|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Blatch: Can the noble Lord say how that provision dovetails in with the Scottish jurisdiction? I have in mind an offence actually committed in Scotlandperhaps even by a Scot, who is resident in Scotlandagainst a child who happens to be on summer camp or taking part in a Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, or whatever, but who is in fact resident in England. Can the noble Lord say how that squares with Scottish jurisdiction? My understanding is that it is a reserved matter for Scotland.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The noble Baroness asks a good question. The best course for me would be to write to the noble Baroness on the subject.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: The noble Baroness has made a very good point. If the position of trust arises in Scotland as regards a person who lives in Scotland and he is in that position only because he is running a summer camp, I do not see how England and Wales would have jurisdiction.
Baroness Blatch: I am most grateful to the Minister for his response. He quite honestly said that he did not have the answer, but that he would write to me on the matter. With no malign intent whatever, I ask that this clause should not stand part of the Bill until the next stage of the proceedings. At that point we shall all be satisfied with the technical answer as to why this would work under such jurisdiction. There is a sufficient question mark over how it would work. Therefore, I believe that the clause should not stand part of the Bill at this stage.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I am not sure that there is that big a question mark over the status of this part of the legislation. I ask the noble Baroness, and the noble Lord who echoed her concerns, to accept that we shall write to clarify the point. When I moved amendments earlier this evening similar provisions were made. Therefore, I believe we probably are on good ground: it is simply a technical matter.
Baroness Blatch: I am sorry. It may be a technical matter, but it is also possible that the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, is right in saying that this
Baroness Noakes: I support my noble friend in her argument. As the Minister is unable to provide an answer to a clear question, it would not be proper to pursue the amendment until that aspect is clarified. If it is a simple, technical matter, the amendment can be dealt with straightforwardly on Report.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: We have had a very good natured and tolerant discussion this evening. It is probably a very simple matter. No harm will arise from leaving the situation as it is. I am sure that we can satisfy all Members of the Committee in the course of correspondence. Indeed, that is probably the best way to leave the matter at this stage.
Baroness Blatch: Does that mean that the noble Lord wishes the amendment to stand part of the Bill? If that is so, I shall object. The noble Lord is goading us into voting on the matter. It should not stand part of the Bill. The noble Lord has nothing to fear. It is the convention of this House that, once a clause is deemed part of the Bill by the whole House, we do not put it back in or take it out again as it is deemed to have been determined.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Perhaps it may help that I now have an answer to the question, or at least part of the answer. My understanding is that the new clause gives extra territorial jurisdiction to England and Wales courts. If the acts undertaken also constitute offences in Scotland, Scottish courts would also have jurisdiction. I think that that clarifies the point. In those terms, I beg to move.
Baroness Blatch: I am sorry, but the noble Lord argued that the rationale for including this clause in the Bill was to prevent a gap, with the Scottish Parliament introducing the law into their own land. Therefore, it will not have jurisdiction because there is a gap, which the noble Lord admitted. This is merely a stop-gap. If the noble Lord insists on his amendment, I shall oppose it.
It seems perfectly reasonable and civiland the Minister has nothing to lose by doing thisto leave this matter to the next stage of the Bill so that we can all be assured that the technical explanation that he is not giving at this moment is acceptable. If the noble Lord is as confident as he appears, it will be almost on-the-nod acceptance at the next stage.
Lord Hylton: It is not a question of losing the whole clause; it is simply a matter of the Government withdrawing their amendment.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: We are confident of our position. If the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, wants to
Baroness Blatch: The noble Lord has no answer to our question. The answer that he read out made no sense whatever. He said that the matter could be dealt with by Scottish jurisdiction. In the mean time, we have been told that the whole point of this amendment is to cover a lacuna between the period of this Bill going on to the statute book and Scottish law coming into effect when they could deal with this in Scotland. I do not think that this amendment should be accepted.
On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 150) shall be agreed to?
Their Lordships divided: Contents, 33; Not-Contents, 10.
Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.
Clause 23 [Positions of trust]:
Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 151:
The noble Baroness said: I rise to speak to Amendment No. 151, which is grouped with Amendments Nos. 157, 158, 159, 160 and 162, as well as Amendment No. 161 tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester.
In considering why the abuse of trust provisions should cover youth groups, I believe that it would be helpful to recount how it was that the Government first came to introduce them. The amendments seek to bring consistency to the clauses covering abuse of trust.
I turn first to the Utting report which looked into the safeguards relating to children living away from home. In 1997 Sir William Utting concluded that child abusers were,
The 2000 Act which followed the Waterhouse inquiry introduced abuse of trust legislation to cover all these positions; that is, social workers in children's homes, nurses who look after children, and probation officers. But as far as Cooke was concerned, what was significant was that the Waterhouse inquiry found that most of his proved abuse took place under circumstances where children were not in care. It took place through friendships developed in youth groups. Cooke abused children first by using his position as a youth group leader and then as an instructor in the Army cadets. Those are two positions not covered by the existing law or by the Bill.
Some of the worst abuse uncovered by the inquiry was perpetrated on boy B, whose life was wrecked by abuse which took place through meeting Cooke in two youth groups. A paragraph in the report draws the case to the attention of Parliament. In his evidence to the inquiry, B argued that Cooke,
It was because of cases like this that I and my late noble friend Lady Young sought to move amendments to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill which would have brought youth group leaders into the category of holding a position of trust.
As I said at Second Reading, I am disappointed that provision has not been made in the Bill to protect young people in youth groups such as the scouts and guides. Three years ago, the Lord Privy Seal, when Attorney-General, was sympathetic to extending abuse of trust provisions to youth group leaders, but the Home Secretary has failed to act. I wonder why. What is the argument for not using his order-making powers?
Amendment No. 157 defines the new position of trust as youth worker A in a specialist organisation who looks after B who attends the group. I accept that community groups which include a mix of adults and young people would not be covered by the amendment as they do not offer a specialist service for young people. The leader of a local ramblers' group would not be covered, but a scout group leader would be.
No doubt the resources of the Home Office could come up with a better amendment. In order to encourage this, my Amendment No. 162 adopts an alternative approach, leaving it to the Home Secretary to define positions of trust held by youth and community workers and to use his order-making powers under Clause 23(1)(b). It would give the Home Secretary six months in which to act after the Bill's commencement.
Amendment No. 161, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, brings registered sports coaches within the abuse of trust provisions. The Government are very keen on encouraging young people to become involved in sport, and various coaching schemes are available. If more and more children are to be involved in such schemes, it is right that an attempt is made to extend the protection of the clause to them. I welcome the amendment for that reason. The noble Lord will know that there is some very impressive work going on with football clubs linking up with schools and working with not just vulnerable children but all children.
Three years ago, I moved two amendments to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, which I am delighted to find now form part of subsections (6) and (7) of Clause 23. My amendments, now accepted by the Government, extended the abuse of trust provisions to learning mentors, otherwise known as Connexions personal advisers and personal advisers for children leaving council care. I welcome the Government's change of heart. The reason they have acted is because they now accept that Connexions personal advisers and advisers for children leaving care are situations in which the relationship of trust is particularly strong. Because of this, there is a potential vulnerability to exploitation.
I argue that this same strong relationship of trust is also true of supervisors appointed under the Children Act 1989 who have a legal duty placed on them to befriend children. When parents are in dereliction of particular duties, the court can make a supervision order under Section 35 of the Children Act. Supervisors appointed under the order may help ensure that medical care is obtained or help to provide access to friends or a non-resident parent.
A supervisor has a specific duty under Section 35(1)(a) of the 1989 Act,
Supervisors can be social workers or probation officers. My amendment also covers supervisors appointed as a result of an education supervision orderor ESOalso made under the Children Act,
The Waterhouse report noted that no less a figure than Derek Brushett, a highly esteemed social worker who later became the deputy head of the social services inspectorate in Wales, turned out to be a paedophile. He is serving a 14-year sentence for abusing children. If such a case is possible, surely it is reasonable to bring supervisors under the abuse of trust provisions.
At times of great emergency in the life of a child, a court can appoint a person to safeguard the child's interests under Section 41 of the Children Act 1989. Until 2000, these officers were known as guardians ad litem. Now they are known as officers of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. The role of the officer is to represent the child and his interests in legal proceedings. In practice this involves consulting the child as to his wishes and attempting to gain the child's confidence. In extremis a child can become very trusting of those whose advice he or she depends upon. How could it ever be acceptable for an officer of the court to become sexually involved with a child he is appointed to protect? Surely there is a case for bringing them under the abuse of trust provisions.
My Amendment No. 160 brings registered childminders within the scope of the Bill's abuse of trust provisions. Childminders are in a position of very real trust as they are clearly in loco parentis. They may look after a child in the child's own home. They may do so several days a week. They will usually be unmonitored for most of the time that they are with the child. That gives huge scope for abuse. Childminders have to be registered under Part XA of the Children Act 1989. Failure to register is an offence. This, therefore, represents a clearly defined category of persons to whom the abuse of trust offence can be applied.
The NSPCC surveyed almost 3,000 young people about sexual abuse. Of those who reported sexual abuse by a non-relative, 2 per cent said they had been subjected to penetrative acts or oral sex by a babysitter. By comparison less than 1 per cent reported the same type of abuse by a teacher. Some 2 per cent reported voyeurism with a babysitter. Less than 1 per cent report voyeurism with a teacher.
In May 2001, a childminder was gaoled for a year for sex with a boy of 13. Ann Timmins, a 40 year-old, carried out more than 40 sexual acts on the boy, often while her own children were present. She admitted indecent assault and gross indecency. In September 2002, Brian Park, a registered childminder, was remanded into custody after pleading guilty to making an indecent image of a child and possessing child pornography with intent to distribute. His wife, also a childminder, had taken a photograph of a child in her care which Mr Park then doctored to include a sexual photograph of himself. It is true that not all babysitters will be covered by this amendment, only registered childminders.
In February this year, Robert Ireland, a 56 year-old, was sentenced to 15 months for indecently assaulting two girls. He had babysat for the girls while their mothers were out socialising. The two girls were aged nine and 11. Peter Hatchett, 23, conducted a campaign of sexual abuse against young girls while acting as a babysitter. He admitted 12 offences of indecent assault and seven of taking indecent photographs of a child. He assaulted six girls between three and 11 years of age over a three-year period. He also took more than 250 indecent pictures of his victims. Clearly, abuse by babysitters is a problem which must be addressed.
Clause 23(5) addresses abuse by teachersa recognised problem. The NSPCC survey at the very least demonstrates that the abuse of trust provisions must also tackle abuse by those who look after children at home. It may be that the Home Office could improve the drafting but the amendment describes a precise category of personsthose registered under Part XA of the Children Act 1989, which lays down a detailed scheme for the registration of childminders.
Nannies and au pairs, for example, would be caught only if they happened to be registered. Not all babysitters would be covered but the measure begins to address the problem and does so in reliance on an existing statutory definition.
It is difficult to catch every person in a category. For example, not all teachers are covered by Clause 23(5). Only if the victim is a full-time pupil and the teacher teaches regularly at that child's school will the abuse be caught. I have tabled later amendments that will widen those provisions. But a real attempt is being made to address an identified problem of teacher abuse.
The issue of babysitters may be an even bigger problem. Clearly, some attempt must be made in this clause to address it. Some will say that childminders tend to deal with children under 16 where other sexual offences will catch them even without applying abuse of trust. That may be true but the point of the abuse of trust offence is that it works in tandem with other sexual offences in order to ensure that the abuse of a position of trust to facilitate sexual crime is reflected both in the definition of the offence and in the sentence.
The Government rightly do not limit abuse of trust to victims over 16. There is an overlap between abuse of trust and the age of consent offences and, indeed, with non-consensual offences. That ensures that the seriousness of breach of trust is recognised.
In any event, over-16s also need protection. A childminder may be employed to look after all the children in the home. A family with five children aged two to 16 might decide that the 16 year-old is not quite responsible enough to look after his younger siblings, and so employ a childminder to look after all of them. The 16 year-old is therefore in regular contact with the registered childminder, even though he is not the primary reason why the childminder is there.
I hope that the Minister will not set his face against the amendments. I think that I have given enough evidence to prove that they are essential. Such people are in very intimate positions of trust in many cases, and they should be brought within the provisions of the Bill. I beg to move.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: I added my name to Amendment No. 151, and I speak particularly to my own amendment, Amendment No. 161, which provides an opportunity to specify that sports coaches should be included in the categories of positions of trust.
The coach holds an influential position with a young athlete. In many situations, he will have the power to determine the events or competitions in which an athlete will participate, and indeed the athlete's long-term career opportunities. Many young athletes, particularly those participating at county and national level, will spend long periods with their coach away from home and from parental or other forms of external supervision. The high level of dependency that the young athlete has on the coach creates a high level of vulnerability. Regrettably, there is significant evidence that some coaches have exploited their position of power and influence over the young athletes in their charge.
The establishment of the NSPCC's Child Protection in Sport Unit has provided sport with a simple referral point for concerns about abuse of trust. The unit works in close partnership with Sport England, the Sports Council for Northern Ireland and the Sports Council for Wales. In the past 12 months, a number of sports have reported cases where an inappropriate and abusive relationship between an adult coach and a young athlete has developed and led to serious concerns.
Many young athletes participate in sports at a county or national level. Some 1,400 young people are on the UK world-class star performance programme, funded directly by the lottery. Young athletes need the protection afforded to other 16 year-olds and 17 year-olds where there is a situation of trust, to ensure that national sport can develop and provide top athletes without the fear of sexual exploitation.
The NSPCC has brought several cases to my attention that underline the importance of strengthening the law in the area. As the hour is so late, I shall refer to only two of them. The first is that of a 17 year-old national champion who reported a number of sexual assaults committed by her coach at the residential training centre, and at a number of international competitions. The coach admitted having sexual intercourse with her but claimed that that was consensual, and no criminal action was taken. Following her complaint to the national governing body, it was disclosed to the NSPCC that a number of allegations had been made previously by other female athletes, but again no action had been taken. The coach continues to work and the athlete has now left the national squad.
The second case concerns a national governing body that received a number of complaints against a national coach by members of an under-21 national squad. The allegations were that the coach was exploiting his position and having sexual relationships with team members. Internal disciplinary action was taken, although again the coach retained his position.
The issue deserves a good deal of consideration in the Bill. I hope that my noble and learned friend will give some indication that the Government are prepared to widen the position of trust provision to include athletes and sports coaches.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page