The initial risk management meeting

Whilst social work has the lead responsibility for convening and chairing risk management meetings and reviews, it is of vital importance that key professionals from other agencies prioritise attendance at these meetings. A typical risk management would include the relevant social work manager and allocated worker(s), parents/ alternative carers, schools services staff, police and a member of the CAMHS team if involved.

This meeting will identify the following:

      • A worker/s to undertake the initial risk assessment
      • Accommodation and educational requirements. Decisions in terms of current school placement will be made separately by head of service
      • Immediate risk factors
      • Agreed immediate risk management strategies
      • A risk management team
      • A date and time for the first risk management review.
      • Ensure the appropriate safety plan has been completed

The first risk management review will:

      • Act on information provided by the initial assessment. This will include reviewing and revising immediate risk management strategies. Including reviewing the initial safety plan
      • Plan a comprehensive risk assessment, identifying the respective roles and tasks of the risk management team
      • Begin the process of a developing a team understanding of the pathways to the young person’s behaviours, their needs and risk

In addition the chair will:

      • Revisit and reaffirm the purpose of the risk management protocol and the principles underpinning the effective management of risk
      • Determine the frequency of risk management reviews.

Where a comprehensive assessment is being undertaken there should be a risk management review both during and at the end of the assessment to assist in the short term management and monitoring of risk

Meetings thereafter will be convened at regular intervals dependant on risk and stage of intervention. There needs to be some degree of flexibility. Meetings should be considered when it is anticipated that risk will become higher, e.g. Christmas, other holidays, birthdays, children’s hearings. Additional meetings may have to be convened at short notice where there are unforeseen escalations in risk.

Further guidance is available under risk management framework.

Messages from research

Adolescents make up a significant proportion of those convicted for sexual offending. England and Wales ¼ (Kelly et aI 1991), Northern Ireland ⅓ (Northern Ireland Research team 1991), 50% of adult sex offenders disclosing behaviours starting in adolescence (AbeI, 1984) In addition there is a growing awareness of the number of younger children with sexual behaviour problems who also require interventions from a risk management perspective. The protocol recognises the need to respond to children and adolescents and takes into account age, level of functioning, and nature of behaviour.

Children and young people with problem sexual behaviours are not a homogenous group.  There are distinct sub groups each with their own treatment needs (Worling, 2001, Johnson, 2004).

The diversity should be seen a key organising theme that can help support effective approaches to all children and young people who present with problem or abusing sexual behaviours. (Hackett, 2005) .

This diversity applies to:

The wide range of sexual behaviours that children and young people can display, such as the nature of behaviours, degree of force, motivation, level of intent, level of sexual arousal, age and gender of victims, but also to broader developmental issues relating to the age of the young person, their family and background experiences, their intellectual capacities and their stage of development. Young people with learning difficulties are a particularly vulnerable and often neglected group who may need specific types of interventions.

Many of these children and young people who present with problem sexual behaviours have histories characterised by multiple abuse and disadvantage.  (Friedrich, 1995, Hudson & Marshall, 1995, Ryan, 1999).

Interventions with this group of children need to be holistic, systemic and goal specific. (Hackett, 2004). The overall aim of intervention is risk management and psychological well being and this is most effective when children and adolescents learn to manage their sexual behaviours within the broader aim of learning to meet their needs in a socially acceptable and personally satisfying way. (Ward (2004).

Interventions that are focused appropriately are likely to succeed in preventing further abuse. More recent studies show recidivism rates at between 3 – 14%. (Prentky, 2000). Another study showed a 5% recidivism following treatment within a six year follow up period. (Worling and Curven, 2002). These figures are low and important to consider as there can be a tendency for professionals to over emphasise risk of recidivism concerning children and young people with problem sexual behaviours.

Specialist programmes designed for young people with problem sexual behaviours should be subject to robust external quality control measures that ensure that they are designed and delivered effectively. (Scottish Executive, 2005).