Prosecuting Sexual Offences Report. A Report by JUSTICE.

© JUSTICE 2019.
Chair of the Committee HH Peter Rook QC.

JUSTICE is an all-party law reform and human rights organisation. This Working Party set out to identify where the system could become more efficient (in view of the increasing numbers of offences and the criminal justice system struggling with the workload). However, they actually take a more holistic view. ‘An approach that understands what causes sexual offending and seeks to address this through efforts that prevent crime, divert from prosecution and reduce reoffending, is key’. Prevention through education for both perpetrator and children, voluntary risk management programmes, and how sexual offending may be reduced are examined. Improving witness evidence, and the legal process through to sentencing are considered and a revised approach to Sexual Harm Prevention Orders and notification requirements is recommended. The report’s recommendations are made with the aim of a greater focus on evidence based policies to seek to reduce the level of sexual offending.

Key messages from research on identifying and responding to disclosures of child sexual abuse.

Debra Allnock, Pam Miller and Helen Baker. University of Bedfordshire and NSPCC. September 2019.

This review of research presents different aspects of the impact of disclosure of child abuse by a child, adolescent or adult. The different ways in which children disclose are covered. The mode of communication, may be verba (directly telling or indirectly – by e.g. saying does not want to go somewhere), or non-verbal by actions. Spontaneity or intent may be factors. Children may want teachers to notice signs such as self-harm, eating disorders, acting out in class, and being alone and withdrawn at school.

Disclosure can be traumatic and have both short and long term effects on children’s emotional wellbeing and need to be handled correctly. Some children report feeling ‘relief’ and ‘pride’ after disclosing. However, children also report feeling embarrassment, anger and sadness.

Younger children are more likely to confide in a parent or family member, while adolescents are more likely to confide in a friend or peer. Professionals in universal settings such as health and education are well placed to identify children who are experiencing – or have experienced – abuse and may be trying to communicate this. Teachers are the professionals to whom children most commonly make initial disclosures. Seldom is it to police or social workers.

Professionals should consider appropriate support for children, and their families, in the immediate period following disclosure.

How Safe are our Children. An overview of data on child abuse online. NSPCC 2019.

The online world continues to be unacceptably dangerous for children with social media companies not giving thought to how safe their sites are. This report looks at children’s use of different social media platforms, what could be done to make this safer and lists the forms of online abuse.

Data for indicators are presented which examine the experience of abuse, give the crime statistics, and those from helplines and the internet watch foundation, knowledge around safety and what needs to be done to improve online safety. Each element is discussed by an expert, giving further insight into each topic area.

CPS: Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Report. 2018-19.


(Includes data on men and boys).

This crime report details areas of Domestic Abuse and Stalking; Rape; So-called ‘honour-based’ abuse, female genital mutilation and forced marriage; Child sexual Abuse; and Modern Slavery. Chief Crown Prosecutor leads for each of these strands are introduced. Context, Key CPS data and Analysis, Actions taken to improve prosecution performance, and Future Priorities are given for each of the groups of offences. Detailed data are given for each strand (with some breakdowns into different offences) which includes pre-and post-charge decisions, CPS consultation numbers, timelines, prosecution outcomes, reasons for non-convictions and equalities data.

SUMMARY: Adverse childhood experiences summary. What we know, what we don’t know, and what should happen next.

Kirsten Asmussen, Freyja Fischer, Elaine Drayton and Tom McBride. The Early Intervention Foundation. February 2020.

This research charity focuses on promoting and enabling an evidence-based approach to early intervention. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traditionally understood as a set of 10 traumatic events or circumstances occurring before the age of 18 that have been shown through research to increase the risk of adult mental health problems and debilitating diseases. Five of these relate to forms of abuse. However, other adverse events exist and should not be ignored. The lack of evidence in several areas is highlighted.

Puppet on a string: The urgent need to cut children free from sexual exploitation.

© Barnardo’s, 2011.

The policy recommendations set out in this report are focused on England, but it is acknowledged that this is a UK-wide issue that needs to be addressed by governments across the UK.

The case is made for: Raising awareness to improve early identification of child sexual exploitation; Improving statutory responses and the provision of services universal to specialist services; Improving the evidence; Improving prosecution procedures.

Now I know it was wrong: Report of the Parliamentary inquiry into support and sanctions for children who display harmful sexual behaviour

© Barnardo’s, 2016

This inquiry determined to consider several aspects of harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) from it’s definition, prevalence and who is at risk, effect of internet, to whether current legislation, policy and practice are fit for purpose. It considers links between HSB and child sexual exploitation and explores how effectively the police, criminal justice system, health services and schools respond to HSB and whether changes in policy or practice are needed.

It’s main recommendations are:

1. Children who display harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) should be treated as children first and foremost.

2. The Government should work with relevant partners to develop a national strategy for preventing and responding to harmful sexual behaviour in children

3. The Government should work closely with schools, local government, the voluntary sector and others to: a. Improve support for parents in keeping their children safe from HSB; b. Increase children’s knowledge and understanding of safe and healthy relationships; and c. Restrict access to inappropriate online content. Improving responses to HSB and improving prevention will require a multi-faceted approach.

4. The Government should work with partners to commission research to further our understanding of HSB, in order to: a. Improve identification of children at risk; b. Improve prevention of HSB and CSE/A; c. Identify gaps in provision; d. Improve the effectiveness of interventions; e. Improve outcomes for children who display HSB.

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was set up in the wake of some serious high profile instances of non-recent child sexual abuse and because the government had concerns that some organisations were failing and were continuing to fail to protect children from sexual abuse. They are examining what went wrong and why, and will challenge those institutions responsible. The evidence gathered will inform recommendations to help protect children in the future. They have a research programme which will fill gaps in the knowledge about child sexual abuse.

They run ‘The Truth Project’ which offers the opportunity for victims and survivors to share their experience and be respectfully heard and acknowledged.  By doing so, they will help us to better understand the long term impact of abuse. 

https://www.iicsa.org.uk/

Internet Watch Foundation: Technology Briefing Series

This report from January 2018 entitled ‘Online Child Sex Abuse Imagery’(CSAI) shows that the UK has made huge strides in tackling imagery online, but that the problem globally is as big as ever with most of the material being hosted in Europe (60%) and North America (37%). The report was produced at the time that the government were consulting on the Internet Safety Strategy, which contained a number of proposals of what social media companies should do. Seven areas are identified of how government, tech companies and the media might help in combatting imagery: Focus on the Top of the ‘Pyramid’; Improve Measurements of Online CSAI; Facilitate Sharing and Cooperation; Invest in Technology; Educate; A Greater Focus on Prevention; Report Responsibly.

https://www.iwf.org.uk/news/fight-against-online-child-sexual-abuse-content-being-won-uk-but-global-threat-remains-as-big