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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse of Children in Custodial Institutions: 2009-2017 Investigation Report

E.9: Identifying ‘warning signs’

101. A number of factors are associated with an increased risk of child sexual abuse in custody. These include gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, history of experiencing sexual assault prior to custody, and having been convicted of a sexual offence prior to custody. It has also been suggested that children who have committed sexual offences may be at greater risk of being victimised themselves in custody as well as victimising others.[1]

102. Alan Wood said that all members of staff should be trained appropriately to recognise and respond to sexual abuse.[2]

103. SCH staff are directed to continually monitor and actively assess the risks to each child and the arrangements in place to protect them. Staff skills should include being able to identify signs that children may be at risk and to support children in strategies to manage and reduce any risks.[3]

104. We were told that the Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool (CHAT)[4] system, together with the Youth Custody Service’s ASSETPlus[5] [6]system, would adequately identify those children most at risk of sexual abuse in custody.[7][8] However, the Inquiry’s REA noted evidence that CHAT assessments in YOIs and STCs are not always completed consistently, and that children’s health records are often unavailable so establishments may not always be aware of children’s pre‐existing health conditions.[9]

105. PSI 08/2012, Care and Management of Young People,[10] recognises that young people held in custody are inherently at risk of harm. It provides that staff must be able to recognise, and know how to act upon, evidence that a child is suffering or is at risk of suffering serious harm. It recommends that staff report concerns to the relevant safeguarding manager. This policy is supported by mandatory training on safeguarding in YOIs and STCs, which includes how to identify signs of sexual abuse and recommends that staff report concerns to the relevant safeguarding manager.[11][12][13][14][15]

106. However, as set out above, the safeguarding training is only a day in length and there is evidence that, although it is mandatory, not all staff have received it.[16][17][18][19] HMPPS has recently commissioned a Review of Safeguarding in the Secure Estate (June 2018) by Sonia Brooks OBE. The terms of reference include a review of safeguarding training.[20][21]

107. Dr Janes told us that therapeutic interventions for children who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour used to be provided in custodial institutions by groups such as the Lucy Faithfull Foundation and GMP, but these stopped some years ago. There is now no standardised service.[22] Stuart Jessup of MTC Novo told us about one specialist psychology‐led harmful sexual behaviour service, led by Northamptonshire Health Foundation Trust.[23]


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