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5.9 Children and Young People who Display Inappropriate and Harmful Sexual Behaviour Policy and Procedure Proposal


This is a comprehensive chapter which deals with inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviour by children, drawing upon research and practice. Research has identified this behaviour has received poor attention and priority on a multi-agency basis and there has been a low reaction when there has been resistance by the young person and/or family. This is an area where all agencies working with children need to ensure there is a carefully and balanced response with regard to ‘experimentation’, ‘inappropriate’ and ‘harmful’ behaviours – and also acknowledges that this itself is sometimes difficult to judge.

The chapter references some useful assessment tools to use and assist in decision-making.


This policy has been developed by Pamela Foster, Operational Manager, Knowsley Youth Offending Service in partnership with Vicky Clements, Lead Education Officer, Jen Houghton, Team Manager, Knowsley Social Care, and Detective Inspector Paul Grounds, Vulnerable Person’s Unit.

The policy has been developed with reference to that already in place in Greater Manchester City. with support from Steve Bore, Children’s Service Manager, Barnardo’s Safer Futures


Child Sexual Exploitation - A Framework for Professionals Working with Children who Experience, or are at Risk of, Sexual Exploitation

Sexually Active Young People under the age of 18 in Knowsley Procedure

Multi-Agency Child Protection Standards

Early Help Assessment Framework in Knowsley Procedure


This chapter was reviewed and amended in May 2016 to reflect the role of Risk Management Panel (see Section 7, Risk Management Process) and to raise the age threshold to 12 yrs in terms of considering an appropriate and balanced response.

This chapter is currently under review.



1. Introduction and Key Principles
2. What is Harmful Sexual Behaviourr?
3. Denial
4. Practice Standards


5. Initial Procedure – Disclosure, Strategy and Single Assessment
6. Child Protection Case Conferences
7. Risk Management Process
8. Children Under 12 Years Old
9. Risk Management in Schools and the Wider Community
10. Home Safety Planning
11. Transition
12. Child Looked After – Consent and Confidentiality in Placement
13. Moving Out of Borough
14. Complaints Procedures
  Appendix A – Brook Traffic Light Tool
  Appendix B – Useful References for Supervision of Social Workers
  Appendix C - Report Template
  Appendix D - Home Safety Plan


1. Introduction and Key Principles


Children and young people can exhibit harmful sexual behaviour towards other children and adults. This document aims to clarify:

  • Definition of  harmful sexual behaviour;
  • Identification when sexual behaviour by children and young people should be considered harmful and when it can be considered in the context of normal behaviours;
  • A consistent response to sexually inappropriate and harmful behaviour;
  • The key factors in undertaking an assessment;
  • The risk management process;
  • Methods of working with children and young people who display harmful sexual or inappropriate sexual behaviours;
  • The training and Supervision required when dealing with harmful sexual behaviours.

Working Together 2010 (archived) stated that in relation to children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour that:

  • There should be a co-ordinated approach on the part of youth justice, children’s social care, education (including educational psychology), health (including Child and Adolescent Mental Health agencies) and police;
  • Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) and Youth Offending Services should ensure that there is a clear operational procedure within which assessment, decision making, and case management should take place. Neither child welfare nor criminal justice agencies should embark on a course of action that has implications for the other without appropriate consultation.

Furthermore Working Together 2013 (archived) states that:

“Research has shown that taking a systematic approach to enquiries using a conceptual model is the best way to deliver a comprehensive assessment for children.”

The Criminal Justice Joint Inspection “Examining Multi-Agency Responses to Children and Young People who Sexually Offend” (February 2013) highlighted that:

  • Cases were slow to get to Court, and took an average eight months between disclosure and sentence, resulting in lengthy periods when little or no work was done with the young person;
  • Neither potential risk of harm to others nor their safeguarding needs were sufficiently assessed or managed as little consideration was given to where these children and young people ‘fitted’ into Children’s Social Care Services, or why they had committed the offence, especially when the harmful sexual behaviour was denied;
  • Lack of persistence to engage parents/carers when they failed to co-operate;
  • Much work was characterised by poor communication between the relevant agencies, with inadequate assessment and joint planning;
  • Many young people had complex and multiple needs and positive examples of holistic interventions to address these delivered by a range of agencies were rare;
  • Once these children had been picked up by the justice system, their chances for rehabilitation improved from child focused YOT practice;
  • Assessments generally lacked analysis of the underlying reasons and workers were unclear how to approach risk assessment or management where offences were being denied;
  • Lack of confidence to address harmful sexual behaviour or understanding of risk factors linked to insufficient training received by social workers;
  • Standards of management oversight and supervision varied considerably, with insufficient challenge to the quality and appropriateness of interventions; and
  • Despite some successful outcomes, there was little evidence of routine evaluation at a strategic level of the quality and effectiveness of multi-agency work.

Further support for early recognition and intervention came from Chief Inspector of Probation, Liz Calderbank, who reported on behalf of all inspectorates:

“The behaviour of this small but significant group of children and young people can be extremely damaging, often involving other children as victims. Yet the evidence from our inspection is that these children and young people do respond to intervention from youth offending teams and can be prevented from re-offending before developing entrenched patterns of behaviour”.

“We were therefore very concerned to find that a sizeable number of cases had been referred on previous occasions to Children’s Social Care services but the significance of their sexual behaviour was either not recognised or dismissed, representing a lost opportunity both for the children and young people and their potential victims.”


The Criminal Justice Joint Inspection contains a number of recommendations for local authorities, some of which include:

  • All agencies should from disclosure to the end of sentence, actively contribute to timely information sharing and assessment to both inform decision making and where appropriate, deliver interventions so that further incidents of sexual harmful behaviour can be prevented at the earliest possible stage;
  • Local Safeguarding Boards should ensure that in the Early Help Strategy the needs of children and young people who display, or are likely to develop harmful sexual behaviour are identified and recognised, and that they are provided with help and intervention at the earliest possible opportunity; and
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of the multi-agency response to such children and young people in their area, particularly including the identification of such cases, joint assessments and the interventions to them and their families and, where appropriate, their victims. 

Key Principles to guide the work with children and young people who exhibit harmful sexual behaviour:

  • Work with children and young people who abuse others must recognise that such children are likely to have considerable needs themselves, and should be treated as children in need of help or protection and that they also pose a risk of harm to other children and young people;
  • The needs of children and young people who abuse others should be considered separately from their victims;
  • Young people who harm others sexually have a right to be consulted and involved in all matters and decisions that affect their lives. Their parents have a right to information, respect and participation in matters that affect their family;
  • Considerable diversity exists among children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviours. This diversity applies to their backgrounds and experiences, the motivations and the meaning of their behaviours;
  • A number of factors indicate higher risk and for this reason a multi-agency assessment should be carried out in each case, appreciating these children may have considerable unmet needs, as well as specific needs arising from their behaviour;
  • Cognitive behavioural interventions, relapse prevention work and involvement of significant others such as parents/carers are effective alongside increasing resilience factors and reducing negative factors in a young person’s life. (See also Knowsley Resilience and Vulnerability Tool Procedure).

Research evidences (Hackett 2001) that young people who commit sexual offences are not a homogenous group and this form of behaviour indicates a level of complexity from an emotional, cognitive and behavioural perspective. There is no one single factor or experience which leads to the development of harmful sexual behaviour in a young person. Indeed it is common for a combination of factors which contributes to the development of the behaviour for example:

  • Personal abuse history;
  • Attachment difficulties/deficits;
  • Family dynamics including being given too much responsibility;
  • Deficits in social skills and low self esteem;
  • Lack of sexual knowledge;
  • Socialisation difficulties.
1.9 Evidence suggests that children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour towards others may have suffered considerable disruption in their lives, been exposed to violence within the family, may have witnessed or been subjected to abuse, have problems with their educational and/or social development and may have committed other offences. Often the demonstration of harmful sexual behaviours is a means of communicating there is some form of unmet needs and/or distress. Such young people are likely to be children in need and some in addition will be suffering or be at risk of Significant Harm and may themselves be in need of protection. Children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour are often emotionally immature and cannot be treated the same way as adults. Young people are still developing their sexual feelings and understanding. Early intervention can assist this development and channel it in a positive way.
1.10 There has been a broad shift in focus within research, as it has become increasingly clear that confrontational and punitive methods which were traditionally used in treating adult sex offenders have been rejected in the adolescent field. In their place has emerged a strong call for the notion of child-focused and holistic interventions, treating the whole child, not solely the issues specific to the offending behaviour. Children who display harmful sexual behaviours are first and foremost children and should not be regarded as mini sex offenders (Hackett et al, 2003).
1.11 Research in Practice “Research Review: Children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours” (2014). Written by international expert Professor Simon Hackett, the Review provides leaders in safeguarding and child protection with essential evidence for developing strategy and services in this challenging area. Professor Hackett said: “Knowledge has developed steadily about children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours over the last two decades. It’s now time to take stock of what’s been learnt. It’s a complex problem that carries with it immense stigma for children and their families. We need a balanced approach to this issue that recognises both the risks and needs of children presenting with harmful sexual behaviours.”

2. What is Harmful Sexual Behaviour?


Harmful sexual behaviour is any behaviour of a sexual nature that takes place when:

  • There is no informed consent by the victim; and/or
  • The young person has allegedly displayed a harmful sexual behavioural threat (verbal, physical or emotional) to coerce, threaten or intimidate the victim.
2.2 To give consent to sex or a sexual act, a person must be 16 years old or over, understand, and be able to make a choice or change their mind. If a young person is under the age of 13 years, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 they cannot legally consent to any form of sexual activity. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 reinforces that, whilst mutually agreed, non-exploitative sexual activity between teenagers does take place and that often no harm comes from it, the age of consent should still remain at 16. This acknowledges that this group is still vulnerable, even when they do not view themselves as such. An assessment should be completed which should take into consideration the young person’s competency to give consent, and the nature of the relationship. Consideration must be given to age, maturity, developmental stages, functioning and experience and also the awareness of the potential consequences of their act.
2.3 In respect of sexual behaviours, there are sometimes difficulties in distinguishing between normal childhood sexual development and experimentation, and sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour. The indicators below should be used as a guide only. Sometimes expert professional judgement may be needed within the context of knowledge of harmful sexual behaviours and normal child sexual development. It is also important to not over-react to the presenting behaviour as this can have long term consequences for the child (i.e. becoming ashamed about their sexuality or closing down opportunities for them to develop).

A Continuum of Sexual Behaviours from Healthy to Harmful

2.4 Like all forms of human development, sexual development begins at birth. It includes not only the physical changes that occur as children grow, but also the sexual knowledge and beliefs they come to learn and the behaviours they show. There are a range of healthy sexual behaviours at each stage of a child’s development. However, not all sexual behaviours displayed by children or young people are healthy; some are harmful and some fall within a mid-range (inappropriate) which are not the most concerning but can cause an issue or develop into harmful behaviours. The term inappropriate is used to indicate that the behaviour is problematic. A guide to determining healthy to harmful behaviours within developmental age ranges is Brook Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool ( (See Appendix A – Brook Traffic Light Tool). This tool offers an innovative resource to help professionals who work with children and young people to identify, assess and respond appropriately to sexual behaviours.

A guide overview reference to the continuum of sexual behaviours is:

Healthy sexual behaviours Inappropriate sexual behaviours Harmful sexual behaviours



Exploratory and age appropriate;

No intent to cause harm;

Fun, humorous;

No power differential between participants;

Developmentally expected.

Displaying behaviours not age appropriate - e.g. invasion of personal space, sexual swear words in very young children;

Some ‘one off’ incidents of low-key behaviours such as touching over clothing;

Incidents where there is peer pressure to engage in the behaviour e.g. touching someone’s breast, exposure of bottom;

Behaviours are spontaneous rather than planned;

There are other balancing factors such as lack of intent to cause harm, or level of understanding in the young person about the behaviours, or some remorse;

Verbal, physical, or cyber/virtual sexual bullying involving aggression;

Accessing exploitative or violent pornography;

Parental concern and interested in supporting the child to change;

Consent issues may be unclear.

Not age appropriate;

Elements of planning secrecy or force;

Elements of impulsivity;

Sexual activity with family members;

Preoccupation with sex, which interferes with daily function;

Power differentials between young people involved such as size status and strength;

Sexual degradation/humiliation of self or others;

Targeted children feel fear, anxiety, discomfort;

Negative feelings are expressed by the young person when carrying out the behaviour e.g. aggression;

The young person does not take responsibility for the behaviour and blames others or feels a strong sense of grievance;

Incidents are increasing in frequency and the young person’s interest in them is disproportionate to other aspects of their life;

Exposing genitals or masturbating in public;

Genital injury to self or others;

Sexual contact with animals; and

The viewing, ownership, making or distribution of indecent images of children.

2.6  Alongside harmful sexual/inappropriate behaviours there are often more complex behaviours evident such as conduct disorder, problems with anger management, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, clingy, aggression, disruption, poor peer relationships. Abuse, trauma, poor attachments with parents and siblings, little empathy, disrupted patterns of care and loss of a significant person and lack of role models are often features within harmful sexual behaviours. Specialist harmful sexual research and assessment tools will also highlight particular features within harmful sexual behaviours that will increase risk factors (e.g. behaviour committed in a public place, stalking, recent mood swings).

3. Denial


Children and young people who deny an allegation of harmful sexual behaviour do so for a multitude of reasons, some of which are:

  • They are innocent;
  • It is a normal response to a challenge, specifically if it relates to something that is wrong and socially unacceptable so it is used as a coping mechanism as they fear the reaction of others; or
  • They are being advised by a solicitor to not discuss the allegation or to minimise their involvement due to lack of evidence within police interviews or court proceedings.
3.2 Clinicians had previously noted the existence of denial as a risk factor and often professionals deemed the young person’s risk to be higher because denial is present. However, research has found that denial and minimisation have no relationship with sexual recidivism (Worling 2002 quoted by Hackett 2004). Children and young people who deny their involvement in sexual offences even following conviction use denial as a coping mechanism. Denial or other types of coping mechanisms such as justification, minimising, or blaming others etc. is used as a means to protect themselves. These are normal responses especially in children when they have done something wrong. Given the serious nature of the behaviour it is completely understandable that these coping mechanisms will be present.

4. Practice Standards

4.1 It is integral that children and young people who display sexual harmful behaviours are assessed by qualified social workers. Children Social Workers and YOS Social Workers/Probation Officers who complete specialist harmful sexual  assessments need to be highly skilled in completing assessments as well as trained in completing specialised sexual harmful assessments. They require a broad knowledge base of what works with children and young person who display  harmful sexual behaviours, including an increased understanding on attachment, trauma, and the effects of child abuse on development. Suggested training for social workers (Appendix B – Useful References for Supervision of Social Workers).
4.2 It is also essential those line managers who will supervise the social workers completing such assessments and interventions, and the Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO) who chair Risk Management Meetings are adequately trained; this to also include members of the risk management panel. Their training should include all training social workers have received and in addition training in relation to managing and supervising staff working with people who sexually harm. For suggested training and further reading for supervision see Appendix B – Useful References for Supervision of Social Workers.
4.3 There are other training courses available in relation to harmful sexual behaviours for residential, foster care and educational settings. These need to be considered if the child or young person is within that particular setting. Police, education and family prevention services should also receive training appropriate to their learning needs and this procedure.
4.4 Social Workers completing assessments and intervention will require ongoing support in addition to their supervision. A regular professional development workshop where cases can be discussed and ideas for intervention are shared is integral to effective assessments and interventions. These workshops should include more experienced social workers and consultations with specialist sexual harmful agencies. Additional benefits from this workshop will be that key learning points on assessment and interventions will also benefit other types of work in their own agencies.
4.5 A strengths model and a focus on resilience in work with young people and their families are required within all assessments and interventions. Research highlights that assessments and interventions need to focus not just on young person’s problematic behaviours or deficits, but also on developing their strengths and developmental competencies (Gilgun et al, 1999 quoted by Hackett 2004). The aim of resilience based approaches to practice would be to develop the young person and families strengths and this will naturally lower risk factors. This clearly can be achieved even whilst the young person may be on police bail and the offence cannot be discussed; building upon skills, self esteem, and goal setting abilities.


5. Initial Procedure – Disclosure, Strategy and Single Assessment

Click here to view the Flowchart of Procedures for Young People displaying sexual behaviour.



5.1 Any child, young person or adult who discloses that he/she has been the victim of inappropriate/harmful sexual behaviour by a child or young person under 18 must trigger a full investigation in line with Knowsley Local Safeguarding procedures. If either the victim or the young person who has allegedly displayed inappropriate or harmful sexual behaviour is an out of Borough child or young person then Knowsley Social Care will inform the relevant local authority. Where the victim is either at the current time or time of the offence an adult, the police will lead the investigation. If deemed reasonable and proportionate, Police can consider putting as a condition of Police Bail for the young person to engage with Health and Social Care. If the victim and the young person who has allegedly displayed inappropriate or harmful sexual behaviour are under the age of 18 the following must take place:


5.2 A Strategy Discussion involving the police, schools, health, YOS and any other professional involved with either child or young person must take place within 24 hours of disclosure. The aim of the Strategy Discussion is to agree how and who will interview both the victim and young person who has allegedly displayed sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviour and how the investigation will be managed, and what immediate steps need to be taken to protect both the victim and any other young children or young people the young person who has allegedly displayed such behaviour may have contact with. The strategy meeting will decide whether the child is at risk of significant harm and if so then a Section 47 investigation should take place.  If the child is not deemed at risk of significant harm then the case should progress to a single assessment.
5.3 Social Care to complete a Single Assessment of the young person who has allegedly displayed inappropriate or harmful sexual behaviour and the victim. Ideally the Single Assessment of each child should be completed by different social workers.

6. Child Protection Case Conferences

(See also Multi-Agency Child Protection Standards Procedure)

6.1 Where the victim and child or young person who has allegedly displayed inappropriate or harmful sexual behaviour are members of the same family an Initial Case Conference needs to be held within 15 days of the initial or most recent Strategy Discussion if assessed the victim is at risk. This conference is to focus on the protection of the victim. Any other children in the family must also be the subject of a section 47 investigation and their needs considered within the Case Conference.
6.2 In the event the child is under age 12 or the Single Assessment identifies that the young person who has displayed inappropriate or harmful sexual behaviour is considered to be at risk of Significant Harm then his/her needs should also be identified and considered as part of the Child Protection Conference process.

7. Risk Management Process


Where the young person is over the age of 12 and there is no identified significant risk of harm towards the young person who has displayed inappropriate or harmful sexual behaviour there is no reason to hold a Child Protection Conference. If the Single Assessment concludes that a multi-agency approach is required then a decision can be made for a Child in Need or Early Help plan. If the Single Assessment concludes that further specialist assessments and a risk management approach is required then the social worker will have a discussion with their manager regarding whether to ask for a risk management panel. This must be arranged via the Quality Assurance Unit. As the Manager of the QAU will be Charing the panel.


Risk Management Panel

7.2 Representatives from CSC, YOS and Health will sit on the panel.  The panel will sit as and when required. The panel will be chaired by the Manager of the Quality Assurance Unit.  The role of the panel is to decide whether to proceed via RMM route and whether a specialist assessment is required or proceed down a child in need route. If the panel decide a RMM is needed this is to be held within 15 working days.

Risk Management Meeting (RMM)

7.3 A RMM mirrors the Child Protection Case Conference process and focuses on the management of risk and vulnerabilities and any other identified needs of the child or young person who has allegedly displayed  harmful sexual behaviours. Issues for consideration are the risks he/she poses within their family, school and wider community.

The RMM will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer from the Quality Assurance Unit. The people who need to be invited are:

  • The child or young person and his/her parent and/or carer;
  • The Police;
  • School / College;
  • Health;
  • Youth Offending Service;
  • Any other service; such as Stronger Families, Youth Service, CAMHS, if involved.
7.5 The social worker will provide a report for the meeting that summarises the nature of the disclosure, the Strategy Discussion, and the progress of the Single Assessment to date and the current risk management plan. The Police will provide information relating to the progress of the investigation to date and any current bail conditions. All agencies will contribute to the risk assessment by providing relevant information.
7.6 The RMM will share information and draw up a final risk management plan and ensure that all members of the meeting are aware of their responsibilities. A decision will also be made at the meeting regarding the appropriateness of an AIM 2 assessment or equivalent.

AIM 2 and other specialist assessments

7.7 The AIM 2 is an actuarial assessment tool that is used to assess young people who commit sexual offences and indicates what level of risk management/supervision will be required. This tool also highlights what are the individual concerns and strengths across four domains; these include harmful sexual and non-sexual  behaviour, developmental characteristics, family and environmental. In cases where the child or young person presents with learning difficulties then other specialist assessment tools need to be explored. The assessment workers from Social Care (lead agency) and YOS will need to be identified at the RMM to ensure work is completed promptly.
7.8 In cases where the police are continuing to investigate the complaint it would not be appropriate to discuss the current allegation until this investigation and any subsequent criminal proceedings have been completed. In these particular circumstances consideration needs to be given to the complexity of the case and whether further assessment is required to explore parenting capacity/needs, developmental, family and environmental factors whilst the investigation is ongoing. An intervention plan for the whole family including a ‘keep safe plan’ needs to be agreed based upon current assessment information at the RMM. A keep safe plan is a plan completed with the young person and parents on how they plan to keep themselves safe from any further allegations of  harmful sexual behaviour until work is completed. It is important to include parents/carers goals as part of the intervention plan based upon assessed needs to ensure a ‘Think Family’ approach and uphold their responsibilities towards risk management.
7.9 Further assessments that are useful at this stage would be a full health screening and speech and language assessment. A high percentage of children and young people who display inappropriate or harmful sexual behaviours have some form of learning needs which may be one of the underlying reasons for their behaviours. If Special Educational Needs (SEN) have already been identified it is imperative that this information is used to analyse information within assessments.

Risk Level

7.10 Knowsley’s Risk Assessment Guidance (see the Knowsley Children's Social Care Operational Procedures Manual) provides clear risk assessment principles which explores the analysis required between Risk, Vulnerability and Protective Factors and offers the following definitions of risk levels which have been slightly altered to reflect inappropriate/harmful sexual behaviours:

Click here to view the Risk Level table.


Subsequent RMMs and Timescales

7.12 The first review of the RMM must take place no later than 12 weeks after the initial meeting.
7.13 If the allegation is No Further Action (NFA) by the police due to insufficient evidence to charge, however, there are concerns in relation to the alleged behaviours then parents and the young person should be encourage to engage in the Risk Management process. An AIM 2 or equivalent assessments will be completed and assessment workers will present a report (See Appendix C - Report Template) which should include findings and recommendations to this meeting. The meeting will consider whether any alterations are needed to the risk management plan and whether any further assessments are required. In the event of an AIM 2 or equivalent assessment identifying further work then an intervention plan for the whole family needs to be agreed and workers should be identified at the RMM to ensure work is completed promptly. In more complex cases a referral needs to be made to internal or external specialist providers.
7.14 Encouraging engagement within a voluntary programme of work requires the social worker to possess high motivational skills. The young person and parents/carers should be made aware of the positives of engaging in an assessment and intervention as the aim is to keep their young person safe from any further allegations. The benefits of the Risk Management process should be explained thoroughly as being as an opportunity to access agencies required, address any concerns, and encourage strengths within the family and/or to educate their child to prevent any further allegations.
7.15 If parents or young people are refusing to engage with professionals, then their reasons need to be explored and a decision needs to be made at a RMM on whether the case is closed or child protection procedures are required.
7.16 In the event that the police investigation is still ongoing then the RMM will review the agreed family intervention plan including the ‘keep safe plan’ and make any additional amendments, if required. Social Care will remain the lead agency whilst the young person is on police or court bail. If the young person is made subject to Bail Supervision or Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Bail conditions then YOS will report into the RMM.
7.17 In the event of a further RMM being needed to identify the progress of the work this should be held no later than 12 weeks after the previous meeting. If subsequent review meetings are required following the fourth review RMM then they must take place as a minimum every 6 months, until there is evidence the risk has reduced. 
7.18 The RMM meeting process can be ceased when there is evidence that work has been completed, a reduction in the risk of harmful sexual behaviour is evident and an understanding by all agencies of their role in ensuring that the child or young person remains at a low risk of repeating the behaviour. There must be a clear exit strategy in place for ongoing support.
7.19 In the event of a disagreement about whether the RMM process should cease the chair will make the final decision.

Young Person who is convicted of a Sexual Offence

7.20 In the event that the young person is found guilty or pleads guilty to a sexual offence then a six week court adjournment needs to be requested to enable a specialist harmful sexual assessment to be completed. For young people subject to a Remand to Youth Detention Accommodation consideration will need to be given to the completion of the assessment. Ideally this should be completed before sentence; however, the location of the secure establishment could make this problematic.
7.21 In the event of a guilty plea where the young person is highly likely to receive a custodial sentence then an urgent professionals meeting should be convened to discuss whether a custodial facility or other community provision would be best to meet the young person’s risk levels and needs. If it is decided that risk can be managed within the community, however, a therapeutic placement will be required then there needs to be a clear definition of the roles of the agencies involved and a clear shared understanding of the type of placement required. Timescales for these enquires and the final decision will have been dictated by the Court as the date when the Pre-Sentence Report needs to be lodged.
7.22 Once the young person has been sentenced then an RMM must take place within 15 working days of sentence. The YOS worker will provide a report for the meeting that summaries the findings from the ASSET and Risk of Serious Harm (ROSH) assessment and the current Risk Management Plan.
7.23 In the event that an AIM2 or equivalent assessment has not already been completed for sentence then assessment workers from YOS and Social Care will need to be identified. If an AIM2 or equivalent assessment has been completed then the RMM should look at the findings and recommendations of those assessments and an intervention plan for the whole family including a “keep safe” plan needs to be agreed.
7.24 The first review of the RMM must take place no later than 12 weeks after the first RMM following sentence. Each review meeting will consider whether any alterations are needed to the risk management plan.
7.25 Subsequent review meetings and timescales previously outlined in this section will then apply.
7.26 If the young person were to receive a custodial sentence then, depending upon the type and location of the secure establishment the young person is placed in, it may not be possible to complete assessments or interventions. If no intervention has been completed during sentence then this should be included in pre-release plans and incorporated, where appropriate, into the young person’s notice of supervision/licence conditions. An RMM must take place within 15 working days of release. The YOS worker will provide a report for the meeting that summarises the finding from any Specialist Assessment, ASSET and Risk of Serious Harm (ROSH) assessment and the current Risk Management Plan.

8. Children Under 12 Years Old

8.1 A child under 10 years of age cannot be investigated by the police as they are under the age of criminal responsibility. This means that the responsibility for the investigation lies with Children Services. A Strategy Discussion should take place and a Section 47 investigation should be undertaken. A Single Assessment should then take place and consider factors of age, understanding and whether any force or intimidation was used. A child displaying  harmful sexual behaviour is clearly indicating an unmet need or a level of distress which needs careful consideration as to the background to the behaviour and consideration of family history and dynamics and environmental factors when completing the Single Assessment.
8.2 Consideration at these meetings should be whether an AIM for children 12 years and over should be completed as part of CIN or CP processes.

9. Risk Management in Schools and the Wider Community

9.1 Any child with harmful sexual behaviour continues to be entitled to an education. The need to ensure that the young people within the school community are protected and the child or young person is protected from any bullying as a result of the behaviour provides serious challenges. The Lead Educational Officer will provide support and guidance to schools to help them formulate plans to ensure the safety of all concerned. The RMM will also assist with formulating a school risk management plan. 
9.2 Supervision in the community is a more complex issue and the responsibility falls on the parents and/or care givers to ensure that the young person is not placed in a situation where they are at risk of further inappropriate/harmful behaviour. If the young person is going to attend a youth club or other social activity then this needs to be discussed with the social worker and this needs to be incorporated in the risk assessment and ‘keep safe’ plan.
9.3 If the wider community are aware of the sexual behaviour then this could result in retaliation. The family and young person may need support to manage this risk and may need support from housing to aid a house move. At the earliest opportunity the family need to be spoken to about who they discuss the behaviour with to ensure that the risk of the wider community retaliating is reduced.

10. Home Safety Planning


It is possible that a decision will need to be made to remove a young person from the family home as a protective measure for siblings. If a decision is made that the young person can remain at home, a Home Safety Plan should be undertaken by the professionals involved to provide some rules and guidelines about what is permissible. It should also be completed in any other setting where a young person is placed – whether that is in a residential setting or a foster placement or with other family members.

It should include as a minimum:

  • A realistic level of supervision that must be provided;
  • The living environment is free from confusing sexual behaviour and information i.e. DVDs magazines, language, behaviour;
  • Sleeping arrangements need to be considered including making arrangements with extended family members;
  • Clear rules on nudity/privacy;
  • State of dress around the house;
  • Limitations on play fighting.
10.2 Further details about Home Safety planning (See Appendix D - Home Safety Plan) have been taken from guidance from Safer Futures Barnardo’s Specialist Home Safety Guidance.

11. Transition

11.1 When young people move to college prior to their 18th birthday then the college concerned needs to be invited to the RMM. This is because it is the college’s responsibility to ensure the safety of other young people who attend the college.
11.2 If the young person applies to college and is no longer subject to RMM the application form will ask about criminal convictions. At this point sufficient information must be provided to the college concerned to ensure that they are able to complete a risk assessment and ensure that appropriate safeguards are put in place.

12. Child Looked After - Consent and Confidentiality in Placement

12.1 Where a Child Looked After has been involved in an investigation into harmful sexual behaviour, all children in placement must be interviewed (this includes the foster carers own children). All carers must be made aware of the concerns and be fully involved in any assessment, risk management plan and subsequent RMM process.
12.2 The Strategy Discussion must consider the risk of the young person remaining in his/her current placement. Any new carer must be informed of the disclosure and the risk management plan.
12.3 Social Workers must consult with their managers regarding informing parents of any disclosure in a foster care or residential setting where their child has not been the victim.
12.4 If a child looked after is subject to RMM and CLA Reviews, these meetings need to be kept separate due to their different functions. It is best practice to maintain the same Independent Reviewing Officer as the chair at both meetings to ensure consistency. The risk management part could take place following a CLA Review as this will then inform supervision levels required within and outside the home.

13. Moving Out of Borough

13.1 At any stage a child or young person moves out of the Borough and is not deemed a Child Looked After, the Social Worker must complete a referral and a full hand over of the case to the relevant Local Authority. 

14. Complaints Procedure

14.1 If a complaint is made against a specific worker then the agency complaints procedure should be followed. If a complaint is made regarding the Risk Management Process, the Safeguarding Boards complaints procedures should be applied (See Complaints and Resolutions Procedure).


  • AIM U12’s Assessment and Intervention Manual;
  • Revised AIM2 (2012) Assessment Manual;
  • Brook Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool,;
  • Gilgun et al, 1999 quoted by Hackett, S. 2004 ‘What works for children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours?’ Andrew Haig & Associates;
  • Hackett, Simon (2001) Facing the Future;
  • Hackett, Simon (2004) ‘What works for children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours?’ Andrew Haig & Associates;
  • Knowsley Resilience and Vulnerability Tool;
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003;
  • The Joint Inspection by HMI Probation, Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, Care Quality Commission, Estyn, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, HMI Constabulary, HMI Prisons and Ofsted, February 2013;
  • The Munro Review of Child Protection Interim Report: The Child’s Journey also includes the ACPO statement of Risk Principles;
  • Worling, 2002, quoted in Hackett, S. 2004 ‘What works for children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours?’ Andrew Haig & Associates;
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children (DfES 2010);
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children (DfES 2015);
  • Youth Justice Board Risk of Serious Harm Guidance.

Appendix A – Brook Traffic Light Tool

Click here to view Appendix A – Brook Traffic Light Tool.

Appendix B – Useful References for Supervision of Social Workers

Suggested training for all social workers who will be required to complete assessments and interventions are:

  • Barnardos Safer Futures – Understanding Harmful Sexual Behaviours (HSB);
  • Lucy Faithful courses on SHB;
  • AIM - Working with Families of Young People Who Display SHB AIM2 - Initial Assessment for Adolescents Who Display SHB;
  • AIM - Interventions with adolescents who display SHB;
  • Other courses available in relation to: Good Lives Model, Resilience and strengths based approaches, understanding Trauma, Attachment, and effects of child abuse. Training will also be required on motivational interviewing to enable a social worker to engage young people and their families on a voluntary basis if required.

Suggested additional training for all line managers and IRO:

  • AIM - Managing and Supervising Staff working with people who sexually harm.

Useful References for Supervision of Social Workers:

Tony Morrison, Staff Supervision in Social Care, 2003, Pavillion.

Kolb, DA (1984) Experimental Learning. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Children’s Workforce Development Council (2007) Providing Effective Supervision: A workforce development tool, including a unit of competence and supporting guidance. Available on the National Archives website.

Munro, Eileen (1999) Common Errors of Reasoning in Child Protection Work Child Abuse & Neglect 23 (8) p.745-758 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Bradon et al (2008) Analysing chid deaths and serious injury through abuse and neglect: what we can learn? A biennial analysis of serious case reviews 2003-2005, DCSF

Reder, P & Duncorn, S (2003) Understanding Communication in child Protection Networks. Child Abuse Review Vol. 12:82-100.

Munro, E (2002) Effective Child Protection. Sage Publications.

Turney, D. (2010) Analysis and Critical Thinking in Assessment. Research in Practice. Dartington, 2010.

Dazell, R. & Sawyer, E (2009) Putting Analysis into Assessment: Undertaking Assessment of Need. NCB

Appendix C – Report Template

Click here to view Appendix C - Report Template.

Appendix D - Home Safety Plan

Click here to view Appendix D - Home Safety Plan.