICA has also been criticised for the "1979 same roof rule" and the abolition of this rule is supported by the IICSA.

In April 2018 the Inquiry published an Interim Report containing these recommendations -

Giving evidence:

In criminal cases, a complainant may be able to secure some protection by way of "special measures" when giving evidence.  The IICSA interim report went further and recommended that -

A further recommendation from IICSA was to "consider the feasibility of" a compulsory liability insurance for institutions (e.g. schools):

Duty to report:

A further reform being called for - see Mandate Now - is the introduction of a Duty to Report.  Here is a link to their ‘5 minute guide to Mandatory Reporting'  setting out what the Government needs to do to create solid foundations for effective child protection in Regulated Activities.

Interestingly, OFSTED has published guidance advising local authorities how they should report a serious incident of child abuse or neglect, or the death of a child who is looked after.

Some recent civil cases:

The Gazette article highlights the extension of vicarious liability in tort of local authorities for the actions of foster carers - Armes v Nottinghamshire CC [2017] UKSC 60 but also notes CN, GN v Poole Borough Council [2017] EWCA Civ 2185 where the Court of Appeal held that a local authority did not owe a duty to children who were being "traumatised" by "unruly neighbours."  The basis of the decision was that the local authority had not assumed responsibility for those children.  An appeal to the Supreme Court is to be heard on 16 and 17 July - Supreme Court list.  The bench is to be Lady Hale, Lord Reed, Lord Wilson, Lord Hodge, Lady Black.


Here is a link to material published by Northamptonshire Children Safeguarding Board

See also the Manchester Children Safeguarding Board Standard


Background to the CICA

Rotherham Independent Inquiry Report

Sexual Offences Act 2003 

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