Publication - Progress report

National action plan to tackle child sexual exploitation: final report

Published: 6 Jul 2020

Sets out the range of achievements and activity delivered since 2016 to prevent and tackle child sexual exploitation.

National action plan to tackle child sexual exploitation: final report
Delivery against actions and ongoing activity

Delivery against actions and ongoing activity

General Actions

Action / Activity and Impact

1. Develop a set of indicators to measure progress towards achieving the outcomes in this plan.

Activity: Since the publication of the 2016 revised National Action Plan to Prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation, a data subgroup consisting of member organisations of the National CSE Group along with CELCIS and Scottish Government analysts have developed a range of resources to complement and support Child Protection Committees (CPC) in Scotland in their continuous improvement at local level.

Developed resources include:

  • a core component checklist[5] that aligns with the Care Inspectorate's Quality Framework for Children and Young People in Need of Care and Protection;[6] and
  • a self-survey questionnaire[7] for CPCs to Review Process and Practices in Relation to Child Sexual Exploitation.

Using a 2016 questionnaire as a data baseline, CELCIS facilitated the participation of all 30 of Scotland's Child Protection Committees in a self-survey exercise to review processes and practices in relation to Child Sexual Exploitation in 2019.[8] The findings indicate that although confidence is high in local areas having in place the required CSE strategies and workplans, more work is needed to raise awareness of CSE across wider communities and to ensure that high quality CSE practice is being delivered

2. Develop an approach to involving children and young people in developing and reviewing the actions in this plan and shaping future national policy on child sexual exploitation.

Activity: In 2018, the Scottish Government published a commissioned study[9] which explored and evidenced the nature and type of impact children and young people's participation has had on national and local policy making in Scotland. The report's recommendations were key drivers to the considerations that informed both the National Action Plan to progress the human rights of children in Scotland: 2018-2021,[10] which set out our ambition to deliver the building blocks and the foundations that help children and young people to experience their rights, as well as Scotland's Open Government Action Plan: 2018-2020,[11] which aims to strengthen democracy and put people at the centre of our policies to create a Scotland that works for everyone.

Progress reports, setting out the key achievements and delivery to date were published in 2018[12] on action to listening to children and young people's voices and in 2019[13] on the human rights of children in Scotland action plan.

Ongoing activity: Ahead of The Children's Rights (Scotland) Bill to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots Law, work continues to the development of a strategic approach to participation of children and young people in decision-making across Scottish society, with a particular focus to ensuring that the voices of seldom heard, vulnerable and younger children are routinely heard and reflected in the development of policy and legislation, as part of the Year of Young People[14] legacy.

Ongoing activity: The Scottish Government co-fund a programme run by Children 1st in which two Participation and Children's Rights Workers are ensuring that the voices of children are captured and properly represented within strategic and policy discussions.

This work will feed into work at a strategic level with key partners including the Scottish Government to lead, co-ordinate and drive the development of the Scottish Barnahus Model nationally.

The gathering of information on the lived experience of the Scottish child protection and justice systems from children, young people and their families will inform and influence a range of Scottish Government priority work streams in these systems beyond the work to develop of a set of Standards for Barnahus in Scotland, including the Equally Safe Joint Delivery Group, the Victims Taskforce and the Chief Medical Officer's Taskforce - Children & Young People Expert Group.

The Everyday Heroes participation project[15] continues to be instrumental in involving young people with lived experience in shaping the Equally Safe delivery plan. The Project consulted with young people across Scotland, with experience of Gender Based Violence, including sexual abuse, asking them what would improve the journeys of young abuse survivors through services and the justice system, and what could improve social attitudes to gender equality. It identified a series of priorities for action in improving service responses to victims and sustaining participation in taking actions forward.

Ongoing activity: A subgroup of the National Child Protection Leadership Group has been established, to take forward the commitments that stem from the Child Protection Improvement Programme and the Child Protection Systems Review, to ensure that children and young people are actively involved and participate in strengthening Scotland's child protection system.

Outcome 1 The risk that children and young people are sexually exploited is reduced through a focus on prevention and early identification

Action / Activity and Impact

3. Train a further 1,860 young mentors to develop the skills to identify abusive and violent behaviours and develop safe options to support and challenge their peers.

Activity: Mentors in Violence Prevention[16] (MVP) is a peer education programme providing young people with the language and framework to explore and challenge the attitudes, beliefs and cultural norms that underpin gender-based violence, bullying and other forms of abuse. Originating in America, Mentors in Violence Prevention was introduced to Scotland by the Violence Reduction Unit and has since been developed and supported by Education Scotland. The programme 'scenarios' explore a range of behaviours including many which increase the risk of sexual exploitation (including controlling, sexting, sharing of sexually explicit photos and the issue of consent) . These scenarios are used to help young people build their resilience in order to develop safe options to support their friends and peers. The most recently developed scenario is focused on grooming. At January 2020, 28 local authorities were delivering the MVP programme; 17 of these have their own trainers. The remaining 4 authorities are fully engaged with the national team and implementing a roll out plan. By June 2020 it is anticipated that 198 schools would have trained staff in this area which would lead to approximately 2,600 mentors. Over 10,500 mentors have been trained since 2014.

Evidence of the impact of MVP has been gathered through staff feedback, attitude questionnaires and focus groups, and indicates a positive increase in the percentage of young people who report that they would act if they saw particular behaviours occurring. Staff report an increase in pupils who are ready to alert them to safety concerns. Following training in MVP, there is evidence of increased awareness of issues, an increase in those who believe that bystanders can make a difference, and a rise in the number of staff and pupils who thought that they would challenge gender-based violence.

Ongoing activity: The national team within Education Scotland will continue to support local authorities at different stages of embedding MVP; support new local authorities to develop steering groups and train staff and existing authorities to roll out the programme across more schools.

New scenarios have been developed and are now being delivered in schools. There will be a review of the key topic coverage through consultation with young people.

4. Expand the national sexual violence prevention programme in secondary schools across Scotland

Activity: Rape Crisis Scotland continues to provide a national sexual violence prevention programme[17] to local authority secondary schools across Scotland. Prevention Workers deliver workshops modules that cover gender, consent, sexual violence and how it can be prevented, sexualisation and pornography, social media, the impact of sexual violence and how to access support. The programme aims to provide consistency in approaches to the prevention of sexual violence and contributes to Equally Safe in its aim to address the systematic inequality, attitudes and assumptions that give rise to violence and abusive behaviour.

Since 2016 the programme has worked with over 60,800 young people with a programme of 1-3 workshops. Programmes have been delivered in the majority of local authorities. There is consistently high accord with programme outcomes; 91% young people agreed/strongly agreed with the statements on increases/improvements in knowledge and understanding following the workshops.

Building on the positive evaluation of the programme in 2015,[18] Rape Crisis Scotland continues to monitor the impact through teacher and young people's feedback.

Delivery continues across all the newly funded areas. By end of June 2019 Rape Crisis Scotland had reached a total of 6300 young people in 41 schools across 12 local authorities, including outreach delivery to Western Isles and to a school in Moray to start to lay the foundations for a dedicated post in future. It is Rape Crisis Scotland's aim to have reached 14,350 young people in 66 schools in 2020.

Ongoing activity: Additional capacity development is underway by Rape Crisis Scotland, to enable support, training, education and consultancy services to colleges and universities in Scotland, to ensure that measures taken to prevent and respond to Gender Based Violence, reflect survivors' experiences and best meet their needs.

Key achievements to date include the delivery of staff training programmes and student education programmes in 11 institutions, including 3 colleges, 6 universities and 2 University of Highlands and Islands campus colleges, in collaboration with 8 Rape Crisis centres, 6 Women's Aid groups and Police Scotland.

Scoping has also been undertaken on needs and logistical and resource implications in relation to direct provision of training, education, support and consultancy services with Rape Crisis centres, Women's Aid groups, student survivors, colleges and universities.

To support and contribute to the Equally Safe Toolkit resources[19] an online introductory student engagement tool has been developed which will be piloted in 2020. The implementation of the toolkit is also supported by the Equally Safe in Colleges and Universities Working Group, who participated in the delivery of seminars at three regional events, the Emily Test[20] campaign and the scoping of revision of the guidance[21] for higher education institutions on how to handle alleged student misconduct

Ongoing activity: With support from the Scottish Government, Education Scotland continues to deploy their Improvement Gender Balance Development Officers across Scotland, to drive improvement in gender balance and equality within the context of the national STEM Education and Training Strategy.

5. Consider how the Sidestep peer mentoring and community engagement approach can support young people at risk or affected by sexual exploitation and their families.

Activity: In 2016 an evaluation was undertaken of the Action for Children intervention model, Sidestep, focussing on a partnership approach with mentoring, coaching and education support services, and providing intensive support approaches for dealing with young people who were viewed as high risk of becoming involved in organised crime.

The evaluation reported reduced offending and greater stability among most of the participants, and provided reflections on practice and identification of 'at risk' young people.

Ongoing activity: Following the positive results of Sidestep, Action for Children is rolling out their Crime Early Intervention Service[22] across Scotland and the UK, delivered by a team of mixed skills and abilities, including 'peer mentors', to offer accessible role models for teenagers who have previously resisted other types of mainstream support. The roll out has promoted a partnership approach, working collaboratively with key stakeholders in pilot sites to embed the project to fit local needs/priorities. This focus has allowed agencies to work together in identifying, sharing and managing concerns around young people at risk of or affected by exploitation, with Side Step delivering the direct interventions to young people and their families.

Following a contextual safeguarding approach, the partnerships formed will allow for early identification, prevention and diversion tactics to be employed by the most relevant agency - recognising that to successfully reduce risk and harm caused to young people a multi-agency response is required.

6. Support schools, colleges and education services in undertaking their safeguarding responsibilities.

Activity: Education Scotland developed a Safeguarding CSE page[23] on the National

Improvement Hub and continues to update and monitor page views and downloads. In addition, issues related to CSE are highlighted through inspection and review approaches where schools and centres are required to submit self-evaluation information about staff professional learning training and development of resilience in children and young people, throughout the curriculum. This enables the evaluation of practice and support schools require for improvement.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Command of the UK's National Crime Agency, are working in collaboration with Education Scotland to conduct a feasibility study of a resource developed by the National Centre for Social Research[24] (NatCen) which uses school-based sessions supported by bespoke film clips to help adolescents better navigate the risks and potential harms of consensual and non-consensual nude image sharing.

Education Scotland's Digital Learning team has created an online professional learning activity which aims to enable practitioners to develop an understanding of the risks young people face while navigating the online world. The activity explores how young people socialise online, discusses advantages and disadvantages of using social media, and explores the links between online gaming and gambling.

A new Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) education online resource[25] was launched in 2019 to support teachers with resources and information to improve the education for every child and young person to have a happy and healthy life and to have confidence in building positive relationships and making well-informed choices as they move into adulthood

In addition to this, a range of work is ongoing to support delivery of the Equally Safe strategy which is detailed against action 44.

Ongoing activity: The NSPCC Speak Out Stay Safe schools programme[26] continues to deliver sessions to all primary schools in the UK, aiming to equip a generation of children with the knowledge and understanding they need to stay safe from abuse and neglect. Children are taught to speak out if they are worried, either to a trusted adult or Childline

7. Deliver regional safeguarding events for education staff to share learning and best practice.

Activity: Education Scotland's Digital Learning and Community Learning Development teams are working with National Parent Form Scotland (NPFS) in a number of Regional Improvement Collaboratives. This work has resulted in delivering workshops at the Falkirk Area Parent forum annual general meeting and presenting at the NPFS annual Forum in January 2020. These sessions incorporated activities around identifying potential CSE risks while gaming and identifying the grooming process.

In addition, Education Scotland also delivered regional safeguarding in education workshops for staff in February 2020 sharing the range of resources available to support teaching and learning about CSE.

Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety professional learning sessions have been delivered in Dumfries and Galloway at the Safeguarding Network Meetings in early 2020. These sessions focussed on the risky behaviours young people demonstrate, ensure that they have a better understanding of technology as an enabler, and that some risks are not dependant on the technology.

8. Ensure that all practitioners and agencies use the same definition of child sexual exploitation to facilitate joint risk assessments and effective multi-agency responses.

Activity: The National CSE Group, in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, developed a national definition of child sexual exploitation, firmly setting this form of abuse within the wider context of child sexual abuse, as well as highlighting the role of the perpetrator. The Group developed and published this definition and summary paper[27] alongside a practitioner briefing paper,[28] setting out the key considerations that should inform all professionals' and agencies' interpretations of their responsibilities in relation to child sexual exploitation.

9. Develop a framework for Child Protection Committees to facilitate a consistent and collaborative approach to identifying and responding to child sexual exploitation across Scotland.

Activity: See Action 1 for resources developed by the data subgroup to support CPCs.

10. Develop guidance for practitioners and agencies to support the identification and assessment of child sexual exploitation.

Activity: The National CSE Group undertook an evaluation exercise in 2018 to consider the resources and guidance available to practitioners. They concluded that the development of a range of CSE guidance and training materials in recent times continued to be available and were well embedded across sectors. Therefore the development of additional guidance referred to in this action was deemed unnecessary. This view is supported by the 2019 survey of Child Protection Committees' Processes and Practices in relation to Child Sexual Exploitation. This survey shows that confidence remains high within CPCs in terms of developing local CSE practice guidance and/or tools to support and inform practitioners to recognise and respond to CSE and peer to peer abuse.

A revision of the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland is currently underway and will ensure consistency with legislative and policy frameworks as well as current practice developments. The Guidance will include a comprehensive section on child sexual exploitation and, in particular, address principles, definitions, roles, responsibilities, approaches to assessment, and identifying and responding to child protection concerns.

In order to help support practitioners to find guidance and support documents, CELCIS developed their webpages[29] into a portal to signpost and host a wide range of materials and resources which includes national and local responses and research.

The centre of expertise on child sexual abuse,[30] hosted by Barnardo's, is also a key portal for research and resources[31] on CSE and CSA.

Ongoing activity: Barnardo's continue to develop their Complex Abuse and Exploitation Risk Assessment (CARA) as a multi-agency risk screening checklist. They are working alongside local authorities including Aberdeen, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, and Glasgow, basing developments and reviews on the seven principles[32] developed by the centre of expertise on child sexual abuse, to identify young people at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE). CARA's aim is to develop an approach across Scotland, based on the experiences of children, young people and their families, that ensures that all vulnerable groups are identified and supported, with practitioners having a better understanding of the interventions required when working with children at risk.

11. Deliver child sexual exploitation regional workshops for practitioners to share learning and best practice.

Activity: Regional CSE workshops were delivered, and subsequently evaluated, throughout 2017[33] and 2019[34], with the latter series of workshops broadened to include an emphasis on the links between CSE and child trafficking, and how human trafficking legislation could be better utilised to support victims of CSE. The workshops provided an opportunity for child protection committees to share key learning in relation to local area approaches to the care and protection of young people experiencing or at risk of sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation as well as child trafficking.

Locations for the 2017 workshop sessions were strategically scheduled to cover Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City, Moray, Fife, Dundee, Perth and Kinross, Forth Valley, Angus, Edinburgh, East Lothian, West Lothian, the Borders, Glasgow, North, East and South Ayrshire, North and South Lanarkshire, East and West Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde, Argyll and Bute, Dumfries, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire and Shetland. Sessions in 2019 included locations to cover Stirling and Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Angus, Dundee and the Highlands.

Evaluations of the workshops indicate that participants noted an increase in general CSE knowledge, awareness and understanding.

Ongoing activity: The Child Trafficking Strategy Group is developing a further set of joint CSE and child trafficking workshops to be delivered in 2020/2021.

12. Deliver 150 community events across Scotland to support local areas to raise public and practitioner awareness of child sexual exploitation.

Activity: Since March 2017, multi-agency and single agency training has been delivered by CSE Group partners to strengthen capacity national developments and local responses.

Supported by the Scottish Government's Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Fund, Barnardo's Scotland has delivered multi-agency training and events across Scotland to increase awareness.

Events have ranged from short briefing sessions to half-day and full-day training, workshops and CPD events. Training has been provided for a number of statutory services, including social work, health and education, as well as Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and Children's Reporters. Residential care staff and staff working with 16+ care experienced young people have benefited from bespoke training, as have social work students at Stirling and Queen Margaret Universities.

Staff employed by Security Scotland, as well as staff working in shopping centres, hotels and the night-time economy, have attended awareness training. Events have also been delivered to community groups and colleagues in the third sector, such as call handlers at Crimestoppers.

See also action delivered against actions 4, 6, 10, 11 16, 20 and 21.

13. Develop the new community justice self-evaluation framework to cross-reference adult and child protection arrangements, including the response to child sexual exploitation, to support Community Planning Partnerships in evaluating the effectiveness of their response.

Activity: The Care Inspectorate developed a guide to self-evaluation for community justice in Scotland[35] in 2016 which has been widely disseminated. In its section relating to assessing and responding to risk and need, it references a clear indicator of sharing information responsibly and having clear protocols in place to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults from sexual exploitation.

14. Deliver training sessions to raise awareness of the links between child sexual exploitation and radicalisation.

Activity: In 2017, the Scottish Government published an ambitious programme of work[36] to tackle hate crime and build community cohesion. Subsequently, an Action Group, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, was established with key stakeholders to take this work forward. The group's identified priorities are on victim support through raising awareness of hate crime and encouraging reporting, and the need to ensure better evidence and data around hate incidents and crime.

In 2017 the Scottish Government published the Race Equality Action Plan[37] outlining more than 120 actions to be taken forward to secure better outcomes for ethnic minorities in Scotland. The Race Equality Action Plan shows leadership in advancing race equality and builds on the Race Equality Framework[38] published in March 2016.

The Scottish Government allocated over £2.6m in 2019/20 to fund organisations working to advance race equality.

In 2018, the Scottish Government launched Scotland's second New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy,[39] a partnership between the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council. Work with partners is underway to implement the strategy which runs until 2022.

In 2018 the Scottish Government published A Connected Scotland,[40] our first national strategy to tackle social isolation and loneliness, overseen by a National Implementation Group that is currently developing a Delivery Plan.

15. Agree a template to capture information about child sexual exploitation and implement across Scotland to improve consistency of information collection.

Activity: See Action 17.

16. Pilot, evaluate and roll out a child sexual exploitation and abuse intelligence sharing toolkit to strengthen the multi-agency response to prevention, disruption and detection.

Activity: The Partners Intelligence Toolkit, developed by Police Scotland, is a secure and confidential electronic system that enables key partners to share important information they receive during the course of their work. This electronic portal provides capable partners with the means to securely submit key information, whilst maintaining safeguards that protect the source of the information. This portal does not replace current incident or crime reporting; rather, it will enhance procedures already in place and provide information that will assist in pro-actively targeting perpetrators of CSE.

In February 2020, a number of partners across Highlands and Islands were trained in the use of Partners Intelligence with the pilot officially commencing on 17 February 2020. This will be continuously reviewed with the second pilot area identified in Aberdeen, planned to commence in 2020.

In 2016 Barnardo's Scotland commenced a pilot of the Reducing the Impact of Sexual Exploitation (RISE)[41] project. This project, enabled CSE Advisers to work closely with Police Scotland officers to identify, protect and support children and young people who are vulnerable or at risk of CSE, and those who have been identified as victims, and to prevent CSE by disrupting patterns of perpetration. The workstreams consist of training and consultation; direct work with children and families; as well as improving intelligence sharing by identifying and reducing harm and risk, gathering information and disrupting perpetrator behaviour and providing training and support for practitioners.

Key findings from a 2019 implementation evaluation[42] noted the improvement of multi-agency knowledge and skills as a result of the advisory service, as well as the vital role advisers are playing in improving multi-agency collaboration and information sharing. This results in better trauma aware practice and trauma sensitive systems.

Ongoing activity: In addition to Aberdeen and Dundee, RISE pilots have been extended to Glasgow and Fife.

17. Develop a coordinated evidence base in which existing and emerging information and research is consolidated and gaps identified.

Ongoing activity: It is widely acknowledged[43] that the lack of data on the context, frequency and scale of abuse, and about perpetrators, both in Scotland and the rest of the UK, makes it difficult to establish the number of current victims and the contexts and circumstances in which CSA and CSE take place. It is the strong view of agencies and service providers that CSA and CSE is significantly under-reported and that determining the scale, nature and prevalence of CSA and CSE is complex and challenging.

CSE is a profoundly sensitive area, often hidden, and there are many barriers to data collection. There is a lack of disclosure from children and young people, and a lack of recognition by some children and young people that they are being sexually abused or sexually exploited; as well as challenging ethical questions around the collection of CSE data. There is also a lack of easily accessible and extractable CSE data, with no central mechanisms for collection other than as a 'cause of concern', if a child is registered on the Child Protection Register, and, for children who have been trafficked and sexually abused, via the National Referral Mechanism. A number of different agencies collect relevant data (e.g. Police Scotland, social work, SCRA, health professionals), but there is a lack of consistency around approaches to categorising and capturing CSE data at a local level, which makes comparison and aggregation to form a national view impossible.

Over the last three years the Scottish Government, in partnership with the CSE Group, have explored several avenues to address the gaps in CSE data in Scotland:

  • Scottish Government explored the possibility of commissioning research to work with stakeholders to improve the consistency and accessibility of data on the scale, nature and prevalence of CSA and CSE, to strengthen the evidence base and to support professionals to appropriately share and make best use of information. However, issues around the timescales and difficulties in setting up access to data with partnership agencies prevented the research from going ahead.
  • Facilitated by Barnardo's Scotland, the centre for expertise on child sexual abuse chaired a multi-agency scoping meeting in 2019 with agencies in Scotland, to discuss challenges and aims for data and evidence development. A number of priorities and research themes were identified.
  • The Scottish Government have undertaken extensive consultation with the centre of expertise on child sexual abuse to consider the potential for collaboration.
  • The Scottish Government have also explored the possibility of including questions on historical (for adults) or current (for children) CSA and CSE in various existing surveys; however, there are complex ethical considerations to overcome in asking questions of such a sensitive nature in a survey context, and consideration and consultation of such a notion is ongoing

Several existing sources of data have been identified, that develop our understanding of CSA and CSE. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have compiled a range of indicators from different data sources to enable better understanding of the extent and circumstances of child abuse.[44] While this compendium focuses on data sources in England and Wales, it is reasonable to expect that the extent and circumstances of child abuse will be similar in Scotland to the rest of the UK. In particular, the compendium includes a new estimate of the prevalence of CSA drawn from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which suggests that 7.5% of adult population have experienced some form of sexual abuse before the age of 16.

The Scottish Government continues to work with the ONS to include relevant data specific to Scotland, in the compendium. The centre for expertise on child sexual abuse have analysed data from the compendium, drawing out some key caveats and considerations.[45]

Additionally, in 2019 the centre for expertise on child sexual abuse published practical guidance for organisations - including a data collection improvement tool[46] - for monitoring the scale and nature of CSA, including CSE. This includes a data collection template and guidance which sets out a list of 30 data fields with recommended definitions, to be used by services working with CSA cases. This support them to improve their data collection and therefore their capacity to extract meaningful insights and improve practice, which could significantly improve agencies individual and collective local understanding of CSA and CSE. This guidance can benefit local areas, helping them to better understand patterns and profiles and with planning.

Scottish Government has supported the development of a Minimum Dataset for Child Protection Committees in Scotland, as part of the Child Protection Improvement Programme. The Minimum Dataset is a package of data collation, presentation, analysis, reporting and scrutiny supports. The package will deliver robust data sets to support child protection improvement, local planning and service development, and expanded analytical capacity. CELCIS has led on the development of the Minimum Dataset and has been supporting Child Protection Committees to adopt it. Child Protection Committees can supplement the Minimum Dataset with additional information depending on the needs of their respective areas.

18. Develop guidance for medical practitioners on child sexual exploitation for inclusion in national child protection guidance for health professionals in Scotland.

Activity: In 2016 guidelines for health practitioners were developed and in 2017 the Scottish Government published 'Child sexual exploitation: a guide for health practitioners'[47] on identifying and responding to a child or young person who may be at risk of or affected by sexual exploitation.

Activity: Scotland's Chief Medical Officer leads a multi-agency taskforce for the improvement of services for adults and children who have experienced rape and sexual assault. They are developing a clinical pathway for healthcare professionals working to support adults who present having experienced rape and sexual assault.

The Taskforce is also developing a Clinical Pathway for children and young people following sexual abuse. A consultation has taken place on the draft pathway and publication is expected in summer 2020. The Child's Pathway is critical to the child and family accessing therapeutic recovery services following abuse.

19. Identify action at national level to support local areas raise awareness of child sexual exploitation with night-time economy workers.

Since March 2017, multi-agency and single agency training, along with specific training for night time economy staff has been delivered by CSE Group partners to strengthen capacity and inform both national developments and local responses. This work includes community briefings, expansion of frontline services and a specific focus to support night time economy workers to identify, address and tackle child sexual exploitation.

Barnardo's Scotland developed guidance and a range of materials as part of their Nightwatch[48] awareness raising programme. A national hotline operated by Barnardo's and Crimestoppers was established to enable employees in the night time economy to report concerns confidentially and anonymously. This approach mirrors contextual safeguarding by working alongside different partners and with a focus on location.

20. Evaluate the impact of the national awareness raising campaign and work with partners and key stakeholders to extend its reach.

Activity: An evaluation report of the 2016 CSEthesigns marketing campaign[49] summarises its impact and reach and highlights the campaign's successes in informing parents and carers about the warning signs of CSE, providing information on the appropriate course of action when concerned about a child and the increased public awareness of identifying CSE.

Activity: Barnardo's Scotland undertook a pilot national survey[50] in 2018, conducted by YouGov Plc., which attracted the participation of 1,007 adults (18+) and weighted to be representative of the Scottish adult population. The survey examined public understanding of child sexual exploitation in Scotland. Key findings include:

  • That public understanding of child sexual exploitation is complex and that different concepts appear salient in different contexts, sometimes in contradictory ways;
  • That men appear less engaged with the topic of child sexual exploitation than women;
  • While people acknowledge in general that child sexual exploitation is an issue, people are less likely to think that it is an issue in their local area and most likely reflecting a public narrative of child sexual exploitation as 'other' rather than something we can all play a role in preventing;
  • That there are particular messages about child sexual exploitation that do not appear well embedded in public understanding, including that older children (16/17 year olds) can be affected, and that children themselves may carry out exploitation.

Activity: Police Scotland have completed two campaigns targeting perpetrators of online CSE, both including a call to action for those offending online, or thinking about offending, to seek help by contacting Stop it Now!. The campaigns aimed to speak directly to perpetrators to make it clear the consequences of their actions.

The 2018 campaign, named #NotMyFriend, featured posters of teenage boys and girls with the slogan 'You're one click away from losing everything'. The 2019 campaign, named #StopItNow, featured digital posters with well-known emojis, again highlighting what perpetrators would stand to lose when caught. Both campaigns observed an increase in contact through Stop It Now! website and helpline.

Ongoing Activity: In April 2020 Police Scotland launched their third campaign targeting online perpetrators of online CSE. The campaign is called 'GetHelpOrGetCaught' and is a short film to demonstrate that grooming a child online is no different to grooming a child offline. The call to action will be #GetHelpOrGetCaught and will again direct those offending or in danger of offending to seek help from Stop It Now!

21. Raise awareness and understanding of child sexual abuse with sports clubs, churches and faith organisations, residential care homes for children and young people, LGBT communities and organisations supporting children with disabilities.

Activity: Supported by the Scottish Government, Stop It Now! Scotland developed the Upstream[51] online resource in 2019, as a primary prevention toolkit, supporting learning, early identification and the prevention of child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation, as well as providing information on taking action. Upstream provides a range of practical information, evidence-based advice and resources for adults, including parents and carers, or anyone working or volunteering with children, to identify potential risk as early as possible and then take steps to mitigate that risk.

Upstream recognises there are some groups of children and young people that are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation as well as some settings and contexts where children may be at elevated risk of victimisation. These include care experienced children and young people or children on the edge of care; faith and belief communities; sports organisations and youth work settings; children affected by disabilities; and LGBTQ++ children and young people. Members of these communities were consulted during development of Upstream and were also involved at testing stage.

In addition to engagement activity undertaken by the Scottish Government and Ministers with a wide range of bodies to discuss what else could be done to improve our child protection system in Scottish sport, the Scottish Government has, in 2019, made an additional £2 million available to sportscotland to invest in key priorities, including child protection.

Continued funding from the Scottish Government is also provided to Children 1st through sportscotland for training, information and support to sports' governing bodies through the Safeguarding in Sport service.

In 2017, new standards on child wellbeing and protection in sport[52] which is rights-based and child-centred, was developed by the Safeguarding in Sport service to ensure sports organisations adopt best practice in this critical area.

Additionally, in response to the recommendations of the Independent Review of Sexual Abuse in Scottish Football,[53] the Scottish FA has made a number of improvements to implement the board directive on wellbeing and protection, first issued in 2016, including the adoption of consistent policies and procedures by all members as well as the training of almost 12,000 people on child wellbeing and protection by 700 club Child Wellbeing and Protection Officers across Scotland.

22. Reform the system of civil orders available to protect communities from those who may commit sexual offences.

Ongoing activity: Once commenced Chapters 3 to 6 of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Offences (Scotland) 2016 Act will provide for the creation of Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO) and Sexual Risk Orders (SRO). These two new orders will replace the existing set of three orders that can be imposed on convicted sex offenders and those thought to pose a risk of sexual harm to a child under 16. The grounds on which the new orders will be made are wider than those for the current orders, so they could be used by the police to protect adults at risk of harm (including 16 and 17 year olds) as well as children. The test of 'serious sexual harm' in existing provision is to be replaced and a court will be able to grant a new order if it is satisfied that it is necessary to protect a person from 'sexual harm'. This lower threshold is designed to ensure courts can impose an order to protect the community where a realistic threat to public protection exists. The Act will also remove the condition that the subject of a risk of sexual harm order must have carried out a specified act in relation to a child on at least two occasions, along with the need for evidence from within the last three months to form the basis of an application for a sexual risk order. This will assist the police in the prevention of sexual harm.

Commencement of these provisions is contingent on the UK Government introducing legislation addressing the cross-jurisdictional enforcement issues, which are imperative to the effectiveness of the Orders and the risk management of individuals subject to them, across all parts of the UK. To date, the UK Government have not identified a suitable legislative vehicle to make these changes.

Outcome 2: Children and young people at risk of or experiencing sexual exploitation and their families receive appropriate and high quality support

Action / Activity and Impact

23. Ensure that return interviews are undertaken in all cases where a child or young people has been missing to help identify abuse.

Activity: The National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland,[54] published in 2017, emphasised the need for return discussions to take place for all those who return from a missing episode. In the 2018[55] progress report, it notes that return discussion training was developed to ensure that all those who have returned from a missing episode receive sensitive and appropriate support and that training is being delivered across Scotland.

Return discussion training in 2018 reached 342 people who worked across 27 of the 32 local authorities, which training included six child training sessions and two child train the trainers sessions. Police Scotland statistics show that in 2018-19 93% of returned missing people received a return discussion by a police officer, social worker, teacher, care or NHS staff. The impact and depth of the discussions is variable from episode to episode in a lot of cases and more work is being taken forward to enhance knowledge and standardise approach to all missing persons investigations.

Ongoing activity: Following the 2018 update report and return discussion training, a national co-ordinator has been employed to work with partners in local areas to identify, enhance and disseminate good practice. This work includes delivering further targeted return discussion training for those who work directly with people who go missing, including children and young people, in local areas. The co-ordinator has been working with practitioners in Dundee, Fife and Edinburgh in 2019-20, with further work to be taken forward across more local authorities in 2020-21 to deliver action identified in The National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland. The work being progressed by the national co-ordinator complements specific work being taken forward in local areas such as Edinburgh, where Barnardo's have been commissioned to provide return discussions for looked after children who have gone missing from care.

24. Ensure that relevant training for practitioners highlights the links between going missing and vulnerability to abuse.

Activity: Return discussion training discussed in action 23 has highlighted links between going missing and vulnerability to abuse, whether verbal, emotional, physical or sexual. The training is being re-targeted, through the national co-ordinator in 2020, to those who work directly with people who go missing.

As part of the National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland, Education Scotland worked in collaboration with Missing People UK, Barnardo's, education practitioners and third sector partners to produce an education resource[56] to support learning and teaching relating to going missing. It includes a collection of activities that can be used with children and young people who are at risk of running away or going missing.

Ongoing activity: Alongside the return discussion training, the Scottish Government have funded Missing People and Barnardo's to develop an education resource for children and young people, and education practitioners. The resource, available from April 2020, will equip practitioners with the information to highlight risks and links of going missing and the vulnerability of abuse as well as where support can be accessed and this will be complemented by an online resource that can be accessed by children and young people.

25. Ensure that prevention planning for going missing takes place for vulnerable individuals and groups.

Activity: The National Framework for Missing Person highlights the need for prevention planning for vulnerable people including children and young people and adults. Through child and adult protection guidance this work will be taken forward alongside protocols for vulnerable individuals in care and within the national health service that have been developed and operated by Police Scotland.

The pilot protocols have shown that it is possible to plan to prevent someone going missing, or coming to harm when they do go missing, through practical steps including: early identification of risk behaviour escalating, allowing for early intervention for adults and children; giving responsibility in particular to children and young people in care, to help them understand how their actions impact on the decision making of staff and why certain steps are taken, such as calling the police.

The protocols have shown, particularly with looked after children who go missing from residential and foster care, that if a child or young person is empowered in their own care plan this can lead to better decision making and trust which can then reduce risks and lower the number of missing episodes. This was emphasised through the evaluation of the protocol by CELCIS in 2018 where 'Planning for individual children and young people, and ensuring their views are heard, is key' was a clear recommendation and finding in relation to risk assessment through the protocol.

Ongoing activity: Following the CELCIS evaluation of the looked after children who go missing from residential and foster care protocol, it was re-written and is being developed in a wider body of work within V Division. Police Scotland will consider the findings of this work prior to wider roll out across the country in 2020. Roll out will be determined by discussions with partners and agreement put in place to ensure the most appropriate way forward for preventing vulnerable groups from going missing.

26. Market the Runaway and Say Something helpline services directly to young people in Scotland to ensure that more children and young people are supported when they are thinking of going missing or need help to stay safe.

Activity: The Missing People charity established and run the Runaway helpline for young people who are, have been or may go missing to provide help and support for them and their families when required. The Scottish Government have provided funding to Missing People from 2016 to 2020 to build awareness and use of the Runaway helpline and their live chat service by children and young people in Scotland who are missing, have been missing or may be thinking about going missing.

In each year of funding from 2016-17, Missing People have worked towards their outcomes and have met or exceeded their target of beneficiaries of their Runaway helpline. In 2018-19, 2142 children and young people in Scotland used the Runaway helpline website, with 161 listened to and supported to actively explore options to become safer, including through the online chat service. A further 480 children and young people in Scotland have been contacted through the textsafe option.

Ongoing activity: Missing People have continued to work in 2019-20 to increase awareness and use of their helpline, chat service and website to children and young people in Scotland, alongside the use of child rescue alerts, when appropriate, with Police Scotland. The use of the services will be further enhanced following the launch and use of new education resources (action 24) that will allow practitioners to raise awareness of vulnerability and risk and where support can be accessed alongside an online resource that can be used by children and young people to identify support services.

27. Pilot a protocol for looked after children who go missing from residential and foster care with a view to rolling out nationally.

Activity: See Actions 24, 25 and 26

28. Support all care services for looked after and accommodated children being inspected and address any issues in identifying and supporting vulnerable children and young people who may be at risk of, or affected by, sexual exploitation.

Activity: As part of an inspection focus area, in 2017 the Care Inspectorate collated information from a focused scrutiny programme which looked at how well care services are preventing and responding effectively to child sexual exploitation.

Care homes for children and young people, mainstream residential schools, secure accommodation, and adoption and fostering services were inspected and key findings from the Care Inspectorate's 2018 report[57] highlighted that staff in registered care services were generally well informed about the risks of child sexual exploitation and that they understood their roles and responsibilities. Inspectors were confident staff would act appropriately to protect children and young people who they identified as being at risk from child sexual exploitation.

Other key findings highlighted that the majority of care plans contained effectively-implemented strategies to help young people to be safe and that staff awareness was supported by well-considered policies, coupled with effective training and development which helped staff to be confident.

Ongoing activity: Published in 2017, the Scottish Social Services Council's Standard[58] for Foster Care provides a framework for the learning and development of foster carers, which includes the requirement for understanding how to contribute to keeping children, young people and others safe and, in particular, an understanding of ways to respond appropriately to those who disclose concerns about risks, harm and safety. Consideration of options for implementation of the Standard will be undertaken in the context of the findings of the Independent Care Review.[59]

The Fostering Network's revised Skills to Foster pre-approval training[60] also sets out the legislative frameworks and mandatory safeguarding duties of foster carers in relation to abuse and neglect, and keeping children safe in the digital world.

During 2020, training will be developed for kinship carers in Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety, focusing on developing the knowledge, skills and confidence of kinship carers in supporting their digital lives and those of the children in their care

29. Consider further action to provide better protection for children and young people with learning disabilities and; support to develop an understanding of relationships and risk

Activity: Building on the 2013 keys to life Strategy[61] which included a focus on better protecting children and young people with learning disabilities, the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) published in 2019, The keys to life Implementation Framework 2019 - 2021.[62] This framework sets out key achievements such as examples of good practice around Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenting Education for children and young people with learning disabilities, including the needs of people with learning disabilities in the new Mental Health Quality Indicators.

The Framework also sets out a commitment to recognise the rights of people with learning disabilities to enjoy and maintain healthy relationships, including sexual relationships, and support the early years development of children with learning disabilities, including ensuring the needs of young children with learning disabilities are reflected in the implementation of The Scottish Government's Play Strategy.

Scottish Government funding enabled the development of the Common Knowledge UK app[63] in 2019 for young people with autism and/or learning difficulties, the first of its kind in Scotland, designed to guide young people aged 14+ through those initial stages of becoming intimate with someone, how to keep themselves safe and promote healthy attitudes to both.

In 2019 Education Scotland launched the refreshed Autism Toolbox[64] in partnership with the Scottish Government and the Autism in Schools Working and Development Group, an online resource to support the inclusion of autistic learning in early learning and childcare, and primary and secondary school settings, which includes information on relationships and sexual health.

In addition, the Scottish Government developed an online resource[65] in 2019 to help improve the experiences of disabled children, young people, and their families. It provides clear and accessible information on national policies, entitlements, rights and the different options for support available, seeks to help families navigate through national policy, and empowers them with knowledge of and clarity over their rights. It also aims to set fair expectations for support available to families and young people living with disabilities and additional needs, while working towards removing the barriers they face in day to day life.

Ongoing activity: Research such as the 2019 NSPCC report[66] examining the views of parents and carers on preventing sexual abuse of disabled children, and the 2019 Internet Matters report[67] looking at the potential online risks that different groups of vulnerable children may face online, have been key drivers in considering the action required to address the needs of children and young people most vulnerable to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.

In addressing these specific issues, a range of action is underway through the National Action Plan on Internet Safety for Children and Young People[68] and the Fairer Scotland for Disabled People delivery plan.[69]

30. Ensure that more children and young people at risk of or affected by sexual exploitation and other forms of sexual abuse are identified early and receive appropriate support.

Activity: In 2017 NSPCC undertook a research study[70] which examined the provision of therapeutic support for children and young people following CSA across the West of Scotland, as well as exploring the child's pathway to support and how need is assessed. Findings were presented to the National CSE Group in 2018. The study's research has been used extensively to influence, for instance, the work of the Chief Medical Officer's Taskforce in the development of its child's pathway, as well as the deliberations of the Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People.

Activity: In 2017 Healthcare Improvement Scotland developed standards[71] for Healthcare and Forensic Medical services for people, including children and young people, who have experienced sexual assault, rape and sexual abuse which clarify the responsibility of healthcare in ensuring victims access support and recovery services, depending on their need.

Activity: The independent Children and Young People's Mental Health Taskforce,[72] jointly commissioned by the Scottish Government and COSLA, identified children and young people 'at risk' of developing mental health problems, which includes those experiencing abuse and neglect, as a priority group for action.

Activity: The Scottish Government provided £58 million of third sector funding over the last four years to strengthen early intervention and support for children, their families and communities across Scotland. Through the Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Fund the Scottish Government has funded a number of organisations to support children and young people affected by harm, abuse and neglect. This includes:

  • Funding to NSPCC to deliver and further develop a service to improve parent-child relationships,
  • Funding to Childline to increase counselling sessions and opportunities to access support across various platforms, in order to increase positive outcomes and reduce ongoing harm.
  • Funding to Barnardo's Scotland to develop evidence, research, training and guidance to improve CSE practice and policy in Scotland; and to better identify, support and reduce the number of children and young people at risk of, or affected by, CSE
  • Funding to the Moira Anderson Foundation to provide therapy and support to children and young people affected by child sexual abuse, in order to increase their wellbeing, and to reduce stress and the negative impact of CSA.
  • Funding to Stop it Now! Scotland to develop an online resource, Upstream, to better support the public and practitioners in identifying and preventing child sexual abuse.

31. Develop a skills and knowledge framework for those working with adults and children and young people affected by trauma and abuse to help practitioners identify the risk of abuse and respond to keep people safe.

Activity: Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to develop a robust Knowledge and Skills Framework for Psychological Trauma, led by NHS Education for Scotland.[73] This framework lays out the essential and core knowledge and skills needed by all tiers of the Scottish workforce to ensure that the needs of children and adults affected by trauma are recognised, understood and responded to, in a way which recognises individual strengths, acknowledges rights and ensures timely access to effective care, support and interventions for those who need it.

32. Develop a national training plan for those working with children and young people and adults affected by trauma and abuse to inform and prioritise commissioning of services.

Activity: The Scottish Psychological Trauma Training Plan,[74] published in 2019, provides practical guidance for employers and organisations about the steps they can take to develop, commission and embed the use of high quality trauma training, and proposes organisational and leadership structures which are likely to support the development of a trauma-informed workforce.

33. Develop a programme to support implementation of the trauma and abuse skills and knowledge framework and training plan.

Activity: In 2018 a National Trauma Training Programme was established to implement the knowledge and skills framework and to support all sectors of the workforce to upskill staff in trauma informed practice, as well as to embed and sustain this model of working.

With £1.35 million investment by the Scottish Government, the programme of work is being led by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and informed by people with lived experience, to create and deliver quality training resources. Over 5000 people across public services, including police officers, nurses and social workers, have been trained to date.

The programme is due to be expanded further to include a particular focus on maternity services for women who are survivors of trauma, particularly childhood sexual abuse and/or adult sexual assault and rape as well as professions working with looked after children, care leavers and those on the edges of care.

An evaluation strategy for the programme is in development and delivery trials are underway in Glasgow, Argyll and Bute, and Midlothian which will trial different approaches to delivery, that all focus on staff supporting people in greatest need, for instance, people in substance misuse, homelessness or mental health services.

Ongoing activity: Work continues as part of the training programme, to develop and support a consistent, highly skilled, trauma-informed workforce across all frontline services. This includes:

  • the development of a range of online resources including a series of high quality e-modules, webinars and animations
  • development of trauma-informed Leaders Training
  • local trials testing different approaches to delivering training to priority public sector frontline workers
  • the roll out of Psychological Trauma Implementation Co-ordinators based within Integrated Joint Boards with responsibility for specialist training, supervision and coaching in their areas
  • support for tailored trauma-related projects including Routine Enquiry and Response, Forensic Medical Examinations, Judicial Institute Training, Joint Investigative Interview Team Training.

34. Report on emerging themes in relation to child sexual exploitation from inspections in the last 12-18 months to inform service planning and delivery.

Activity: In August 2016, the Care Inspectorate published findings[75] from a number of inspections highlighting local responses to prevent and reduce child sexual exploitation.

Key findings from the report include:

1. An assurance of the seriousness with which the risks of sexual exploitation present for young people are being taken by community planning partnerships across the country. In all areas, child protection committees had been given key responsibility for developing an action plan and taking forward work on child sexual exploitation. In a number of areas, managers commented on the usefulness of the Scottish Government led pilot using the self-assessment tool developed by the University of Bedfordshire. This had helped them prioritise areas of strength and the most important areas to meet local need.

2. Most partnerships had focused on raising staff awareness across a range of services. Some had developed more specialist training for staff in key positions, such as social workers, residential and foster carers and staff working in sexual health clinics. All partnerships had strengthened child protection and/or vulnerable person procedures.

3. Most partnerships were including risks of sexual exploitation into the safety awareness provided in schools, building on existing Curriculum for Excellence programmes. The role of third sector organisations, particularly Barnardo's, in working alongside community planning partnerships to raise awareness and promote innovation, was commendable. A few partnerships had lost momentum following an initial burst of activity. Staff and managers acknowledged the challenges of sustaining a focus specifically on child sexual exploitation in the context of changing structures and a range of competing demands.

35. Publish Scotland's first Human Trafficking and Exploitation strategy.

Activity: In 2017 the Scottish Government published the Trafficking and Exploitation strategy,[76] recognising the links between child trafficking and child sexual exploitation, and incorporating the work being delivered through this National Action Plan and its associated campaigns.

The Child Trafficking Strategy Group (CTSG) was established in recognition of the particular vulnerabilities of children being trafficked and how this interacts with the systems and processes of victim support. The focus of the Group are to identify and support child victims of trafficking, support practitioners and implement the relevant legislation.

Key achievements of the work undertaken by the Child Trafficking Strategy Group from 2017 to date is set out in annual progress reports of 2018,[77] 2019[78] and 2020,[79] which include:

  • The delivery of workshops in partnership with the National Child Sexual Exploitation Group to raise awareness on trafficking and encourage Child Protection Committees to share key learning in relation to local approaches to the care and protection of young people at risk of exploitation and trafficking.
  • Publishing revised age assessment guidance to reflect Section 12 of the Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, which was implemented in January 2018. This introduced a provision that requires relevant authorities to presume the victim is a child for the purpose of receiving immediate support and services until their age is formally established.
  • Supporting the development of third sector advocacy and legal support for unaccompanied children.
  • Working extensively with the Home Office on the National Referral Mechanism.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 places a legal duty on Scottish Ministers to publish a Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy. The Act also required that on a rolling three-year basis, the Strategy should be reviewed, a report on the review should be published, and if necessary the Strategy may be revised.

As part of the statutory review, the Scottish Government has been undertaking an engagement programme to seek views from key individuals, groups and organisations, as well as survivors themselves, on the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy, its impact and whether changes are required.

Ongoing activity: Work continues on the implementation of section 11 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, which makes provision for an Independent Child Trafficking Guardian (ICTG) to be appointed to provide additional support to children and young people who arrive in Scotland unaccompanied and who are considered being at risk of, or having been trafficked. This legislation will put the role of the Guardian on a statutory footing with other support services. In August 2019, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on the responsibilities and functions of ICTG.[80] The consultation closed in November 2019 and following the tendering process, it is expected that the new ICTG service will be implemented in 2021.

In April 2020 the Scottish Government published the analysis of the consultation[81] on implementing "Duty to Notify" in Scotland, as provided for in section 38 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015.

The Scottish Government continues to work with the UK Government to ensure that the reforms to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) lead to a mechanism which works for Scotland and reflects its distinct systems and legislation. Since 2016 child referrals into the NRM from Scotland have increased.

The Scottish Government is working with COSLA and other partners to deliver age assessment guidance training for first line-managers in Scotland. The first training sessions took place in Spring 2020 with delivery of the remainder of the workshops to be moved online.

The research commissioned by the Scottish Government on child trafficking from the University of Stirling to get a better understanding of the routes into and out of trafficking for children in Scotland will be published in 2020.

Outcome 3: Perpetrators are stopped, brought to justice and are less likely to re-offend

Action / Activity and Impact

36. Agree the future direction of online safety work in Scotland.

Activity: In 2017 the Scottish Government published the National Action Plan on Internet Safety for Children and Young People,[82] setting out its priorities to ensure that every child and young person has an age appropriate and evolving understanding of the opportunities and risks which exist in the online world; that every parent and carer is equipped to guide and support their children's online activity; that wider society plays a role in enhancing internet safety for children and young people; that children and young people who have suffered, or are at risk of, abuse are identified and supported; and that potential perpetrators are deterred from committing abuse online.

The Action Plan brings together the wealth of work delivered through Education Scotland, Police Scotland, and the funding through the Scottish Government's Cyber Resilience Learning and Skills Action Plan[83] and Scotland's Digital Strategy,[84] to ensure that children and young people are supported to be resilient and confident in the digital world.

Ongoing activity: In 2019 the Scottish Government formalised the Scottish Online Safety Education Group with membership comprising of the National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (NCA-CEOP), Scottish Government leads in Learning and Child Protection, Police Scotland, Education Scotland and Young Scot.

The Scottish Government continues to participate as a member of the UK Council for Internet Safety[85] (UKCIS) Executive Board, to engage in UK-wide discussions with social media companies and technology firms, focusing on their responsibilities to society and improving online safety. As a member of UKCIS the Scottish Government also continues to work with the UK Government in the development of proposals[86] for the regulation of online services provided in the UK, to tackle online harms.

The UK Internet Watch Foundation, also a member of UKCIS, continues to fulfil an independent role in receiving, assessing and tracing public complaints about child sexual abuse content on the internet and removing online child sexual abuse imagery. In 2018[87] they removed 105,047 Uniform Resource Locators (URL) from the internet, each URL containing anything from one to thousands of images of child sexual abuse and/or child sexual exploitation. In 2019 their analysts processed 260,400 reports, of which 132,700 URLs confirmed to contain images and/or videos of a child being sexually abused were removed from the internet.

The National Action Plan on Internet Safety for Children and Young People includes a focus on research on deterrents to viewing online indecent images of children. A protocol for a Meta-Narrative Review[88] has been developed by the University of Edinburgh, with a report to be published in 2020.

37. Develop a programme of change to improve how evidence is taken from children and vulnerable witnesses.

Activity: In 2017, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service published the recommendations[89] of the Working Group on Recording Evidence in Chief as part of the Evidence and Procedure Review, looking at how the current model for Joint Investigative Interviews (JIIs) and the initial interview process could be strengthened. A number of organisations, including Police Scotland, Social Work Scotland, The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as well as the Scottish Government, are taking forward a range of actions in response. The Scottish Government have committed over £400,000 to a joint training project led by Police Scotland and Social Work Scotland that will create a revised model for JIIs and develop an approach to investigative interviewing of children which is both trauma informed and achieves best evidence through more robust planning and interview techniques.

The JII Project Team has drawn on national and international research and best practice to create a model for JII tailored to the Scottish context; developed training which recognises the depth of knowledge and skills required for this complex work; and developed the training to be credit rated by the Scottish Police College and jointly quality assured with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) in accordance with standards for post qualifying courses. Two pilots of the new Scottish Child Interview Model have been underway since October 2019

Ongoing activity: Further work is underway looking at local structures, necessary to facilitate the consistent delivery of the new approach as well as a review of the Guidance for Interviewers[90] with the intention to publish a new statutory version.

Activity: The Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019 received Royal Assent in June 2019, making it easier for vulnerable witnesses to give evidence in criminal trials. It created a new rule for child witnesses under 18 to ensure that, where they are due to give evidence in the most serious cases, they will be allowed to have it pre-recorded in advance of the trial.

With Scottish Government funding and support, a child and vulnerable witness-friendly evidence and hearings suite opened in Glasgow in 2019, as an exemplar for a trauma informed approach to taking evidence from such witnesses. Lessons learned will be reflected in all future service planning by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.

Ongoing activity: Through a Scottish Government-led multi-agency working group, the phased implementation of the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019 is being progressed. Through Scottish Government funding to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, preparations are being made for the Commencement Regulations coming into force. Work includes the upgrade to venues, technology and equipment, and ensuring an appropriate court infrastructure for the increase in the number of witnesses having their evidence pre-recorded.

Work also continues to the amendment of existing plans for the new Inverness Justice Centre to provide a similar evidence giving suite and the conversion of existing hearing rooms into fixed recording venues in Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

38. Pilot and evaluate the Stop to Listen approach to support children and young people to disclose sexual abuse and support practitioners to act in a child-centred way.

Activity: In 2016 the Stop to Listen project[91] launched, managed by Children 1st in partnership with four local authority pathfinder areas: Perth & Kinross, North Ayrshire, Glasgow, and Renfrewshire. The project's key objectives were to develop child-centred practice, enabling children and young people to be heard effectively, raise the confidence of practitioners in dealing with childhood sexual abuse, improve the quality of evidence gathering through developing patience and a slower pace within the investigation process, and working to reduce the child or young person's fears, which at times lead to retractions of evidence. It also aimed to enable children to tell what has happened to them at their own pace. A key aim of Stop to Listen was to ensure that children and young people affected by child sexual abuse and exploitation received a more child-centered approach and were heard more effectively.

An evaluation summary of the pathfinder project[92] was published in June 2018.

Ongoing activity: Some of the CSE Group member organisations have been participating in the PROMISE[93] Learning Exchange from an early start, which enabled them to thoroughly consider practice in Europe and apply this in the development and implementation of services for children and young people affected by sexual abuse. This promotes a children's rights based approach with planning and operations being led very much by the needs of the child, young person and their family, and resonates fully with the core aims of Stop to Listen.

The learning from Stop to Listen is informing the current considerations of a Barnahus response in Scotland.

39. Share best practice in supporting child victims and witnesses of violence from across Europe with Child Protection Committees.

Ongoing activity: The Scottish Government is exploring the application of the Barnahus[94] concept for immediate trauma informed support for child victims of serious and traumatic crimes within the context of Scotland's healthcare, child protection and criminal justice systems and to explore how Barnahus could work in our adversarial system, which includes cross-examination. Barnahus provides Scotland with an opportunity to design a genuinely child-centred approach to delivering justice, care and recovery for children who have experienced trauma, including, but not solely, child sexual abuse. The core aim of an integrated health, child welfare and justice response to children who have experienced violence and abuse is to ensure that the child is not further traumatised by systems and processes, and that their right to therapeutic recovery is at the heart of the response.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Care Inspectorate have been commissioned by the Scottish Government to develop Scotland-specific standards[95] for Barnahus based on the European PROMISE Quality Standards, in turn based on best practice from the Nordic countries. Work on this project has been temporarily suspended to allow focus on maintaining essential statutory and regulatory duties in response to Covid-19.

It is crucial that the standards are in line with existing cross cutting policy and processes in Scotland and build on existing good practice and improvements, particularly in relation to GIRFEC and Joint Investigative Interviews.

In 2020 Children 1st were successful in their bid for £1.5 million in Dream Funding from the People's Postcode Lottery to deliver a "Child's House for Healing" in partnership with Victim Support Scotland, the University of Edinburgh and Children in England. The funding, over 2 years, will cover capital costs for the building, research, and staffing costs for a co-ordinator of the service, family support workers and trauma recovery staff. Children will be able to give evidence, receive medical care and support to recover from trauma, and be involved in decisions about their protection in the building, which will be designed to feel like a family home.

40. Provide training and accreditation for staff preparing and prosecuting sexual offences cases.

Activity: The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have put in place a system of accreditation for all Case Preparers, Solemn Legal Managers and Indicters engaged in work involving Sexual Offences Work.

Sexual Offences training has been made mandatory for all staff involved in the investigation of sexual offences, or those likely to be exposed to this area of work. The training consists of nine e-learning modules which must be completed before a two day training course. The e-learning include modules addressing child sexual exploitation and raising awareness of childhood sexual abuse. The face to face training is delivered by experienced Procurators Fiscal with inputs from Senior Crown Counsel and external stakeholders including Police Scotland and Rape Crisis Scotland.

The training covers a number of specific areas including; an overview of the legal framework; useful case law; how to prepare and present cases involving sexual abuse victims; the monitoring of sexual offenders; domestic abuse; victims' experiences and the public's perception of victims of sexual abuse. There are also presentations from psychologists with a specific focus on the trauma faced by victims of sexual abuse and psychotherapists with a specific focus on the cultural barriers faced by minority ethnic children, young people and adults.

All of this training is regularly reviewed and updated with feedback collated from those attending to ensure continuous improvement."

41. Use the findings of the evaluation of the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit to inform future development.

Activity: An evaluation[96] of the Child Abuse Investigation Unit in Scotland was undertaken in 2017 to inform the development of mechanisms to share learning and expertise.

These considerations informed the work of the Partners Intelligence Toolkit, developed by Police Scotland -see action noted against point 16.

42. Improve practice to better support young people who may be at risk of or involved in offending.

Activity: In 2018 the Scottish Government established an Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People to improve prevention and early intervention in response to harmful sexual behaviour involving children and young people. The Group's findings[97] were published in 2020, relating to the nature, causes and frequency of harmful sexual behaviour by children towards other children.

The report recognises the growing issues affecting children and young people worldwide, as well as the progressive and preventative action already underway in Scotland to address this issue. It also proposes further actions related to both prevention and intervention.

Ongoing activity: A multi-agency group will be convened to oversee work to be carried out to address the report's proposals, and how some can be integrated into current workstreams tackling gender-based violence and all forms of child abuse. Key areas of focus will be on expanding preventive programmes and interventions, investing in Scotland-specific guidance to support parents, carers and practitioners to better identify and intervene at the earliest stage, and development of clear referral pathways and training frameworks to ensure all professionals have the rights skills and know how to access services and qualified support.

43. Ensure child sexual offences committed in the rest of the UK can be prosecuted in Scotland.

Activity: In May 2017 the provisions of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 came into effect, to improve our response to those who perpetrate offences against children. It extended the extra-territorial jurisdiction of Scottish courts with respect to certain sexual offences committed against children to allow for prosecution in Scottish courts of offences committed elsewhere in the UK. This will reduce the potential trauma for victims of facing more than one trial (for example where an offender commits a series of offences against a victim across the different jurisdictions of the UK) and closes a potential loophole by ensuring that a suspected perpetrator cannot escape justice if there is doubt around exactly where an offence was committed.

This ensures that Scottish courts can prosecute in the very small number of cases where it is not possible to establish which jurisdiction within the UK an offence was committed, and enables courts to prosecute a course of offending behaviour occurring across different jurisdictions of the UK in a single trial.

Outcome 4: Cultural and social barriers to preventing and tackling child sexual exploitation are reduced

Action / Activity and Impact

44. Strengthen links with Equally Safe to ensure alignment with action to prevent and tackle child sexual exploitation.

Ongoing activity: The CSE Group members actively participated in the development of the Equally Safe strategy[98] and delivery plan[99] and work continues as part of Equally Safe's multi-agency group on commercial sexual exploitation.

Equally Safe Strategy and Delivery Plan: The National Action Plan to Prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation has been intrinsically linked with the aims of Equally Safe, Scotland's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls. The definition of violence against women and girls, adopted by the Scottish Government and included in Equally Safe encompasses, but is not limited to, child sexual abuse, including familial sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation and online abuse.[100]

The strategy and the delivery plan also recognise and acknowledge that it is important that links are made to the Child Protection Improvement Programme and we continue to ensure alignment between policy areas.

Equally Safe at School: The partnership project between Rape Crisis Scotland and Zero Tolerance, Equally Safe at School,[101] has completed its final year. The project supported schools to promote gender equality and prevent gender based violence through various measures including liaison with senior leadership, staff training, a staff-student action group and policy review. The University of Glasgow is undertaking an evaluation. Six schools took part in the pilot and Rape Crisis Scotland is now preparing for the next phase of development where they plan to undertake strategic work with key partners to join up efforts to support schools with handling gender based violence (GBV), and to prepare and launch Equally Safe at School materials for use across the country.

Equally Safe in Colleges and Universities: The Equally Safe in Colleges and Universities Working Group,[102] has taken forward a number of key actions over the reporting period. These have included:

  • the launch of the 'Equally Safe in Higher Education Tool Kit' in 2018[103] which, informed by a Gendered Analysis, underscores the importance of a Whole System approach to preventing and tackling Gender Based Violence
  • the launch of support cards for college and university staff (2018)
  • Gender Based Violence and mental health stickers for use in student accommodation and communal areas (2019)
  • following a series of regional events across Scotland in spring 2019, 'Key Messages for Preventing Gender Based Violence: A Resource for Scottish Colleges, Universities and their Partners'.[104]

This resource is also informed by the 'Healthy Relationships and Consent - Key Messages For Young People - A resource for professionals working with young people', published earlier in 2019 by the Scottish Government. In addition, Rape Crisis Scotland has developed an on-line resource for college and university students which will be launched later in 2020. The Working Group, informed by its Work Plan (2019/20) will continue to ensure, going forward, strong policy linkages with pre-school, primary and secondary schools to ensure consistency of messages for young people.


Contact

Email: Child_Protection@gov.scot