SEFTON SCP Safeguarding Policies and Procedures Online Manual

    20.7 Procedure Process (AIM Project)

    Last updated 12/11/2018



    For all cases where there are concerns about harmful sexual behaviour, Children's Social Care and the Police need to be informed. They will hold an Initial AIM Strategy Discussion or to arrange a multi-agency Strategy Discussion within 24 hours of disclosure in relation to the alleged abusing child and the child victim where there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child concerned has experienced or is at risk of Significant Harm.

    There are occasions where the behaviour is not thought to be serious enough to warrant intervention and the matter may be dealt with through a Police caution, or through a Common Assessment Framework and Team around the Child response. These decisions should not be taken lightly and as a general rule of thumb the behaviours should be considered symptomatic of un-met need in a child or young person. However it is important that behaviour of this nature should always be reported into Children Social Care so that a record is made and future assessments can take this information into account.

    The decision on how to proceed is made after an initial Aim Strategy Discussion:

    1. Into a child protection route;
    2. Into a criminal justice route; Inclusive of Out of Court Disposal (OCD)
    3. Sometimes both pathways will be running in conjunction with each other.


    This procedure applies to all children and young people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour and are not entering the criminal justice system:

    • Case comes to the attention of Children Social Care and a Strategy Meeting is held within 24 hours involving the Police, Children’s Social Care and the Youth Offending Service (for the over 8 years) and any other agencies who have important information such as Health and Education;
    • Agree temporary risk management strategy based on the information available;
    • Any criminal aspects of the alleged abuse are investigated;
    • Information relevant to the protection and needs of the alleged victim is gathered;
    • A decision is taken regarding whether a Section 47 investigation is conducted and from which an AIM or AIM2 assessment is commissioned (see Section 7.8, AIM2 Assessments);
    • Co work assessors are allocated to complete the relevant AIM assessment from Children’s Services, Early help Locality services, Youth Offending Service or Child And Mental Health Services (CAMHS);
    • Children Social Care take the role of lead agency;
    • Information is collected from professionals and relevant agencies;
    • Interviews are carried out with the young person their family and other significant persons;
    • The assessment is completed and written into a report format (see Section 7.8, AIM2 Assessments for further detail);
    • The multi-agency Aim Review meeting to which parents and the young person are invited is held (see Section 7.9, AIM Review Meeting for further detail);
    • The outcomes of the assessment report are considered and an intervention plan is agreed;
    • Review dates are set to monitor progress and review the intervention plan as required;
    • Where Strategy Discussions (Section 47 or AIM ) or meetings are required for both the child or young person who has displayed harmful sexual behaviour and the child(ren) or young person who is the victim, consideration should be given to the need to hold separate Strategy Discussions or Meetings;
    • Where separate Strategy Discussions/Meetings are held, care must be taken to ensure that the appropriate professionals attend the relevant meeting in order to provide confidentiality for the children involved. For example, school representatives should only attend the meeting involving the pupil at their school. The police officer and social workers who are conducting the enquiries should participate in both sets of Strategy Discussions.

    Section 47 Enquiries and Assessment

    If it appears that either the child who has displayed harmful sexual behaviour or the victim has suffered, or is at risk of suffering Significant Harm, the Section 47 Enquiry will be conducted. Relevant considerations include:

    • The nature and extent of the harmful behaviours and the impact on the victim;
    • The context of the abusive behaviours;
    • The age of the children involved;
    • The child's development and family and social circumstances;
    • Whether the child acknowledges the alleged behaviour;
    • Whether there are grounds to suspect that either/any child has been abused or that adults have been involved in the development of the harmful sexual behaviour;
    • Both children's needs for services;
    • The risk the child who has displayed harmful sexual behaviour poses to him/herself and others, including other children in the household, extended family, school, peer group or wider social network; and
    • Whether an AIM / AIM2 assessment should be undertaken.

    The risk of further harm by the child who has displayed sexually harmful behaviour is likely to be present unless: the opportunity to further abuse is ended, the child has acknowledged the abusive behaviour and accepted responsibility and there is agreement by the child and his/her family to work with relevant agencies to address the problem and participate in an AIM/ AIM2 assessment.

    If during the course of the assessment there are concerns about any risks to other children posed by the perpetrator child, a multi-agency meeting should be convened straight away in order to develop:

    • A written risk management plan in relation to any child identified as at potential risk; including educational and accommodation arrangements both for the perpetrator child and the potential victim(s);
    • Appropriate arrangement for the continuation of the assessment and the need for any specialist assessment; and
    • How the services to be provided will be coordinated.

    Outcomes of Section 47 Enquiries - The Child who has Displayed Harmful Sexual Behaviour

    If the information gathered in the course of the Section 47 Enquiry suggests that the child who is suspected or alleged to have sexually abused another child is also a victim, or potential victim, of abuse including neglect, a Child Protection Conference must be convened. A representative from the YOS team should be invited to the Initial Child Protection Conference.

    If the child becomes the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the coordination of services will continue through the Core Group, which should address the child's inappropriate behaviour, the potential risks the child poses to others as well as the concerns which resulted in the need for a Child Protection Plan.

    Where the Section 47 investigation or Child Protection Conference concludes that the child who is suspected or alleged to have sexually abused does not require a Child Protection Plan, consideration should be given to the need for services to address any sexually abusive behaviour and the inter-agency responsibility to manage any risks.

    Where there are no grounds for a Child Protection Conference, but concerns remain regarding the child's sexually problematic behaviour, (s)he will be considered as a Child in Need, and managed at the appropriate level of team around the child.

    Criminal Justice Route with AIM Assessment Informing The Decision Making

    This procedure applies to young people over the age of criminal responsibility (10 years) where the Police want to have more information before making a decision to prosecute or issue an Out of Court Disposal:

    • Young person admits sexual offence. Bailed or Released Under Under Ivestigation for 28 days or for a timescale considered appropriate;
    • Police contact Children’s Social Care and Youth offending service to trigger AIM2 assessment;
    • Co- workers are allocated from Youth Offending Service/Ealrly Help Locality Services and Children’s Social Care;
    • Youth Offending takes the role of lead agency; Unsure if this needs to read post prosecution, depends if lead on delivery or decisions making????
    • Information is collected from professionals and relevant agencies;
    • Interviews are carried out with the young person, their family and significant other persons;
    • AIM2 assessment is completed and written into a report format (see Section 7.8, AIM2 Assessments for further detail);
    • Based on AIM2 assessment the Police/Crown Prosecution Service will make a decision regarding appropriate disposal. The Police at this point may still make a decision to charge. (See Section 7.7, A Case Within The Criminal Justice Process for further detail);
    • A multi-agency AIM Review meeting, to which the parents and young person is invited (see Section 7.9, AIM Review Meeting for further detail);
    • The outcomes of the assessment report are considered and an intervention plan is agreed;
    • Review dates are set to monitor progress and review the intervention plan as required;
    • AIM assessments which are completed will be submitted for advance disclosure.

    Criminal Justice Route Proceeding Straight to Prosecution

    This procedure applies to young people over the age of criminal responsibility (10 years) where the Police have made a decision to prosecute immediately because the offence is so serious or there are previous convictions.

    • Young Person is charged with a sexual offence;
    • Young person appears before Court;
    • If a not guilty plea is entered the legal process continues and no AIM2 assessment is done at this point;
    • If a young person enters a guilty plea or is found guilty the Court will request a Pre-Sentence Report and should be asked to give sufficient time to complete and AIM2 assessment to inform the Pre-Sentence Report;
    • Youth Offending will carry out an AIM2 assessment to inform the Pre-Sentence Report (see Section 7.8, AIM2 Assessments for further detail);
    • Youth Offending service will make a proposal to the Court for an appropriate disposal;
    • An intervention plan will be formulated and roles and responsibilities identified (see Section 7.7, A Case Within The Criminal Justice Process below for further detail).

    When a child is aged 10 or over and is alleged to have committed an offence, the first interview must be undertaken by the Police under the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

    A Case Within The Criminal Justice Process

    A decision to complete an AIM2 assessment may be delayed until the young person has been to court and a plea has been entered. Young people who deny an alleged offence will not go through the initial AIM2 assessment process at this stage. However those young people who deny the offence but are later found guilty, or change their plea, will be subsequently assessed and the model can be an appropriate framework to inform a pre-sentence report.

    In all such cases it is important that an AIM2 initial assessment is carried out. The young person and their parent / carers will be asked by the assessors to participate in this process. If consent is not given, but concern remains, an assessment can still be undertaken drawing on existing information.

    For those young people who are immediately charged, the assessment will be triggered by their admission of guilt in court or by them having been found guilty in court. At this point a request for an adjournment should be made in order to carry out the initial assessment, which will inform the pre-sentence report.

    In those cases where a young person commits a further offence whilst on bail, their bail status will be reviewed. Do we need to clarify if this is Police Bail and or Court bail

    Where it is concluded there is insufficient evidence to charge consideration should be given to a referral to Children's Social Care for an assessment of need and an AIM assessment via the child protection/child in need route

    For young people subject to a remand to Youth Detention Accommodation consideration will be given to the completion of an AIM2 assessment if they have either been found guilty or pleaded guilty. Ideally this could be completed before sentence however the location of the secure establishment could make this problematic i.e. if it is too far away to complete the necessary visits to complete the assessment etc.

    It is acknowledged that an AIM2 assessment/intervention may not always be able to be completed during the custodial element of a sentence depending on the type and location of the secure establishment the young person is placed in. If an AIM2 assessment/intervention work has been started in custody this should be continued on release and highlighted as an area of intervention within the Asset Plus Assessment and at the pre-release meeting. Any future intervention work should be outlined as a condition of the young person's licence/notice of supervision. If the child/young person is looked after, this work should also be reflected in their care plan. If no AIM2 assessment/intervention has been completed during the custodial element of the order then this should be included in the pre-release plans and incorporated, where appropriate, into the young person's notice of supervision/licence conditions. Again this work should be incorporated into any care planning documentation.

    Children who are returning to the community following a custodial sentence or time in secure accommodation following concerns re harmful sexual behaviour also require consideration through this procedure.

    In complex situations where there are a number of victims and possible perpetrators, see the Complex (Organised or Multiple) Abuse Procedure

    AIM2 Assessments

    Generally speaking the AIM assessment referred to in this policy is the AIM2 assessment model. There is a separate assessment models for Children under the Age of 12 years. (The Aim project initial assessment and intervention for under 12s). It is important to use the model appropriate to the young person’s situation and further specialist advice can be sought from AIM Project (see Local Contacts, AIM Project).

    The AIM2 model can be applied with Children and young people between the age of 8-12 years and 12 to 18 years, who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour, against children, adolescents and/or adults, within the family, outside the family and stranger abuse. The model is also applicable for young people with learning disability.

    The purpose of the AIM2 is to offer an assessment of the young person and his or her family to assess the concerns, risks and strengths of the young person across 4 key domains; sexual and non-sexual behaviours, development, family and environment considering both static and dynamic factors. The scoring system is based on research factors that will provide evidence of the risk and resilience’s presented by the young person and therefore the basis for intervention.

    It will include information on;

    • The context of the abusive behaviours, including the nature of the relationship between the children/young people, difference in age between the victim and alleged abuser, absence of consent, exploitation and whether the alleged abuser had authority or responsibility for the victim, secrecy, coercion, bribery or violence;
    • The child’s development and family and social circumstances;
    • The need for services, specifically focusing on the child’s harmful behaviour as well as other significant needs;
    • The risk to self and others, including other children in the household, extended family, school, peer group or wider social network;
    • Identify level of supervision required to prevent repeat harmful behaviour;
    • In child protection terms identify risk to either the child/young person or their actual/potential victim(s);
    • To assess the child/young person's motivation and capacity to engage in service and plans;
    • Identify the capacity of the parents /carers or significant others to manage and support the child/young person;
    • The assessors should draw conclusions from the AIM2 initial assessment framework and identify the initial level(s) of intervention indicated as necessary.

    Information gathered throughout the assessment process will be compiled into a report format. The assessors will read through the report with the young person and their parents / carers in a supportive setting and any areas of disagreement will be noted and attached to the report. The family are entitled to retain a copy of the report. It is good practice to write a child-friendly version of the report dependent on the age and level of understanding of the child or young person.

    Where the assessment has been initiated through the criminal justice route the report will be forwarded to the Investigating Police officer and will make recommendation to the Police regarding disposal for the young person. Having fully considered the assessment team’s recommendation and any other relevant information which has been collated regarding mitigating and aggravating factors, the police/CPS maintain the right to make a final decision.

    The sharing of information compiled in the assessment report is covered by the Information Sharing and Confidentiality Procedure. Where the police are involved it will assist the Police Public Investigation Units in their decision making regarding appropriate disposal for the young person.

    Appropriate assessors should be identified using the following principles:

    • At least one assessor must be AIM2 trained;
    • At least one assessor must hold a Social Work qualification or another suitable professional qualification;
    • Assessment should be multi-agency; Youth Offending Team will take the lead where a criminal process is likely; Children’s Social Care will lead where the child with the harmful behaviour is under 10, or has intellectual disabilities; Specialist involvement from specialist agencies such as G Map, NSPCC may be required for very serious high-risk cases;
    • Where no alternative exists two Children's Social Care workers may undertake an assessment where there are no criminal proceedings. The Social worker for the victim should not be involved in the assessment in order to ensure it remains objective.

    AIM Review Meeting

    Following the assessment, an AIM review meeting will be convened and chaired - how this takes place is a matter for local arrangement. In some areas it will chaired by an Independent Reviewing officer; in others by the lead agency. Where the child or young person is Looked After, the Independent Reviewing Officer should attend the meeting.

    Parents / carers and the child or young person will be invited to attend the meeting and will only be excluded in exceptional circumstances. Reasons for any exclusion should be clearly discussed with all attendees to the meetings and minuted for case notes. The meeting should be attended by the assessors and any other relevant professionals involved with the child / young person and their family. The assessment should be shared with the young person and their parents by the assessors before the strategy meeting takes place. They should be prepared for the meeting and in the planning for the young person.

    The meeting should produce a shared multi-disciplinary plan, which addresses:

    • Child protection concerns for the young person;
    • The safety of potential victims;
    • Risk management at home, in school/AEP and in the wider community;
    • Immediate living arrangements for the young person;
    • School attendance and related education issues;
    • Individual health needs, including emotional health needs;
    • Support for the child/young person and their family to promote their social, emotional and behavioural development;
    • The needs of the child/young person;
    • Relevant victim issues - whether the needs of the victim and their family are supported;
    • Intervention / treatment issues /identification;
    • Roles, tasks and expectations for different professionals/agencies;
    • Any need for further assessment;
    • Inclusion of the child/young person’s name on the Disclosure and Barring Service Barred list;
    • The timing and frequency of meetings to review the plan.

    Copies of the assessment report will remain on the files of the assessor’s agencies. Copies will be retained in line with individual agencies file destruction policies.

    In the event of disagreement about the recommendation, a discussion with the assessors’ line managers, and if necessary the Resolving Professional Differences/Escalation Policy should be followed.

    Minutes of the meeting will be circulated to those present and those with responsibility for action as soon as possible.

    Further strategy meetings to review the progress of the actions agreed and outcomes for the alleged perpetrator and other vulnerable young people will be convened and chaired original chair until the identified work is complete.

    When considering alternative placements in foster or residential care, the potential risks and impact across the group of children/young people should be carefully considered prior to the making of a placement, and necessary risk management plans established.

    Home Safety Planning

    It is possible that a decision will need to be made to remove a young person from the family home as a protective measure for siblings. If a decision is made that the young person can remain at home a Home Safety Plan should be undertaken by the professionals involved to provide some rules and guidelines about what is permissible. It should also be completed in any other setting where a young person is placed – whether that is in a residential setting or a foster placement or with other family members.

    It should include as a minimum:

    • A realistic level of supervision that must be provided;
    • The living environment is free from confusing sexual behaviour and information i.e. DVDs magazines, language, behaviour;
    • Sleeping arrangements need to be considered including making arrangements with extended family members;
    • Clear rules on privacy;
    • State of dress around the house;
    • Limitations on play fighting.

    Further details about Home safety planning are found in the Revised AIM2 (2012) assessment manual

    How do Child Protection Plans and AIM Work Together?

    It is feasible that Child Protection processes will be running in parallel to AIM2 processes. The processes should complement each other and inform each other. It must be clear at all times who is responsible for each action.

    Complaints Procedure

    If a complaint is lodged against a assessor their agency complaints procedures should be followed. If a complaint is lodged regarding the assessment process, the LSCB complaints procedures should be applied.

    Additional Advice for Schools

    There is additional guidance in Education Guidelines for identifying and managing sexually harmful and problematic behaviour in Education settings Carol Carson (October 2007). It is recommended that any education setting purchase this manual from the AIM project to provide information advice and assistance in managing problematic behaviours (see AIM Project website, Nurseries, Schools and Further Education Colleges, Introduction).

    Training to enable education workers to become co-assessors is also available via the AIM project.