Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 23rd May 2019

Sam Preston 23 May 2019 3 min read

Offensive Weapons

Last week the Offensive Weapons Act gained royal ascent. Part of the strategy to tackle serious crime, the Act introduces new measures such as knife crime restriction orders and gives the police the additional powers in seizing dangerous weapons. It also enables the courts to place restrictions on persons vulnerable to knife crime. The Act also makes it an offence to dispatch bladed items online without verifying the intended recipient is over 18.

Life sentence for Renshaw

Jack Renshaw has been sentenced to life in prison following an investigation by Counter Terrorism Policing North West. Renshaw pleaded guilty to threatening to kill a police officer who was investigating him for sexual offences and a local MP.

Extraordinary tale of VIP Westminster paedophile ring

The trial of Carl Beech, the 51-year-old who claimed he was sexually abused by a VIP Westminster paedophile ring and to have witnessed child murders, has commenced at Newcastle Crown Court. Beech claimed that over a number of years he had witnessed three child murders, multiple rapes, kidnapping, false imprisonment and widespread sexual abuse.

Beech, who denies twelve counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud, made allegations against high ranking officials which included Sir Edward Heath, Lord Brittan, the former head of the army Lord Bramall, former MP Harvey Proctor and the chiefs of MI5 and MI6. This led to the launch of Operation Midland, which included searches of the homes of Lord Brittan, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor.

Tony Badenoch QC, prosecuting, said Beech’s accusations against the powerful figures were among the "most heinous" that could be made. Lord Brittan, who had been battling cancer, died after his home was searched and the court heard how that all three men had suffered "immeasurable distress", including the death of Lord Bramall's wife whilst the file was still open. Following the closure of the £2m Operation Midland, Northumberland Police investigated Beech and discovered a number of his claims were "provably false". Badenoch stated that Beech "had lied about the content of these allegations, taken active steps to embellish a false story, and then cover his tracks when challenged."

Alesha MacPhail killer granted permission to appeal sentence

In a follow up to the article in our bulletin (11th April), the teenager convicted of raping and killing Alesha MacPhail has been granted permission to appeal against his life sentence.

As we reported, the 17-year-old Aaron Campbell was ordered to serve a minimum of 27 years for the abduction and murder of the six-year-old whilst she was on holiday on the Isle of Bute last summer. Campbell abducted Alesha from her bed as she slept at her grandparents' home in July last year and went on to inflict numerous injuries on the six-year-old before dumping her body in woods. A jury found him unanimously guilty following a nine-day trial and he later admitted to the crime.

Campbell has now been granted leave to appeal against this sentence, which was handed down by Lord Matthews at the High Court in Glasgow in March.

A hearing date has been set for 7 August at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Number of British paedophiles may be far higher than thought

In a speech made in London last week, the Director General of the National Crime Agency (NCA), Lynne Owens revealed the number of Britons with a sexual interest in children may be seven times higher than previously thought. Previous estimates put the figure at 20,000 however, following an investigation which scoured through sites for paedophiles on the dark web, an estimated 144,000 accounts were linked to British people.

Whilst recognising that some individuals may have more than one account across several of these sites, Owens, said that in her professional judgment the number of paedophiles was much higher than law enforcement and government had realised. To back up this claim, Owens said: "I draw on two pieces of evidence. The first … is the 850% increase in referrals from industry since 2013. Then the second is this evidence we get from the dark web."

Owens stated that every month measures were taken to make sure 400 children were safe from paedophiles, and 500 people were arrested in connection with a sexual interest in children. Some dark web sites require people to prove they have raped a child before they are allowed to enter.

Owens went on to state that the NCA and police had not been able to investigate all of the suspects even when the numbers were believed to be much lower, and that they did not have the resources to analyse all the accounts discovered on the dark web. She highlighted that industry must do more to block child abuse images and the live streaming of child abuse.

Preventative programmes warning children of the dangers are now aimed at 4-7-year-olds whose parents gave them tablet computers, whereas previously they were aimed at children aged eight years and over. Owens is calling for an additional £2.7bn over three years to boost the fight against serious and organised crime.

Operation Stovewood

As part of the ongoing Operation Stovewood investigation into the sexual abuse and exploitation of more than 1,500 children in the Rotherham, forty people have been arrested or interviewed in the last two months. Operation Stovewood is the largest investigation into non-familial CSAE (child sexual abuse and exploitation) ever undertaken in the UK.

The arrests and interviews relate to thirteen victims, aged between 11 and 26, for alleged offences taking place between 1997 and 2015. Thirty-eight men and two women from Sheffield, Rotherham, Leeds, Dewsbury and Maidstone were arrested or interviewed by appointment. All forty have been bailed or released under investigation.

The investigations began following a report by Professor Alexis Jay in 2014 which detailed the rape, grooming and trafficking of more than 1,400 children. This figure has now been updated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) to 1,523.

To date, under Operation Stovewood more than a dozen men have been jailed. In the most recent trial, seven men were convicted of abusing five girls between 1998 and 2005 and received sentences of up to 23 years. They were found guilty of charges including rape and aiding and abetting rape.

Other investigations into years of abuse of young girls in the town - Operation Clover and Operation Thunder, investigations previously undertaken in Rotherham, have seen more than 20 other men jailed in recent years. This included the trial of Arshid Hussain, one of three brothers behind the grooming and sexual abuse of more than 50 girls which include Sammy Woodhouse, who received a 35 –year sentence in 2016.

Half-term Break:

The safeguarding bulletin will be back on 5th June following half-term. We hope you have a good break.

Useful links:

Handbook for Ofsted inspectors on inspecting further education and skills providers under the education inspection framework, for use from September 2019.

Guidance for Ofsted inspectors carrying out school inspections under section 8 of the Education Act 2005, for use from September 2019.

Ofsted guidance on inspecting non-association independent schools in England under the education inspection framework, for use from September 2019.

Ofsted guidance on inspecting registered early years and childcare providers under the education inspection framework, for use from September 2019.

The framework which sets out Ofsted’s inspection principles and the main judgements that inspectors make. It applies from September 2019.

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Sam Preston

SSS Learning Safeguarding Director

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