UK: New Criminal Offence Of "Upskirting" Added To Schools Safeguarding Guidance From September 2019

Last Updated: 31 July 2019
Article by Alacoque Marvin and Callum Pooler

Keeping Children Safe in Education: revised statutory guidance is expected to be in place from 2 September 2019.

"Upskirting" became a specific criminal offence under the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 on 12 April this year. It typically involves taking a photograph under a person's clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks for sexual gratification or causing humiliation, distress or alarm. The revised version of Keeping Children Safe in Education lists upskirting as one example of peer on peer abuse of which school staff should be aware.

A copy of the new, and current, guidance is available here. All schools and academies are required to have regard to this advice. The guidance continues to be refined and added to in the face of new and evolving threats. These include threats which have been much in the media of late, such as the risks to children and young people involved in and exploited by gangs and criminal networks.

Key changes within the new guidance are listed below:

Part 1 – Safeguarding information for all staff

  • "Upskirting" has been added to the list of examples of peer on peer abuse.
  • New information is included concerning the risks to children involved with serious violence. Staff should be vigilant for signs that children are involved with serious violent crime, criminal networks and gangs. Links to Government advice for schools on gangs and youth violence and  county lines have also been added.  

Part 2 – Management of safeguarding

  • References to the guidance on multi-agency working have been updated to reflect new safeguarding partner and child death review arrangements which will be in place from 29 September 2019. The three safeguarding partners (the local authority, a local clinical commissioning group and a local chief of police) will work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of local children. Governing bodies, proprietors, management committees and senior leadership teams (including the designated safeguarding lead) should make themselves aware of and follow the new arrangements.
  • The guidance on the opportunity to teach safeguarding through Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education has been updated. Readers will be aware of the current debate concerning teaching primary school children about LGBT relationships. This debate arises from the use of the "No Outsiders" programme by some schools. From September 2020, the subjects of Relationships Education (for all primary pupils), Relationships and Sex Education (for all secondary pupils), and Health Education (for all pupils in state-funded schools) will be mandatory. All pupils will be expected to be taught LGBT content in an age appropriate way.  Parents can withdraw their children from sex education, but not from relationships education classes.
  • The guidance on Ofsted inspections has been updated to include the relevant inspection framework, and continues to include safeguarding within the scope of the inspector's report.

Part 3 – Safer recruitment

  • The Government guidance for overseas qualified teachers that can apply to the Teaching Regulation Agency for qualified teacher status in England is currently being revised. The direct link to the guidance has therefore been removed.
  • The guidance has also been amended to make clear that maintained schools should carry out section 128 checks on school governors. A person who is subject to a section 128 direction is disqualified from taking part in the management of academy trusts, free schools and independent schools and is disqualified from holding office as a governor of a maintained school. For information, "management" positions include:

    • Employees in a management position in an independent school, academy or free school;
    • Trustees of an academy or free school trust;
    • Governor or members of a proprietor body for an independent school;
    • Governors on any governing body in an independent school, academy or free school that retains or has been delegated any management responsibilities, including members of a local governing body.
  • A new section is included regarding checks on associate members who are appointed by the governing body of a maintained school to serve on a governing body committee. While enhanced DBS checks on governors are mandatory, the guidance clarifies that they are not mandatory for associate members.

Annex C – Online safety

  • There is a link to Government guidance on teaching online safety in schools. This focuses on how schools can ensure that pupils know how to behave and stay safe online as part of the existing curriculum requirements.

The current guidance, which has been in place since September 2018 continues to apply and should be referred to before the new guidance supersedes it this September.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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