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2.14 Persons posing a risk to children
- Definitions(Jump to)
- Risks(Jump to)
- Protection and action to be taken(Jump to)
- Offences for the Abuse of Children and Young People by Sexual Exploitation(Jump to)
- Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme(Jump to)
- Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s Law’)(Jump to)
- Further information(Jump to)
Person posing a risk to children
A person posing a risk to children is defined as a person (adult or child) who is:
- Convicted or charged with an offence against a child
- Convicted or charged with an offence in which a child has been harmed or was involved (including where a child sees, hears or experiences harm or ill-treatment cause to someone else)
- Identified as a risk of harm to a child(ren) even though they have not been charged or convicted of offences against/involving children.
- is assessed as posing a continuing risk of serious harm to a child(ren).
Serious harm is defined as:
“an event which is life threatening and/or traumatic and from which recovery, whether physical or psychological, can be expected to be difficult or impossible” HMPPS OAsys
Criminal Justice Agencies
When a person is alleged to have committed, charged or convicted of offences against and/or involving harm to children; Criminal Justice agencies (Police, Prison and Probation Service and Youth Offending Services) must appropriately record and flag the person as a “potential person posing a risk to children” on their approved system and then conduct an assessment in line with the relevant guidance; as to whether the person poses a continuing risk of serious harm to a child(ren); being clear about the nature and level of the risk.
Non-criminal justice agencies
Other agencies may also identify that a person is behaving in a way or receive information to suggest that they pose a risk of harm to children, through the course of their involvement with:
- Other children
- Adults who:
- Are parents or carers of children
- Have regular contact with a child(ren) for whom they do not have caring responsibility
- Work with children.
Non-criminal justice agencies
Non-criminal justice agencies who identify that a person poses or may pose a risk to children should refer to their local Thresholds document; and follow the Referrals procedure where appropriate.
Where there is evidence that the person has committed a crime against/involving a child(ren) concerns should also be reported to Police.
Criminal Justice agencies
Once an individual has assessed as presenting a continuing 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 monitor the individual’s risk to others and their behaviour and liaise 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. For cases open to offender managers, they should ensure that a flag is created on the relevant case management system to indicate that the individual poses a risk to children
Where a child or young person (under 18 years of age) offends against another child a thorough and specialist assessment should be undertaken to determine the extent to which they continue to pose a risk of harm to other children and young people. An assessment should also be undertaken to deliver services to respond to the needs of the young person who has offended. Work with children and young people who abuse others should recognise that such children are likely to have considerable needs themselves, and also that they may pose a significant risk of harm to other children or adults. It is important that the needs of the victim are responded to by the relevant agencies in their safeguarding role in order to ensure the safety, welfare, engagement, and continued support of the victim. A transparent multi-agency approach is crucial in facilitating access to education for offenders under the age of 18 years who pose a risk to children, to encompass support for disclosure, managing relationships with peers and safety for victims, offenders and young people within education settings. Further information is contained in 2.25 Children who abuse others including peer on peer abuse/harmful sexual behaviour.
Multi-agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) provide a statutory 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 young people) who are considered to pose a risk, or potential risk, of serious harm to the public.
Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 police, prisons and Probation Providers are required to establish and monitor arrangements in their area. Other agencies, including children’s and adult care services, health, housing, YOT’S, Jobcentre Plus and electronic monitoring services are under a statutory duty to co-operate with this task. For these arrangements to be effective, staff should be confident in their role and responsibilities in terms of MAPPA and understand the importance of sharing information in order to inform future risk management and to inform plans for risk reduction.
All agencies should ensure that their staff are familiar with how to make a referral to MAPPA and the possibility of seeking advice and consultation with the MAPPA coordinators if they require it.
MAPPA’s focus is on specified sexual and violent offenders in and returning to the community. It aims to ensure comprehensive risk assessments using co-ordinated information sharing and through this sharing of information, assess and manage risk and direct available resources in the best way to protect the public from serious harm.
Each area MAPPA has a Strategic Management Board (SMB) whose role is to ensure that the arrangements are working effectively and to establish and maintain working relationships with the local safeguarding partners.
There are three categories of offenders eligible for MAPPA:
- Registered sexual offenders (Category 1)
- Violent offenders (Category 2)
- Other dangerous offenders (Category 3)
In most cases, a MAPPA eligible offender will be managed without recourse to MAPPA meetings being managed under the ordinary arrangements by the relevant agency; the police for registered sexual offenders who are not on licence to probation, probation for violent offenders and those on a licence. Youth Offending Teams will lead with young offenders and Mental Health Services with those on hospital orders. A number of offenders require active multi-agency management and monitoring via multi-agency public protection (MAPP) meetings attended by various agencies.
The levels of management within the MAPPA framework are 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. This does not rule out the sharing of information.
- 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 require the involvement of senior officers to authorise the use of special resources and/or to provide ongoing senior management oversight.
Offenders will be moved up and down levels as appropriate.
Youth Offending Teams have a duty to identify cases that meet the MAPPA criteria and make appropriate referrals. 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 protect others from harm. Children’s social care services should always be represented at MAPPA meetings when a young person is being discussed. The needs of the victim also need to be fully considered and they should be kept informed of the procedures and processes that affect them.
All offenders managed at MAPPA Level 2 and 3 will have a risk management plan and a range of tools exist to support partner agencies to manage the risk an individual presents e.g. Violent Offender Order and Sexual Harm Prevention Orders. In addition, licence conditions can be imposed for any individual who is released from Prison to manage the risk that s/he presents.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 introduced a number of new offences to deal with those who abuse and exploit children and young people by sexual exploitation. The offences protect children and young people up to the age of 18 and include:
- Sexually exploiting a child by paying them for sex;
- Causing or inciting sexual exploitation of a child;
- Arranging or facilitating sexual exploitation of a child;
- Controlling a child in relation to sexual exploitation.
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme, also known as Sarah’s Law, allows parents, carers and guardians to formally ask the police to tell them if someone has a record for child sexual offences. The scheme which was started in 2008 is available across all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
Under the scheme, a parent, guardian or third party can make an application to find out if there is information which they need to know about in order to protect a child(ren) in their care. If there is a need to pass information to someone in order to allow them to better protect a child, then the police will disclose to whoever is in the best position to safeguard the child. This may, or may not be, not be the person who has made the application.
Practitioners should promote the scheme using some of the guidance documents available to ensure that where necessary parents, guardians and carers have the knowledge to enable them to make an application. However, the scheme does not replace the statutory duty to share information to safeguard children. If a practitioner knows that a child is at risk, due the risk associated with an individual, they do not need to advise people to make such an application. In such instances where a child is at risk practitioners can justifiably share information with the parent, guardian, or carer to safeguard the child.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS; also known as ‘Clare’s Law’) commenced in England and Wales in 2014. The DVDS gives members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquires about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be violent towards their partner. This scheme adds a further dimension to information sharing about children where there are concerns that domestic violence and abuse is impacting on the care and welfare of the children in the family. This process should only be used for those with concerns whom are not already engaged with any agencies who can provide help and share information.
Members of the public can make an application for a disclosure, known as the ‘right to ask’. Anybody can make an enquiry, but information will only be given to someone at risk or a person in a position to safeguard the victim. The scheme is for anyone in an intimate relationship, regardless of gender.
Partner agencies can also request disclosure is made of an offender’s past history where it is believed someone is at risk of harm. This is known as ‘right to know’.
If a potentially violent individual is identified as having convictions for violent offences, or information is held about their behaviour which reasonably leads the police and other agencies to believe they pose a risk of harm to their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information. A disclosure can be made if it is legal, proportionate and necessary to do so.