Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)
1. Introduction and background
1.1 In December 2015 MOPAC successfully applied to the Home Office Police Innovation Fund and received a total of £7.2m over two years, matched with NHS England (London) funding, to implement the Child House model for victims of child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation in London.
1.2 “Protecting children from harm” (2015) by the Children’s Commissioner for England estimated that 450,000 children in England and Wales are sexually abused each year, and of these only 1 in 8 are reported to public authorities. An NSPCC study in 2010, estimated 9.4% of children 11-17 years old experience sexual abuse and 1.9% experience contact sexual abuse. For London this equates to 12,500 children per year and we know that less than 4,000 reported the offences and less than 1,000 accessed health support in 2014. The Children’s Commissioner for England specifically recommended piloting the Barnahus (Child House) model and the use of child psychologists in Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) interviews in the UK.
1.3 Sexual violence and abuse can cause severe and long lasting harm to victims, including physical injury, sexually transmitted infections, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and panic attacks, depression, substance abuse, self-harm, domestic violence and in some cases, sexually-offending behaviour in some young males.
1.4 MOPAC/NHS England (London) commissioned the “Review of Child Sexual Assault Pathway for London” (2015) which mapped the various London pathways for children and young people following child sexual abuse. The findings included variation in services available across all London boroughs and gaps in medical, emotional support and the prosecution process. The recommendations included the establishment of five Child Houses in London by 2020.
1.5 The Home Office funding will be used to implement two Child Houses in London, each providing examinations, investigative interviews, aftercare and emotional support to children and young people. It is anticipated that the number of children and young people seen will increase as public awareness is raised and agencies work in partnership.
1.6 The aim will be to make the investigative and judicial process faster, less traumatising and result in fewer failed cases. Currently failure is due to a number of factors; an insufficiency of evidence, and retracted testimonies are but two reasons. Retraction occurs because of lengthy delay or pressure from family/friends. Victims will be interviewed in the Child House with clinical psychologist using creativity and appropriate questioning to elicit a compelling evidential story from the child. The Child House will provide medical examination and documentation of injuries, as well as providing long-term emotional and mental health interventions to build resilience and recovery for the child and family.
2. Issues for consideration
2.1. This programme will be delivered in two phases. Between April 2016 and March 2017 will be the scoping and commissioning of services. This will include the acquisition of premises, refurbishment and set up, commissioning, recruitment and training of workforce and referral partners. The service will then go-live from April 2017 and funding will be in place for both Child Houses until March 2019.
2.2. It is anticipated the programme will deliver the following outcomes:
• Impact on Policing:
- Earlier detection of child sexual abuse
- Increased support for victims of sexual offences
- Fewer repeat sexual violence crimes to investigate
- More effective ABE interviews through use of clinical psychologists
- Enhanced productivity of officers through more timely third party responses
- Reduction in need for historical reviews
- More rapid progress in investigations and court cases leading to more constraint for offenders, fewer cracked trials and more convictions; in turn leading to a reduction in reoffending
- Increase in number of survivors engaging with restorative justice
- Ability to identify frequent offenders through data sharing with multi-agency partners
- Be part of the EU PROMISE project for Barnahus (Child House)
- Victims of crime supported earlier in their journey of abuse and exploitation
2.3. An independent evaluation of the Child Houses will be conducted to understand the impact against anticipated outcomes and proof of concept. The evaluation findings will also inform the feasibility of rolling this approach out further across London and other areas in the UK.
3. Financial Comments
3.1. For 2016-2018, £7,157,660 has been granted to MOPAC further to an application to the Home Office Police Innovation Fund. This consists of both capital and revenue costs, with £4,771,660 in 2016/17 and £2,386,000 in 2017/18. In addition, NHS England (London) is providing match funding in 2016/17.
3.2. Further match funding will also be sought, in particular with a view to sustaining the two Child Houses beyond 2017/18.
3.3. The Home Office will reimburse MOPAC in two payments – November 2016 and June 2017 for expenditure incurred up to the value of the approved amount.
3.4. As a large capital programme during 2016/17, MOPAC will closely monitor the spend closely in consultation with the Home Office to ensure this is within the parameters of the Home Office funding.
3.5. Previously £1m was allocated from the MoJ Victims Grant (DMPCD 2016 44) to support the development of the Child House model. As MOPAC has been successful in obtaining monies from the Home Office Innovations fund the £1m will be reallocated. A decision on how this will be spent will require further DMPC approval.
4. Legal Comments
4.1. MOPAC’s general powers are set out in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (the
2011 Act). Section 3(6) of the 2011 Act provides that MOPAC must “secure the maintenance of the metropolitan police service and secure that the metropolitan police service is efficient and effective.” Under Schedule 3, paragraph 7 MOPAC has wide incidental powers to “do anything which is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the exercise of the functions of the Office.” Paragraph 7(2) (a) provides that this includes entering into contracts and other agreements.
4.2. Section 143 (1) (b) of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides an express power for MOPAC, as a local policing body, to provide or commission services “intended by the local policing body to help victims or witnesses of, or other persons affected by, offences and anti-social behaviour.” Section 143(3) specifically allows MOPAC to make grants in connection with such arrangements and any grant may be made subject to any conditions that MOPAC thinks appropriate.
4.3. MOPAC has statutory duties to hold the MPS Commissioner to account for the exercise of child safeguarding duties under sections 10 and 11 of the Children Act 2004 as well as to discharge its own functions having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, as outlined in the same legislation. Child safeguarding runs through almost every strand of MOPAC’s work, including gangs, Violence Against Women and Girls, Counter-terrorism, Victims and Justice and we will continue to provide strategic oversight of the MPS’s work in this area and to work with agencies across London to ensure that we do everything we can to protect children in the capital.
4.4. Under MOPAC’s Scheme of Delegation, approval of the strategy for the award of individual grants and the award of all individual grants (for crime reduction or other purposes) is a matter generally reserved to the DMPC (paragraph 5.6). The release of funding in accordance with the proposals set out in this decision form is accordingly to be approved by the DMPC. The delegation of responsibility for the finalisation of planning and contractual/grant arrangements, including relevant terms and the signing of agreements, to the Chief Operating Officer is in accordance with the general power of delegation in paragraph 1.7.
5. Equality Comments
5.1. MOPAC is required to comply with the public sector equality duty set out in section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010. This requires MOPAC to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations by reference to people with protected characteristics. The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
5.2. The service will enable a more tailored approach and greater level of accessibility to services for victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation. Links will be made between the Child Houses and other MOPAC commissioned services such Rape Crisis and Haven, to ensure that victims are well supported and referred into the most appropriate services.