SEFTON SCP Safeguarding Policies and Procedures Online Manual

    20.1 Children who Sexually Harm - Introduction

    Last updated 12/11/2018

    Children who Sexually Harm - Introduction

    This policy seeks to identify when sexual behaviour by children and young people should be considered harmful, or when it can be considered in the context of normal behaviours. The procedure which should be followed to identify assess and intervene with the child or young person who has displayed the behaviour are also set out below.

    Working Together 2010 (now archived) states in relation to children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour that: 

    • There should be a coordinated approach on the part of youth justice, children’s social care, education (including educational psychology), health (including child and adolescent mental health agencies) secure estates and police;
    • LSCBs and Youth Offending Teams should ensure that there is a clear operational procedure in place within which assessment, decision making, and case management should take place. Neither child welfare nor criminal justice agencies should embark on a course of action that has implications for the other without appropriate consultation.

    Furthermore Working Together 2018 states that:

    ‘Research has shown that taking a systematic approach to enquiries using a conceptual model is the best way to deliver a comprehensive assessment for all children.'

    The Criminal Justice Joint Inspection “‘Examining Multi-Agency Responses to Children and Young People who Sexually Offend”[1] highlighted that:

    • Cases were slow to get to court, and took an average eight months between disclosure and sentence, resulting in lengthy periods when little or no work was done with the young person; 
    • Much work was characterised by poor communication between the relevant agencies, with inadequate assessment and joint planning; 
    • Many young people had complex and multiple needs and positive examples of holistic interventions to address these delivered by a range of agencies were rare;
    • Once these children had been picked up by the justice system, their chances for rehabilitation improved and they clearly benefited by the child focused approach of YOT workers; and
    • Despite some successful outcomes, there was little evidence of routine evaluation at a strategic level of the quality and effectiveness of multi-agency work.

    Further support for early recognition and intervention came from the Chief Inspector of Probation, who reported on behalf of all inspectorates: 

    “The behaviour of this small but significant group of children and young people can be extremely damaging, often involving other children as victims. Yet the evidence from our inspection is that these children and young people do respond to intervention from youth offending teams and can be prevented from reoffending before developing entrenched patterns of behaviour.”

    “We were therefore very concerned to find that a sizable number of these children had been referred on previous occasions to children’s services but the significance of their sexual behaviour was not recognised or dismissed. This, to us represented a lost opportunity, both for the children themselves and their potential victims.”

    [1] The Joint Inspection by HMI Probation, Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, Care Quality Commission, Estyn, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, HMI Constabulary, HMI Prisons and Ofsted. February 2013.