Booking a holiday and finding a place to stay can be difficult enough at the best of times. It’s not enough just to see if there is a gym, a swimming pool and good restaurants and other amenities but to also consider if the accommodation is a safe haven and not managed, run or staffed by inappropriate personnel.
An example of the risk can be seen from the recent conviction of an ex-Army intelligence officer and Manchester hotelier, for a second time for abusing children at his £2m B&B. Saleem targeted children after they checked into his hotel with their parents near Manchester Airport. He had been previously jailed in October 2018 after attacking two sisters aged four and eight. He has been jailed again after a nine year old girl made a complaint following his first sentence. Saleem said his conviction was ‘unjust and tyrannical’.
The most recent Queens Speech confirmed the Government’s intent to continue to develop an Online Harms paper so as to make the UK the safest place to be online.
Today, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) published its third case study findings.
The latest findings follow evidence heard between October 2018 and February 2019 on residential care establishments run by three voluntary providers (Quarriers, Aberlour Child Care Trust and Barnardo’s). This covers the period between 1921 and 1991. A link to the findings is here. .
As of 29 November 2019, the Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS):
- had received over 5,510 applications
- made 1,096 decisions, including 792 payments totalling over $64.1 million, and 155 offers of redress awaiting an applicant’s decision
- had an average payment amount of $81,000
- was processing over 3,610 applications
- had 591 applications on hold because one or more institution named had not yet joined, and 218 applications required additional information from the applicant.
From 1 July 2019 to 29 November 2019, 563 applications were finalised, resulting in 553 payments.
The rate of processing applications is still at a lower level than would be expected when one compares it with other modern redress scheme.
On 17 December, 2019, his 83rd birthday, Pope Francis announced long awaited changes to the rules governing how the Roman Catholic Church deals with cases of sexual abuse of children.
As explained in our blog Potential widening of legislation relating to ‘Positions of Trust’ in faith settings dated 19 September 2019, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 it is illegal for groups of professionals with a position of trust to be involved in sexual activity with a 16 or 17 year old under their supervision. Position of trust is a legal term that refers to certain roles and settings where an adult has regular and direct contact with children. The definition includes teachers, care workers, social workers, police officers, doctors, foster carers and youth justice staff. However, there are many roles which are not legally defined as being positions of trust such as faith group leaders and sports coaches.
The IICSA report Anglican Church Case Studies: the Diocese of Chichester and their response to allegations against Peter Ball dated 9 May 2019 made the following recommendation:
Recommendation 3 – The government should amend Section 21 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 so as to include clergy within the definition of a position of trust. This would criminalise under s16-s20 sexual activity between clergy and a person aged 16 to 18, over whom they exercise pastoral authority, involving the abuse of a position of trust.
On 31 October 2019 the Government provided a written response to IICSA’s recommendation as follows:
- The criminal law already provides a number of protections to deal with non-consensual and unwanted sexual activity and abuse. These offences carry robust sentences to reflect the seriousness of such offending.
- The Governments recognises there are deeply held concerns about those who might abuse their position of power over a 16 or 17 year old to pressure them into engaging in sexual activity. Its views is that such behaviour is likely to be caught by the robust laws already in place and it actively encourages anyone who feels they are a victim of sexual abuse to contact the Police.
- The Government wants to ensure that existing offences are being used effectively to tackle this behaviour and that those working with young people understand their responsibilities and act appropriately.
- The Ministry of Justice, working closely with colleagues across Government, has already taken forward a review of existing offences to ensure that they are working as effectively as possible and are clearly understood. As part of this review, they reached out to the Police and CPS to get their input into how the law is working in practice and how to raise awareness of the existing law and the protection it offers to young people.
- Another key part of this review was their engagement with organisations that work with young people and represent their interests in order to understand their concerns, and also to ensure that the right measures are in place to protect young people from inappropriate behaviour. They held a number of roundtables with representatives across a wide range of sectors including representatives from faith groups. They were vital to inform their thinking as they consider what, if any, actions they should take going forward.
The Ministry of Justice and the Government are considering the findings of the review and will announce next steps in due course.
Written by Catherine Davey, associate at BLM
The Protestant Church in Germany, with 21 million members, has announced an intention to set up a Commission to investigation allegations of sexual assaults in care facilities and institutions run by it. An investigation was launched last year and at least 770 victims have been identified to date, many of whom are children.
Nun Kirsten Ferris, a spokesperson for the Federation of Churches comprised of 20 different churches has announced that some of the attacks took place inside the church. An investigation fund of 2.3 million euros has been set aside for the investigation so far. However victims are critical of the church, and consider it has been slow to react and for not focusing on victims and the need to make reparations.