Briefing for House of Lords debate, November 2012

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1 Prevention of violence against women Briefing for House of Lords debate, November 2012 Eve Byrne, Parliamentary Officer, About Barnardo s Barnardo s works directly with more than 200,000 children, young people and their families every year in over 800 services across the UK. Barnardo s uses the knowledge gained from this experience to improve policies and practice which affect the chances and choices of the most disadvantaged children and young people to achieve their potential. Summary Barnardo s work to tackle domestic violence is focussed on two main areas: the provision of services for adult and child victims and promoting childfocused domestic violence assessment through Barnardo s Domestic Violence Risk Assessment Model. The first part of this briefing outlines this best practice model. The issue of sexual violence must not be overlooked in this debate and child sexual exploitation (victims of which are often subject to physical and sexual violence) is of particular concern to Barnardo s. The second part of this briefing outlines what action is needed at every level from the frontline, to local authorities to national government to tackle child sexual exploitation. Barnardo s knows that men and boys can be victims of domestic violence and child sexual exploitation, however, this briefing focuses on violence against women and girls in line with the subject of the debate. Barnardo s Domestic Abuse Services 14 specialist Domestic Abuse services.

2 A significant proportion of users of many other Barnardo s Services have been affected by domestic abuse, consequently domestic abuse projects and support is a feature of broader services in, for example, Children s Centres and Family Centres. The support that Barnardo s services provide to children and mothers is focussed on two main areas: o safety planning with mothers experience abuse and their children; o supporting victims to recover from their abuse by providing emotional support, identifying support networks, supporting issue-based group work, and giving information and advice. Many mothers continue to provide love and stability for their children in very difficult circumstances, and Barnardo's tries to strengthen their ability to cope, their confidence and self-esteem so that they can protect themselves and their children from further violence. Barnardo s Domestic Violence Risk Assessment Model Barnardo s does this using our Domestic Violence Risk Assessment Model (DVRAM), which we have developed over a number of years from our work with children affected by domestic violence and the learning from Serious Case Reviews. The model is designed to identify risks to children and young people from domestic violence. In doing this it also identifies risk level to mothers. The model consists of 4 tools: o Multi-agency Risk Identification Matrix (DVRIM) o Domestic Violence Initial Assessment -social care staff o Domestic Violence Core Assessment for social work staff o Safety Planning interventions with women and children/young people for multi-agency staff It supports families who experience domestic violence by o Making mothers aware of the risks o Safety planning with the mother and her children o Developing new skills for non-abusing parent o Ensuring multi-agency contact o Engaging with male perpetrators (pilot ) It supports health and social care staff to o Identify risks o Make decisions o Select appropriate interventions o Enhance initial and core assessments Implemented with Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland since 2003 and introduced to London in It has been adopted by London Safeguarding Board, and is also used by East Midland Police.

3 Barnardo s provides consultancy and training in the use of the Domestic Violence Risk Assessment and to assist multi-agency and social work practitioners to make better decisions about the impact on children of living in families where domestic violence takes place. Child sexual exploitation Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse in which children and young people under the age of 18 are forced or manipulated into sexual activity. Many abusers groom a young person into believing they can be trusted, and then exploit this trust to use the young person for their own gain. They may use drugs, alcohol, attention, money, food or offers of accommodation to manipulate their victims. Victims can be subject to physical and sexual violence, and be put at risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Their families can suffer threats, violence and significant psychological distress, disruption and even fragmentation. The effect of sexual exploitation on a young person can be long-term and highly damaging. It can lead to difficulties in making and sustaining relationships, feelings of worthlessness and shame, loss of confidence and low self-esteem. It can also have acute and long-term impacts on health. Barnardo s child sexual exploitation services Barnardo s is the largest provider of child sexual exploitation support services in the UK. Last year we worked with almost 1,200 victims through 21 specialist services. Our services work hard to identify and reach out to young people at risk in the community. By showing concern and building trust, our staff help children to break free of abusive and exploitative relationships. Staffed by qualified professionals, these services provide a safe and confidential environment where young people can go for help, advice and support. Children are offered a range of therapeutic interventions including one-to-one counselling, group-work sessions and drop-in support. Our services also raise awareness of child sexual exploitation in their local areas, working with schools and others to deliver preventative education programmes and providing specialist training to professionals so they know what signs to look out for. We have produced Spot the Signs leaflets to raise awareness among young people themselves, parents/carers and professionals who are

4 responsible for young people. 1 Over 230,000 leaflets have been distributed or downloaded. We have recently produced a leaflet specifically for the hospitality, leisure and tourism industries to assist staff who may witness young people being groomed or exploited within these settings. 2 Recommendations for tackling child sexual exploitation In January 2011 Barnardo's launched our campaign on child sexual exploitation: Cut them free. It is a UK-wide campaign with four objectives: Raise awareness to improve early identification of child sexual exploitation Improve statutory responses and the provision of services Improve the evidence Improve prosecution procedures Since launching our campaign the UK Government has committed to tackle this appalling crime. They have taken the following steps: - assigning Ministerial responsibility for tackling child sexual exploitation to the Department for Education (originally with Tim Loughton MP, now Edward Timpson MP) - publishing a National Action Plan setting out how it plans to tackle this form of abuse, - publishing a progress report on implementation of the National Action Plan Local progress and work remaining Barnardo's knows that real impact is dependent on multi-agency working at a local and regional level. This underpins the development and implementation of any effective response. Local areas in all four nations will be best placed to respond if they acknowledge that this abuse could be occurring and adopt a collaborative approach to identify and tackle the problem. In England, Barnardo s campaign persuaded 107 local authorities 3 to commit to tackling child sexual exploitation in their areas and to implementing Barnardo s checklist of best practice. 4 Barnardo s recommendations for effective local responses to child Of the 152 local authorities in England which hold responsibility for safeguarding children. 4

5 sexual exploitation:: - Raise awareness: young people and children, professionals, parents and should be informed about the issue. This will be most effective if it is an ongoing process, and is adapted as information emerges about the local forms and levels of child sexual exploitation. - Understand what is happening. Information is needed to guide awareness-raising efforts and underpin the strategic response. An initial scoping exercise is important but areas are advised to monitor the levels and character of child sexual exploitation on an ongoing basis. - Develop a strategic response. Local Authorities strategies should set out how those identified as being at risk of sexual exploitation can be given an appropriate response. Good practice shows that a response is best planned by multiple agencies, even if it is subsequently delivered by only one. 5 - Provide victims of exploitation with appropriate support. Children at higher risk will benefit most from direct intensive support from agencies or multi-agency teams with specialist expertise. Those at medium or lower risk will benefit from having guidance on keeping safe and being reviewed at least once to check whether they require additional support. - Facilitate policing and prosecutions of perpetrators. Multiagency information sharing can be improved so evidence can better guide police action. Disruption techniques can also be used more comprehensively to protect young people and children from further abuse. Police and Crime Commissioners In England and Wales we are currently calling on Police and Crime Commissioners to sign up to support the Cut Them Free campaign and to commit, if elected, to ensuring that: a senior police officer has lead responsibility for the issue there will be specialist police officers deal with individual cases frontline and strategic officers will receive training to tackle child sexual exploitation child sexual exploitation is flagged on the local police force database 5 Paskell, C. (2012) Tackling child sexual exploitation: Helping local authorities to develop effective strategic responses. Barnardo's, Barkingside. Jago, S. et al. (2011) What s going on to safeguard children and young people from sexual exploitation? University of Bedfordshire, Luton.

6 the police force engages with the Local Safeguarding Children Board and neighbouring police forces to tackle this abuse police deal appropriately with alleged or known victims of child sexual exploitation Barnardo s recommendations to improve identification and policing response The Government must ensure that Police and Crime Commissioners are supporting local police forces in achieving this important objective. Victims of sexual exploitation in court From our experience of supporting many young people to give evidence in court as witnesses and as victims, it has become clear to Barnardo's that child sexual exploitation victims face a number of difficulties in the criminal justice system. At its worst, this can lead to a traumatising situation for the young people involved, where they have to relive their abuse in an alienating and confusing environment. In particular, poor communication between agencies undermines young victims and witnesses experience of the criminal justice system. Our child sexual exploitation services have seen an improvement in recent years in the police s response to and treatment of young people who have been sexually exploited, but service staff have been frustrated on many occasions by seeing the good work done by police not being continued by those agencies which are involved more directly in the court system. Barnardo s recommendations to improve prosecution procedures Young witnesses and victims should always be assigned an appropriate advocate or support worker. This advocate or support worker must have the necessary training and guidance to work with this particularly vulnerable group of people. Independent Sexual Violence Advocates can play an important role in supporting young people to give their evidence, reducing the risk that the case will collapse from the loss of a key witness testimony. Provision should be made for ISVAs to be available to young victims in child sexual exploitation-related prosecutions. Materials should always be provided that explain the criminal justice system in appropriate ways for children and young people of different ages and aptitudes.

7 Young people should always be given an opportunity to see the court or other setting in which they will be giving evidence and informed about the court process in advance of the session. This opportunity is not routinely available to witnesses. Work should be carried out to facilitate communication between victim support, witness care officers and relevant agencies which are working to support the young victim or witness there should be a presumption to engage with agencies which are already providing intensive support to young people as a result of abuse Expert witnesses should be brought in to inform jurors about the process of sexual exploitation the grooming process itself and the nature of the abusive relationship which can isolate young people to such an extent that they return again and again despite the horrific exploitation they suffer. Court officials should use age-appropriate language when dealing with young victims and witnesses. Lawyers should be guided to avoid inappropriate language about young victims (for example, using terms such as child prostitute ). Reasonable efforts should be made so that witnesses families can support their children in court, for example, through help with childcare costs if necessary. Agencies in the criminal justice system should review their service provision to assess whether it meets the equalities objective of ensuring that children and young people are not disadvantaged in their role as victims or witnesses.

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