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. 


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.


National Offender Management Service PUBLIC PROTECTION MANUAL 2016 Edition.

The manual is the guidance for prisons in relation to various aspects of public protection during a custodial sentence and in preparation for release. It includes assessing and managing risk, the role of the prison service within MAPPA and responsibilities relating to ViSOR (Violent and Sexual Offender Register, a database where information is held). Correspondence between prison and DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) is covered, along with safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children with other agencies. Included are the prison’s duties relating to: persons posing a risk to children; any child contact restrictions (including the prisoner’s children) during the prison sentence; and protection of the victims of harassment. How the establishment should deal with prisoners subject to sexual offender (SO) registration and notification and sexual orders (e.g SHPO) are covered. A table is presented of SO registration – Sentencing and age thresholds. Finally information is given pertaining to terrorist notification requirements and access to possession and display of materials within the prison.

NOMS Risk of Harm Guidance and Training Resources (2011).

This link to the National Offender Management Service (now Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service) Intranet takes you to an online resource covering risk assessment and management, and working with other agencies within the criminal justice system. It is designed for use for personnel within the prison and probation service individually, in group work or at training sessions. Training and managers notes are included. Each section has learning outcomes and it is made clear where supplementary training is necessary. Worksheets give the opportunity for self reflection and thoughts on scenarios or questions, at times with suggested answers. It is educational for anyone wanting to know more about the system (N.B latest update 2011).


Management and supervision of men convicted of sexual offences

A thematic inspection by HM Inspectorate of Probation and HM Inspectorate of Prisons, January 2019 © Crown copyright 2019.

The aim of this joint inspection was to assess the quality of services delivered both in prison and in the community and makes several recommendations. The statistics on number of sexual offenders, in prison and in the community puts into context the degree of work needed. Unfortunately, the report found “insufficient progress has been made since we last reported, on the then probation trusts in 2010” (p4). This report uncovers many shortfalls such as lack of training and support for personnel, lack of understanding of different strategies, poor communication and confusion regarding responsibilities. It also gives examples of good practice. The need for strength-based approaches runs through the report. Findings included a lack of evidence of work to reduce the likelihood of re-offending, both in prison and in the community. The glossary (annex 1) is useful for navigating around the various personnel and bodies involved and indeed the report does educate on who is involved with sexual offenders, their specific roles and how the various bodies should work together. It also includes mention of current treatment programmes and their availability.

The action plan, published April 2020 can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/management-and-supervision-of-men-convicted-of-sexual-offences