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Source: (consider it) Thread: Innocent until....
Jolly Jape
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This thread is a spin off from the York Ringers thread in Hell.

Much of the discussion surrounds the fact that the erstwhile captain of the Ringers had been under investigation for improper behaviour towards children or young people. His case had been investigated by the police, and there had been insufficient evidence to proceed to prosecution. Some years later, the case was reviewed, with the same outcome. There was then an attempt to get a sexual risk order against him, something which requires a lower standard of proof (balance of probability rather than beyond reasonable doubt) and, yet again, the order was refused due to lack of evidence. All this suggests that evidence against him was pretty slim.

There have been a series of moves by governments of all shades to introduce several different types of "orders", for instance "ASBO"s (Anti Social Behaviour Orders", Control Orders (against suspected terrorist sympathisers), the above mentioned Sexual Risk Orders, Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) etc.

All these seek either to criminalise behaviour which would not otherwise be criminal, or to reduce the burden of proof required for conviction, or both. I find this extremely disturbing. A cornerstone (maybe the cornerstone) of Common Law is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The corollary of that is that it is the state's responsibility to prove guilt, rather than the suspect's responsibility to prove innocence.

I have been amazed by the number of people on the abovementioned thread, who seem cool with all this, people who I respect as posters, even those with whom I would normally agree. So, necessary evil or moral panic. Discuss...

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Doc Tor
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And as one of those who disagreed with JJ and think that the OP is somewhat 'economical with the truth', this is what the Dean and Chapter have said about the matter.

I've said all I want to say about the situation in Hell. I still disagree with JJ. Criminal prosecution is just one level of evidence, and a particularly high one at that.

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mr cheesy
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This seems to me to be simply about risk. Some seem to this it is acceptable for churches to turn a blind eye to risky behaviours on the basis that perpetrators have not been in court. This fails to appreciate the damage that individuals can do long before they are held to account in court.

And perhaps also seems to be blind to the simple fact that volunteering is a privilege not a right.

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arse

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Jolly Jape
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
And as one of those who disagreed with JJ and think that the OP is somewhat 'economical with the truth', this is what the Dean and Chapter have said about the matter.

I've said all I want to say about the situation in Hell. I still disagree with JJ. Criminal prosecution is just one level of evidence, and a particularly high one at that.

Yes it is, though there was also insufficient evidence for a Sexual Risk Order, which requires a lower standard of proof, to be granted. I'm not sure what truth I am being economical with. I tried to phrase the OP in as neutral as possible a way, though you are entitled to read it as you wish. The point that I am trying to explore is that, in this case and maybe others, there seems no way in which anyone accused of this sort of crime, (or of terrorism, or just being a PITA) can possibly realistically defend themselves or go about their lawful personal business, when officialdom treats them as guilty whatever the findings of an investigation which has already been slugged to favour the prosecution.

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Jolly Jape
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
This seems to me to be simply about risk. Some seem to this it is acceptable for churches to turn a blind eye to risky behaviours on the basis that perpetrators have not been in court. This fails to appreciate the damage that individuals can do long before they are held to account in court.

And perhaps also seems to be blind to the simple fact that volunteering is a privilege not a right.

No-one has suggested turning a blind eye, but ISTM a failure of imagination to realise that one of the reasons, perhaps the most likely explanation of why there might be little or no evidence against a person is because that person is not guilty. Your point of view seems to discount that explanation completely.

Of course, I can't control where this thread goes, but It was an attempt to leave the bell ringers behind and widen discussion. From my perspective, I think that it is absolutely essential for the functioning of a liberal democracy that IUPG is sacrosanct. We have already had double jeopardy consigned to the dustbin of history, and IUPG is daily assaulted by the proliferation of Orders. There are reasons why we are a liberal democracy, and these safeguards are two of them.

[ 28. December 2016, 17:08: Message edited by: Jolly Jape ]

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
I'm not sure what truth I am being economical with.

Neglecting to mention that there were two separate cases. Neglecting to mention that there was a multi-agency investigation. Neglecting to mention that the person concerned gave undertakings to change their behaviour.

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Forward the New Republic

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
No-one has suggested turning a blind eye, but ISTM a failure of imagination to realise that one of the reasons, perhaps the most likely explanation of why there might be little or no evidence against a person is because that person is not guilty. Your point of view seems to discount that explanation completely.[quote]

An agreement was made controlling risky behaviours which was not kept. There is no "not guilty" option here, the behaviours were deemed risky and efforts to control them were not kept. That can't continue.

[Quote]Of course, I can't control where this thread goes, but It was an attempt to leave the bell ringers behind and widen discussion. From my perspective, I think that it is absolutely essential for the functioning of a liberal democracy that IUPG is sacrosanct. We have already had double jeopardy consigned to the dustbin of history, and IUPG is daily assaulted by the proliferation of Orders. There are reasons why we are a liberal democracy, and these safeguards are two of them.

But nobody has ever said that one is somehow not innocent until proven guilty. What has been said is that there are risky behaviours, that an agreement to control them was not kept and hence the privilege to volunteer was withdrawn.

If he was innocent and just finding himself in accidental and awkward positions, then the simple solution is to follow the agreed directions of the organisation with whom one is volunteering. There is no issue here with accusations and the presumption of innocence.

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arse

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mr cheesy
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Imagine a volunteer working in a charity shop. Money had been going missing from the till, and the volunteer has been in close proximity each time.

The manager decides that there isn't enough evidence to show that the volunteer is a thief, but sets out a behaviour code which the volunteer mist abide with to continue volunteering.

The volunteer refuses and the privilege to volunteer is rescinded. End of.

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arse

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BroJames
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First, in general, the presumption of innocence is a matter of criminal law which means that a person cannot be found guilty of a criminal offence without the prosecution proving beyond reasonable doubt that the offence was committed, and by the accused; the accused is not required to prove anything at all; and the court may not draw any inference whatever from the fact that the defendant has been charged, and is present in court and represented by a an attorney.

Secondly, the options for a verdict in England and Wales are "guilty" or "not guilty". "Not guilty" ≠ "innocent", which is why, both in real life and in fiction, where there is compelling evidence as to the innocence of the defendant, judges may go out of their way to make that clear.

Thirdly, evidence which is insufficient to bring a prosecution may still be enough to find a person liable on the balance of probabilities in civil proceedings. Thus, for example, I might be found not guilty of driving without due care and attention (aka careless driving) but still be successfully sued and found liable on the balance of probabilities for the injuries my careless driving has caused.

Turning to the OP
quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
His case had been investigated by the police, and there had been insufficient evidence to proceed to prosecution.

There can be all sorts of reasons for the evidence being "insufficient" including that the victim is too young for their evidence to be accepted by a court, and/or too at risk of being further harmed by having to give evidence

quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
Some years later, the case was reviewed, with the same outcome.

AFAICT from this statement the later allegations in 2014 were separate from the issues raised in 1999/2000 - this was not just a review of the original set of allegations.

quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
There was then an attempt to get a sexual risk order against him, something which requires a lower standard of proof (balance of probability rather than beyond reasonable doubt) and, yet again, the order was refused due to lack of evidence.

Again my understanding is that at least part of the reason that the order was not made was that the person concerned "gave certain undertakings". In fact, the circumstances appear to have been sufficient for a magistrates court at first instance to make an interim order, pending final determination.


quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
All this suggests that evidence against him was pretty slim.

No, just not sufficient to ground a prosecution requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt.

quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
There have been a series of moves by governments of all shades to introduce several different types of "orders", for instance "ASBO"s (Anti Social Behaviour Orders", Control Orders (against suspected terrorist sympathisers), the above mentioned Sexual Risk Orders, Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) etc.

All these seek either to criminalise behaviour which would not otherwise be criminal, or to reduce the burden of proof required for conviction, or both.

This is only a partly accurate description of these various measures. ASBOs and PSPOs certainly do the former of those two things. Control Orders and Sexual Risk Orders seek to place restrictions on the behaviour of people who, for one reason or another, cannot be successfully prosecuted.

quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
I find this extremely disturbing. A cornerstone (maybe the cornerstone) of Common Law is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The corollary of that is that it is the state's responsibility to prove guilt, rather than the suspect's responsibility to prove innocence.

This should read "presumed innocent until proven guilty", and I agree that all these orders are legitimately a matter of concern and public discussion. I think ASBOs and PSPOs are one issue, and Control Orders and Sexual Risk Orders are a separate issue, and it will not help clear discussion to mix them. And there is a yet further separate issue that organisations may make decisions to restrict peoples activity or involvement with those organisations without the need for legislation. Thus, in the Diocese of York a safeguarding notification from the diocese was circulated to incumbents is in force to the effect that a named person should not be permitted access to bell towers of churches in the diocese to ring or for any other purpose.

quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
I have been amazed by the number of people on the abovementioned thread, who seem cool with all this, people who I respect as posters, even those with whom I would normally agree. So, necessary evil or moral panic. Discuss...

I think there is an important question here about what steps can/should be taken to protect vulnerable people from those who are deemed a risk to them, and how that is to be balanced against the harm to those against whom such steps are taken. I don't think a useful discussion is helped, however, by tying it to the York Minster bell ringers situation.
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mdijon
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ASBOs and other orders should be separated from child protection issues.

IUPG has not been regarded as a reason to allow people access to children for some time. A manager of a school or any other facility has to take a judgement at a level of evidence that would be insufficient for other purposes (i.e. short of guilt in a court of law).

Whether ASBOs are a good idea or just a way of getting people on the wrong side of the law without proper proof is worth discussing separately, as the justification of protecting children is not relevant.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Barnabas62
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JJ

I've seen a couple of cases like this. In the first one, a youth worker agreed not to give young people lifts home without another adult in the car (a restriction later added to CPS guidelines) and in the second a youth worker accepted that they were too "huggy" and that friendly or reassuring hugs could easily be misconstrued (another restriction added to CPS guidelines).

Some people just don't "get" the risks and the impact on trust if their behaviour has caused misunderstanding. "I meant no harm and there was no harm" and "after all these years you'd think I could be trusted" just don't cut the mustard any more. And if there has been gossip, or parents have put their foot down, then there isn't much of a choice to be made. There is a grey area between careful acceptable behaviour and unacceptable behaviour which does not of itself constitute criminality, but which needs to be considered properly under duty of care.

Does it mean that some folks get a bit of a raw deal? Maybe. It depends how good the CPS vetting and training has been.

[ 28. December 2016, 18:28: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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georgiaboy
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
JJ
It depends how good the CPS vetting and training has been.

While presuming that CPS vetting / training may be somewhat different than those encountered on this side of the pond:

Some years back I was employed by a TEC parish in a diocese which required all employees to receive what IIRC was termed 'awareness training.' This consisted of some lecture-type presentations and the viewing of a not-too-well-produced film. WHICH WAS TERRIBLE!
My comment to the presenter at the end amounted to 'this was a good how-to training film.' Which comment was received with blank stares!

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Gee D
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As I said in Hell, until quite recently I would have agreed with JJ. What has emerged in the current Royal Commission has changed my approach completely. The standard in criminal proceedings is the burden carried by a prosecution seeking to have person dealt with under the criminal legislation. It necessarily is a high standard and rightly remains so.

The York Minster example, and all other cases involving the protection of children and other vulnerable people, is completely different. If I wish to work with such people, I have to obtain a clearance. In obtaining a clearance, I bear the burden of proving on the balance of probabilities that one should be given to me. I bear the burden because I seek the clearance.

I'll be 70 in less than a month, and over those years my only record is 1 speeding offence; obtaining the clearance will be very easy. If I needed to add a smoke marijuana offence 45 years it would become harder and adding an unsuccessful prosecution for peep and pry would make it harder still. Once you get to an unsuccessful prosecution for a sexual offence against a child it is even harder. Neither the burden of proof nor where it lies changes. It is just that the seriousness of the consequences require a higher standard of evidence. In Briginshaw v Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336, Sir Owen Dixon (and remember that he is generally regarded as the greatest judge in the common law world of the last century) said:

'Fortunately ... at common law no third standard of persuasion was definitely developed. Except upon criminal issues to be proved by the prosecution, it is enough that the affirmative of an allegation is made out to the reasonable satisfaction of the tribunal. But reasonable satisfaction is not a state of mind that is attained or established independently of the nature and consequence of the fact or facts to be proved.

The seriousness of an allegation made, the inherent unlikelihood of an occurrence of a given description, or the gravity of the consequences flowing from a particular finding, are considerations which must affect the answer to the question whether the issue has been proved to the reasonable satisfaction of the tribunal. '


It is that sort of burden which an applicant for a clearance must meet.

BTW, I read the last press release from the bellringers to which you gave a link in the Hell thread. That is even knowing little of the background, a carefully drafted PR document rather than an assessment by a lawyer. It totally misses the essential points raised by the Dean and Chapter.

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Dafyd
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Presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt is a sound principle in the criminal law.

However, presumed safe until proven dangerous beyond reasonable doubt is not a sound principle in child protection.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Arethosemyfeet
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I agree with all the child protection points others have made. The only sliver of doubt in my mind is the scourge of false accusations. As a (male) teacher, you are always aware that it only takes one allegation to make you unemployable, even if you're not convicted of anything and not found to have done anything wrong. I'd almost welcome a legal process with a proof level below the criminal for something to be included on enhanced disclosures. I've never been accused of anything myself, thankfully, but it makes you a little paranoid about doing anything that could possibly be misinterpreted (false, of course, need not mean malicious).

[ 29. December 2016, 06:24: Message edited by: Arethosemyfeet ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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@Arethosemyfeet: I am interested to note that you felt it important to say that you are a male teacher. I can assure you that false and malicious allegations get made against female teachers as well, although I suspect that their substance may be somewhat different.
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Gee D
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Arethosemyfeet, In NSW, matters come before a Tribunal charged with deciding whether the decision by the Children's Guardian to refuse a clearance is the correct and preferable one. Strictly, there is no burden of proof but in practice there is an evidential and forensic burden on the person seeking to overturn a decision that clearance not be granted. It is not a test beyond reasonable doubt, but the Briginshaw considerations I referred to above come into play.

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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
@Arethosemyfeet: I am interested to note that you felt it important to say that you are a male teacher. I can assure you that false and malicious allegations get made against female teachers as well, although I suspect that their substance may be somewhat different.

I'm sure that's true, but I'm also pretty sure that male teachers, particularly in primary and nursery, are viewed with suspicion almost by default, and certainly more-so than female teachers.
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Baptist Trainfan
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Sadly so - although I have no idea if that translates into the "pro rata" level of actual allegations.
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Chamois
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Originally posted by Gee D:

quote:
In NSW, matters come before a Tribunal charged with deciding whether the decision by the Children's Guardian to refuse a clearance is the correct and preferable one. Strictly, there is no burden of proof but in practice there is an evidential and forensic burden on the person seeking to overturn a decision that clearance not be granted. It is not a test beyond reasonable doubt, but the Briginshaw considerations I referred to above come into play
IMO this is the key point. As far as I'm aware, the "official" non-criminal orders (ASBOs etc) all include a right and process of appeal. For example, a Non-Molestation Order may be imposed by a court which has found a defendant not guilty of domestic violence. But the person who is given the order can apply to the Family Court to have it dismissed or to have the terms of the order varied. The Family court holds a full hearing on the application and decides on the balance of probabilities criterion.

I agree with the OP that there is a real danger of injustice in circumstances where there is no such right or process of appeal. So, for example, if an employer were to restrict the duties of a particular employee on the grounds of risk, might this not impact on that employee's future prospects of promotion?

Can the UK schoolteachers who are posting here tell is whether their employers have an established appeal procedure for teachers whose activities have been restricted following an accusation of sexual assault which has been investigated but not proved to the criminal standard? Does anyone know of any other analogous situations involving employees? What about nurses or home carers?

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The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases

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Arethosemyfeet
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Frankly, given the time taken to prove (or not) allegations of that nature, the accused will likely have been sacked long before the case comes to a conclusion, with little or no chance of getting another job, never mind being reinstated. That's assuming they have the mental strength left to continue. Schools are (perhaps understandably after Soham) paranoid about child protection and anything that got as a far as even being charged as sexual assault would likely lead to never working with children again in any capacity.
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Chamois
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Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:

quote:
anything that got as a far as even being charged as sexual assault would likely lead to never working with children again in any capacity.
That's what I suspected. And I agree with the OP that this is a) unjust and b) deeply worrying in terms of civil liberties.

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The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases

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Forthview
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Indeed schools are paranoid,although I worked for a number of years with children who had multiple handicaps where touching (appropriately,of course) was an integral part of daily activities.

One day I was driving along a country road in the middle of nowhere.My hands were dirty as I had been working in fields. I came across a small primary school where the children were preparing for a village festival the next day.The school toilets faced the road and I could see right at the entrance a wash hand basin.I stopped and asked the school janitor (caretaker) if I could wash my hands as I was about to stop for a picnic lunch. He said he would have to ask the head teacher who came out and said that she could not let me use the washhand basin visible from the door without permission of the Director of Education.

However she kindly said that she would get the keys of the village hall on the other side of the road and let me in there to wash my hands. She came in with me and I deliberately left the door open so that she could see that I really and truly only wanted to 'wash my hands'

I thanked her for her trouble and continued on my way.

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Curiosity killed ...

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I have worked with several teachers who were internally cleared following false allegations. There is usually a suspension while the investigation takes place, followed by reinstatement if cleared; that happened to one headteacher.

Students who are known to make false allegations are treated very cautiously - and staff members are advised to make sure they follow all safeguarding advice to the letter when working with them†, including making sure two members of staff are present when dealing with that student individually.

Another teacher chose to move schools - and I only realised that his history included something like this when I mentioned on that a teenage girl had spent her lunchtime writing missives to him in learning support*. He went white and asked if we could advise her that she was being inappropriate.

I have also known one teacher lose their job following allegations that were not proven, but his behaviour had been very unwise and he did not follow safeguarding advice - so lifts home in his car, not being careful about seeing students individually with doors ajar and witnesses around ... And how difficult it was to sack a member of support staff who was still on probation for similar behaviour.

* that learning support department provided lunchtime homework help - this girl was asking how to spell odd words and we asked what she was doing and passed the information on.
† it is really difficult to place a student in a new school who has been suspended after making false allegations.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
Frankly, given the time taken to prove (or not) allegations of that nature, the accused will likely have been sacked long before the case comes to a conclusion, with little or no chance of getting another job, never mind being reinstated.

No, they won't. Because sacking someone in that context will lead to an industrial tribunal and the school would be on a hiding to nothing.
quote:
That's assuming they have the mental strength left to continue. Schools are (perhaps understandably after Soham) paranoid about child protection and anything that got as a far as even being charged as sexual assault would likely lead to never working with children again in any capacity.
Being charged with a sexual assault would indicate that the CPS thought that there was both (a) a likelihood of a conviction, and (b) that proceeding with the case was in the public interest. That is a long way down the line from allegation, investigation, and arrest. That is not 'paranoid', and you're grossly misrepresenting what actually happens in schools.

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Forward the New Republic

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by georgiaboy:
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
JJ
It depends how good the CPS vetting and training has been.

While presuming that CPS vetting / training may be somewhat different than those encountered on this side of the pond:

Some years back I was employed by a TEC parish in a diocese which required all employees to receive what IIRC was termed 'awareness training.' This consisted of some lecture-type presentations and the viewing of a not-too-well-produced film. WHICH WAS TERRIBLE!
My comment to the presenter at the end amounted to 'this was a good how-to training film.' Which comment was received with blank stares!

IME UK schools and churches are pretty good at this. Obviously I can't speak for all, but my local congo is exemplary, thanks to well defined policies re recruitment and behaviour, coupled with sensible training. People generally "get" the risks to themselves as well as young people. I think there is a dwindling minority who feel it's over the top "for a Christian congregation".

[ 29. December 2016, 17:17: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:

I have also known one teacher lose their job following allegations that were not proven, but his behaviour had been very unwise and he did not follow safeguarding advice - so lifts home in his car, not being careful about seeing students individually with doors ajar and witnesses around ... And how difficult it was to sack a member of support staff who was still on probation for similar behaviour.

And if a teacher is going to ignore such basic guidelines, how can s/he be said to be trustworthy? It's important that the wider school community knows that child safety is taken seriously, that children know that the school is concerned for them, and that any report if inappropriate behaviour that is made will be thoroughly examined.

quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor

Being charged with a sexual assault would indicate that the CPS thought that there was both (a) a likelihood of a conviction, and (b) that proceeding with the case was in the public interest. That is a long way down the line from allegation, investigation, and arrest. That is not 'paranoid', and you're grossly misrepresenting what actually happens in schools.

I don't know the guidelines for prosecution in the UK - and the Scottish ones are probably different to the others in any event, but the guidelines here are not the likelihood of a prosecution but rather that the evidence available would support a finding of guilty. I think the difference is more than a nuance.

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Pyx_e

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A big part of the problem is not the guilty / not guilty issue but the PEADO!!!!!!!! issue.

When you label, in societies eyes, every crime against a child thus whether it be a (wrongful) kiss and grope or and (even more wrongful) full on sexual assault as the act of PEADO then every person guilty of such a crime will do anything and everything to avoid the label.

It is the current form of leprosy, you might just have a bit of flaky skin or you may have bits falling off but is done matter UNCLEAN!!!!!

And yes I know all the gateway arguments. I'm just saying all this posturing and shouting is simply to keep covering up two truths.

Firstly as institution by institution falls, Care homes, the Church, the Entertainment industry, Football Clubs we get ever more frantic because the greatest institution of them all comes ever closer to the spotlight - The family. The most revered and abusive institution of them all. 96% of all abuse, hush now don't let on. Keep pointing and looking over there, where? there by the stair.

Secondly the post modern (permissive) capitalist regime at which we all suck on the tit is based on this premise, sex sells. The same parents who would gladly burn a PEADO at the stake who lived in their street will just as happily force sexual stereotypes, dress and behaviours on their young children, while ignoring sexting, endless hard core porn available on any phone, peer pressure and inappropriate behaviours of dad's uncles and friends. Oh it's just Billy he's a one.

The safeguarding authorities seem at times to cause as many problems as they solve. Power corrupts and all that. I could fill endless pages of abuse by safeguarding officers (including being held in contempt of court) who use the inherent threat of declaring a person publically UNCLEAN to wreck lives and on occasion put or keep children in harms way.

It must be time for a calmer more measured and realistic approach to the whole issue, but that would mean parents taking responsibility for their kids. Seeing as they can not even teach them common courtesy I doubt we will ever get as far as a conversation about why adults screw kids.

Pyx_e

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyx_e:
...

[citation needed]

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mr cheesy
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Well OK it feels like there is "paedo-fear", but what's the alternative? We know that paedo abusers were hiding in plain sight in many institutions and the authorities did naff all about it even when alerted to the dangers.

It might seem harsh when a teacher at a boys school "encourages" skinny-dipping and is later told that this means his 30+ yr teaching career is over. It might seem tough when a youth worker who was "getting too close" to young girls is tarred with that brush.

But what's the alternative here? The above examples have no criminal record or convictions. But even in the days when these thing happened, they should have known better. It wasn't naivity, it was stupidity.

I genuinely feel sorry for people who face false accusations, but in the main people who are actually sanctioned by the law and/or other institutions for risky behaviour have been acting stupidly. Maybe they're not actually abusers in the "true" sense, but even so I'm not sure they're fit and proper people to have authority over children.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Gee D:
And if a teacher is going to ignore such basic guidelines, how can s/he be said to be trustworthy?

There is an unwillingness in some quarters to accept that the rules have changed. When I were a lad (uphill both ways and all that), we had a PE teacher who used to watch boys in the communal shower (for the purposes of recording times taken and so penalizing a slowcoach), we had multiple instances of teachers driving individual pupils places alone in their personal cars (some were even planned like that), and there was no idea that there might be anything unwise about any of that.

Of course, we also had a couple of sixth-form boys shagging young female teachers, which was widely thought to be unwise (but because of putting the teacher in a position where she might have to discipline her lover, not because of any idea that she might be taking advantage.)

It is true that safeguarding rules are sometimes inconvenient. So are a lot of safety rules. Deal with it. Having all your fingers is worth dealing with the safety fence on the saw, and not being the centre of a child abuse investigation is worth getting a second adult.

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ThunderBunk

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Are "risk-based policies" any more that licenced control freakery? Is it meaningfully possible to manage risk out of life?

I'm sure that they create comfort for managers, and those who wield the bizarre kind of administrative semi-soft power that is infecting all of our institutions and poisoning the relationships within them. Do they do any good for those who are supposed to be protected by them?

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ThunderBunk

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As an example of what I mean, is there any evidence that real good is balancing the harm being done by the fact that it is now effectively impossible for anyone to have a confidential pastoral relationship with a child? Especially for a man in a position of authority to do so? I can think of several conversations which were hugely important, particularly in my adolescence, which would never have happened under current conditions because I would not have felt that the necessary confidentiality was available.

That is real harm, though it's impossible to detect because it's something that wouldn't be happening. How is this harm detected, accounted for, etc. in the world of harm reduction?

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balaam

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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
As an example of what I mean, is there any evidence that real good is balancing the harm being done by the fact that it is now effectively impossible for anyone to have a confidential pastoral relationship with a child? Especially for a man in a position of authority to do so?

I too find that sad, but it is more important to make sure minors (which includes 16 and 17 year olds who are over the age of consent) are safe from those older.

We cannot manage risk out of life, safeguarding is not about the removal of all risk. It is about doing what we can to minimise risk, which we all can do.

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BroJames
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It is difficult or impossible now, I think, for a conversation to take place such that no one knows a conversation of some sort is happening. That has proved too fruitful ground for abusers. A lot of thought, however, has been given in school and church contexts to enabling confidential conversations to take place without revealing them to be 'significant' conversations. Although it is necessary not to give a false promise of confidentiality where harm or risk of harm to a cguild is revealed, which there is an obligation to disclose
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ThunderBunk

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I still think there is something fundamentally rotten at the core of the whole safeguarding mentality. It assumes pre-existing harm and looks to minimise that harm for the present and future.

for me, that is too much of an assumption. It is too Benthamite, in that it assumes that prevented harm always outweighs prevented good, and that the harm caused by the prevented good is outweighed by the prevented harm which is the result of the safeguarding. It does not look for the prevented good at all, still less seek ways in which it can happen.

[ 31. December 2016, 16:27: Message edited by: ThunderBunk ]

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
I still think there is something fundamentally rotten at the core of the whole safeguarding mentality. It assumes pre-existing harm and looks to minimise that harm for the present and future.

No. No, it doesn't.

It acknowledges pre-existing harm in a way that was simply ignored before.

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Penny S
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And it allows children to know there is a name for what is wrong, that it is not their fault, and there should be a channel for reporting it.
I know of someone who, in one school, was keen on watching the boys swim naked, who went to another where he targeted one boy with suggestive approaches, suggesting that the Head would back him, and subsequently denounced that boy to other pupils after he had left, as a pervert, a Satanist, and dangerous to others. These were lies. After a very short stay at that school, he was called to a girls' school where he spent the rest of his career.

If the boy had had the word, and a safeguarding member of staff, less damage would have been left behind the man. This was in the 60s. Damage still evident, even though no hand was placed on that pupil in that private space after school time.

And was he the only target?

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Curiosity killed ...

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Lots of schools provide a counselling service to support students, and/or mentors, peer mentors and/or named support workers or therapists. Those mentoring or counselling relationships have guidelines - and support for the mentors.

There's an acceptance that a number of young people will need support and a provision of that support in a more professional manner.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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Is it true that RC confessional booths were invented in medieval times due to lecherous priest-confessors going after parishioners?

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According to John Cornwell, yes.

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
Are "risk-based policies" any more that licenced control freakery? Is it meaningfully possible to manage risk out of life?

I'm sure that they create comfort for managers, and those who wield the bizarre kind of administrative semi-soft power that is infecting all of our institutions and poisoning the relationships within them. Do they do any good for those who are supposed to be protected by them?

Most of them are designed to protect the managers and their institutions from lawsuits. Kids growing up socially maladjusted because they never get the opportunity to have genuine friendships with adults is not considered important.

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Barnabas62
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How many of you have actually met with, counselled, victims of abuse when children, seen the effects on their personalities and personal development.

I've done that. I think the relatively mild precautionary restrictions which apply now to working with young people in a voluntary or paid capacity are a pretty small price to pay for reducing the long term effects of child abuse.

I don't think it's control-freakery, or (put more mildly) nannying to put these kinds of precautions in place.

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Curiosity killed ...

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Hands up - me - I've worked with abused children. Had to listen to a couple of disclosures too and attend child protection conferences and core group meetings.

There are places where children get relaxed times with adults, youth clubs and youth work, trips away with the school, organisations like Scouts or Girl Guides. Those are the places when I am more likely to cartwheel across the field with the girls or sit around and chat with young people.

But the guidelines are necessary to protect everyone - the adults from false allegations, the young people from unwise or predatory adults.

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anne
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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
... it is now effectively impossible for anyone to have a confidential pastoral relationship with a child? ...

I think that this is an overstatement. As BroJames describes, it is probably impossible for anyone (outside the family/household) to have such a relationship without other people knowing that the relationship exists and probably impossible for a confidential conversation to take place without other people knowing that a conversation is going on.

A confidential pastoral relationship is not the same as a secret relationship and the potential for harm, it seems to me, lies in the secrecy. Too many victims of abuse have been further harmed by being forced or threatened into secrecy.

In my ministry I spend a lot of time with children and families, in church, at school and in the community. Sometimes this means that I have to take a bit more care to ensure that a conversation happens in a public space, or alter plans in some other way, to comply with safeguarding guidelines. Why wouldn't I? Because it's easier not to? Because my pride is affronted by the possibility that I could be suspected of impropriety? Not good enough I'm afraid.

anne

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ThunderBunk

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I have no particular axe to grind, beyond a deep suspicion of bureaucratic processes which undermine relationships - of anything which subsumes our humanity to processes. If there is a single theme I spot in the various ways in which social ties and structure are disintegrating around us, it is the disregarding or devaluing of humanity, or the replacement of an inherent trait, such as regard and skill, by processes.

If we cannot value and protect our humanity, and our freedom to express its best aspects, then the incarnation is devalued, and becomes an outbreak, at best, of divine eccentricity. Of course, we then make ourselves accountable to that best functioning and for any departures from it.

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Anselmina
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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
I have no particular axe to grind, beyond a deep suspicion of bureaucratic processes which undermine relationships

Depends what relationships are being undermined, doesn't it? If the bureaucratic process prevents a would-be child abuser from being alone with a child, that would be a good thing, wouldn't it?

As yet, nothing prevents me or teaching/clergy colleagues engaging in confidential pastoral relationships. A bit of common sense and prioritizing the kid's safety goes a long way. It's still possible to strike an intelligent balance.

I'll admit I'm biased. In the past several years, I've personally known three people who I would've trusted with my own children - had I had any - and who were for years and years, absolutely trusted to be alone with kids, many of whom I knew and loved. Not just in church contexts, but teaching as well. No sane person would've doubted their unimpeachable credentials in working with kids. It transpired after certain accusations, they had in fact engaged in behaviour that got them jail time and registration on the sex offenders' list.

That's three people of my incidental acquaintance over the last handful of years. From three different areas of life, three different geographical locations, three variations of sexual offence against children. So, no surprize that the next time I'm arranging children's work, I'm going to be real interested in whose volunteering to help?

I feel heart-sick for the people they've damaged. But I loved these three people and, in ignorance, would've defended them. Even now I feel guilty that instead of hating them, I feel sorry for them and their wasted lives. But 'innocent until proven guilty' is not always going to cut the mustard.

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Barnabas62
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Thunderbunk

Establishing proven and tested guidelines for those working with children and minors provides a basis for accountability. And accountability involves submitting to guidelines established by others.

You have a point of course. I can remember both regimes; my wife and I worked together in various church youthwork capacities from the mid 1970s until we finally hung up our boots in 2007. We were assessed as being of good character by organisational leaders and that was the way it was done.

But the debates prior to, and the introduction of, the Children Act, opened our eyes to the two-way risks of the "trust" regime. We actually pioneered the introduction of guidelines, went to conferences and undertook training to set us up for the new regimes.

Did we feel something was lost in the replacement of "trust" by "trust but verify"? Maybe a little at the time, though we thought the new regime was better and safer. But that small sense of loss went away after our later experiences in counselling and support. Once you've seen the real long term damages of child abuse at close quarters, it puts the more safety-first approach into clearer perspective. Theory ceases to be theory in the face of actual damage to the vulnerable.

quote:
In my ministry I spend a lot of time with children and families, in church, at school and in the community. Sometimes this means that I have to take a bit more care to ensure that a conversation happens in a public space, or alter plans in some other way, to comply with safeguarding guidelines. Why wouldn't I? Because it's easier not to? Because my pride is affronted by the possibility that I could be suspected of impropriety? Not good enough I'm afraid.

anne

Spot on. Particularly the final sentence.

[ 02. January 2017, 10:16: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by ThunderBunk:
I have no particular axe to grind, beyond a deep suspicion of bureaucratic processes which undermine relationships - of anything which subsumes our humanity to processes. If there is a single theme I spot in the various ways in which social ties and structure are disintegrating around us, it is the disregarding or devaluing of humanity, or the replacement of an inherent trait, such as regard and skill, by processes.

If we cannot value and protect our humanity, and our freedom to express its best aspects, then the incarnation is devalued, and becomes an outbreak, at best, of divine eccentricity. Of course, we then make ourselves accountable to that best functioning and for any departures from it.

As to your opening paragraph in general, and the first sentence in particular, it's very easy to build in an appeal process. No idea about other states, let alone in the UK, but here there is a full merits appeal available to a independent specialist tribunal not managed in any way by the Children's Guardian and from there to the regular courts on rather more limited grounds.

A major advantage of a procedure such as this is that it lets those vulnerable know that if something does go wrong, they can speak out and be heard. All too often, the Royal Commission has heard abuse victims say that they thought that speaking at the time would not have done any good and that it may in fact have led to their being punished. The new message is one to be encouraged.

Otherwise what Anne and Barnabas62 have said. I do not understand your second paragraph.


quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
I know of someone who, in one school, was keen on watching the boys swim naked

A well know Sydney radio shock jock used teach at a boys school and coached the firsts rugby. One of the team has very publicly said how uncomfortable he felt being watched in the showers and given a physio massage by this man; nothing beyond that was done, but he felt uncomfortable. We have to let young people know that if they do feel uncomfortable, they can speak and be heard.

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