1.4.37 Risks Posed by People with Convictions Against Children
RELEVANT GUIDANCEMAPPA Guidance (Ministry of Justice)
1. People who Pose a Risk to Children
The terms 'Schedule One Offender' and 'Schedule One Offence' were commonly used for anyone convicted of an offence against a child listed in Schedule One of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. However, a conviction for an offence in Schedule One does not trigger any statutory requirement in relation to child protection issues; inclusion within the definition of Schedule One Offender was determined solely by the age of the victim and the offence for which the offender was sentenced, rather than by an assessment of future risk of harm to children.
For this reason, the terms Schedule One offence and Schedule One Offender are no longer used and have been replaced by reference to People who Pose a Risk to Children. This clearly indicates that the person has been identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, to children.
Once an individual has been sentenced and identified as presenting a 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 in the National Probation Service have responsibility for monitoring the individual's risk to others and their behaviour, and liaising 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.
2. Assessing Risk
Only an analysis of the context and seriousness of the offence(s) linked to an analysis of the current circumstances will enable professionals to make a valid assessment of risk.
It must be noted that professionals can only look at the known facts. Speculation as to the reasons and circumstances of any plea, are generally unsafe. Similarly, reliance upon the type of offence for which someone is convicted is not necessarily a reliable indicator of its seriousness.
3. Factors to Consider
When undertaking an assessment of risk it is important to consider a number of factors.
These will include:
- The date of the offence;
- The age of the perpetrator in relation to the victim;
- The type of offence;
- The degree of coercive or threatening behaviour;
- The pattern of offending;
- The circumstances of the offence;
- Any subsequent assessments of risk;
- The offender's attitude to the offence.
4. Management of Convicted Sex Offenders
The Sex Offenders Act 1997 introduced the requirement for people convicted of certain sex offences to register with the Police. All such people are subject to the MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) process governed by an inter-agency protocol drawn up by the West Yorkshire Police and Probation Services.
5. Concerns about People Suspected of Offences
These must be addressed with caution. However, a lack of conviction for a criminal offence does not necessarily mean that a response under these procedures or through the civil courts is inappropriate.
In such cases legal and professional advice should be sought.
In some civil cases, e.g. Care Proceedings, findings of fact have been made and should be responded to as if there was a conviction.
6. Sharing Information
It is important for all agencies to be clear about the need and the reasons for exchanging information about people considered to pose a risk to children. Unless exceptional circumstances apply, the subject of the information should be informed of the intention to share. For detailed guidance, see Information Sharing Procedure.
It is not the transfer of information itself which protects children, but the assessment and action which that information enables. Therefore, it is important that information is full enough to enable effective analysis and assessment to take place.
When a decision is taken to transfer information about a person who is considered to be dangerous, this should include:
- Personal details, i.e. full name, date of birth, relevant addresses;
- Details of the offender, type of offence and date;
- Details of sentence (if applicable);
- Victim details, i.e. full name, date of birth, relationship to offender;
- Current relevance of the offence, including known or likely contact with children.
This will enable those undertaking a Section 47 Enquiry to have access to the full facts so that the decision-making process can operate effectively.