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Publication - Consultation Paper

Equally Safe draft delivery plan consultation 2017-2021: response analysis

Published: 1 Nov 2017

Analysis of consultation responses on the draft delivery plan for Equally Safe: Scotland's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls.

111 page PDF

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111 page PDF

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Contents
Equally Safe draft delivery plan consultation 2017-2021: response analysis
Priority 3: Interventions are early and effective, preventing violence and maximising the safety and wellbeing of women, children and young people

111 page PDF

1.0MB

Priority 3: Interventions are early and effective, preventing violence and maximising the safety and wellbeing of women, children and young people

Priority 3: Interventions are early and effective, preventing violence and maximising the safety and wellbeing of women, children and young people

Objectives

  • Justice responses are robust, swift, consistent and coordinated
  • Women, children and young people access relevant, effective and integrated services
  • Service providers competently identify violence against women and girls, and respond effectively to women, children and young people affected

Contributing workstreams: Capability and Capacity, Justice

Priority 3 listed 21 actions, under the 3 headings of "Public Services", "Specialist Services" and "Integrated Services"

Respondents were asked if they agreed that these were the right actions, if there were any that they were particularly supportive of, any that they didn't agree with, and if there were any missing/anything additional that should be added.

Q9. Do you agree or disagree that the actions listed under priority 3 are the right actions to help meet the objectives of priority 3?

Sixty-seven respondents answered this question. Two-thirds (66%) agreed that these were the right actions, 10% disagreed and around a quarter (24%) neither agreed nor disagreed (see table 4 below).

Table 4: Q9. Do you agree or disagree that the actions listed under priority 3 are the right actions to help meet the objectives of priority 3?

% No.
Agree 66% 44
Disagree 10% 7
Neither Agree nor Disagree 24% 16
N = 67

Support for Priority 3 Actions

Q10 Please tell us about any of the priority 3 actions that you are particularly supportive of.

Table A7 in Annex 1, lists all of the priority 3 actions, and shows how many respondents said that they were particularly supportive of those actions, as well as indicating the numbers of other comments provided at question 6. Some respondents explicitly stated that they supported all of the priority 3 actions.

Of actions that were singled out by respondents as being ones that they were particularly supportive of, the most popular actions were:

  • Improve the experience of vulnerable witnesses, initially focusing on child complainers and witnesses through the greater use of pre-recorded evidence (15)
  • Initiate an independent review of how national and local specialist services for women and children experiencing gender based violence are commissioned, and how we can ensure quality and sustainability of service (14)
  • Share lessons from the "Safe and Together‟ model of child protection in a domestic abuse setting, encouraging a common understanding that perpetrators of abuse should be assessed and held accountable on their parenting choices which includes the perpetration of domestic abuse (13)

Public Services

Of the actions listed under "public services", the most supported action was "Improve the experience of vulnerable witnesses, initially focusing on child complainers and witnesses through the greater use of pre-recorded evidence". Respondents were supportive of improving the experience of vulnerable witnesses. Children were specifically mentioned in the action, and some respondents felt that the action should go further than just greater use of pre-recorded evidence. Some also mentioned other groups that they classed as being particularly vulnerable, which included victims with learning disabilities, those with mental health problems and those who identify as LBGTI.

"We welcome the commitment to improve the experience of vulnerable witnesses. However we are concerned that action around this should not stop short at greater use of pre-recorded evidence but go farther to address the holistic needs of child witnesses in the criminal justice system."

- Third Sector

There was also support for the other actions relating to the Courts, "Ensure court waiting times for domestic abuse cases and sexual offences cases in solemn proceedings are in line with agreed targets" and "Agree with the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service opportunities for managing how domestic abuse cases are progressed within Scotland, including the consideration of Domestic Abuse courts and case management solutions where a Domestic Abuse Court is not considered appropriate".

"'Court waiting times are in line with targets'- any action which can be taken to reduce waiting times and the stress which this can place on family and victims is welcome"

- Third Sector and Representative Body for Professionals/Trade Union

"We believe that there needs to be increased awareness amongst those working in the legal system of the impact of domestic abuse on women and children. Although there has been some progress, we still need to move right away from a culture where women are criticised or judged for their behaviour or "choices" when in a domestic abuse situation."

- Representative Body for Professionals/Trade Union

Respondents were also particularly supportive of the action around sharing lessons from the "safe and together" model of child protection. A number of them spoke of having used it effectively, and wanted the action strengthened beyond "sharing lessons" to rolling the programme out more widely across Scotland.

"The action on Safe & together is welcome. However - S&T is evidenced-based and there is now enough experience of it in Scotland to know it works and provide a key element of the response to ensure children and families are safe. So 'sharing lessons' is no longer good enough - the action should be strengthen to indicate support for the national implementation of S&T and indicate how the Government plan to support this."

- Violence Against Women / Gender Based Violence Partnership

There was support for the action "Consider how learning from the National Trauma Training Framework can be incorporated to better inform the development of services, and identify leadership in the justice system to take this forward". It was felt that a better understanding of trauma was vital, across all services and sectors that work with women affected by violence. It was felt that it was important to improve links to trauma specific services in mental health and in the third sector. It was felt that the NHS Education Scotland ( NES)Transforming Trauma Knowledge and Skills Framework was "a useful evidence based starting point for considering staff and service development." - Other Public Body. And that it could support a number of other priority 3 actions. E.g. "medics against violence" by ensuring that all staff are able to recognise and respond effectively to people affected by trauma; the actions around forensic examination, and improving the experience of vulnerable witnesses to reduce the risk of re-traumatisation of those who have experienced sexual violence and vulnerable witnesses.

"Recognition of trauma and how it manifests is crucial for any service working in the violence against women sector."

- Third Sector

In relation to forensic examination services:

"Individuals accessing this service will, by definition, have recently experienced sexual violence, and are likely to be vulnerable to re-traumatisation… It is well recognised that the way in which both physical and verbal evidence is taken from victims at this sensitive stage has the capacity to significantly affect the longer term outcomes in terms of psychological wellbeing. These principles of trauma informed practice should be adopted in so far as possible into every aspect of the victim's experience of the examination process."

Other Public Body, including Executive Agencies, NDPBs, NHS etc.

There was also support for the action to "Ensure that commissioned training resources of local authority housing and homelessness hubs incorporate domestic abuse competence", as it was noted that women and children experiencing domestic abuse will come into contact with a range of services, including housing, and it is important that their cases are handled appropriately.

"[Our] members were particularly supportive of: "Ensure that commissioned training resources of local authority housing and homelessness hubs incorporate domestic abuse competence" – [our] members were encouraged to see this action in the plan, given the potentially important role that other services, such as housing, can play in identifying underlying domestic abuse issues and linking women in to relevant support services. There may be benefit in expanding this action further, to include other services e.g. substance misuse services, mental health services."

- Third Sector

Specialist Services

Under specialist services, there was particular support for the action to "Initiate an independent review of how national and local specialist services for women and children experiencing gender based violence are commissioned, and how we can ensure quality and sustainability of service", as it was felt that high quality services are essential, as is consistency of service provision across Scotland.

"We particularly support this action as we are aware that services for women and children are not uniform across local authority areas in Scotland. There should be access to prevention, support and recovery services in every local authority area, for every woman and child who needs it. We cannot over emphasise the importance of effective support to recover from domestic abuse as a key factor in preventing it's recurrence."

- Representative Body for Professionals/Trade Union

"A good quality strategic approach to commissioning can bring benefits to both service providers and service users since it ensures that people have access to the right support at the right time in the right place. This approach also presents an opportunity for collaborative working across social work and social care and the third sector."

- Third Sector and Representative Body for Professionals/Trade Union

There was also support for the action to "Commission the development of a sustainable model of training around gender based violence for public and third sector services". Respondents supported the idea of sustainable training, that would promote collaboration across the public and third sector. It was also suggested that the training should include the key messages from the Safe and Together model.

"[We] are particularly pleased to see the commissioning of a sustainable model of training around GBV for public and third sector services and would hope that the Government will utilise the skills and knowledge of specialist services in the development and delivery of this as a long term investment at a local level."

- Third Sector

"'Commission the development of a sustainable model of training around gender based violence for public and third sector services' – [Our organisation] is keen to support the development of the model of training and to promote collaborative working and training across sectors in order to enhance integrated services."

- Third Sector

There was also support for the action "Consider the findings from the National Advocacy Scoping Exercise commissioned to help understand the provision of services in this area with the aim to determine where the provision of services could be extended and improved", as advocacy services were seen as important. It was mentioned that there is a gap in provision of advocacy services, particularly for children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse, and that specialist services for children and young people are required. "Soft advocacy" which combines emotional and practical support with advocacy was also highlighted as important.

"[We] are pleased that the finding from the National Advocacy Scoping Exercise will be considered in order to identify where services could be extended and improved. This project has significantly improved the experience that survivors navigating the justice system have and has strengthened the communication between local services."

- Third Sector

There was also support for "Develop the Scottish Women's Rights Centre as a model for legal services, consider the currently unmet need for victims of gender based violence and the appropriate model of support for women, children and young people experiencing violence" as "the establishment of the centre has provided a valuable resource for both practitioners and for women who access the service." – Third Sector

Integrated services

There was support for the two actions included under integrated services, as multi-agency working and consistency across Scotland were seen as important for supporting women affected by violence against women.

"Support local VAWP in their improvement journey – [We] recognise that the structure and position of VAWPs vary across Scotland. We would support any action which supports all VAWPs to have a strong and representative voice within their local communities."

- Third Sector

Other

Of the "other" comments made in relation to priority 3, the most frequently mentioned was the importance of early identification and intervention, in order to protect women and children. It was felt that all agencies had an important role to play in this.

"Early identification and intervention is essential to eliminating violence and its negative consequences in women and children's lives. It is vital that services that come into daily contact with women, children and young people are able to identify those at risk and offer an appropriate, safe and consistent response. Professionals within Early Learning and Childcare can contribute towards this action, but would need appropriate support and training in recognising and dealing with such concerns."

- Representative Body for Professionals/Trade Union

"The focus on improving identification and responses to women and children affected by all forms of VAWG is very welcome. However - this cannot be something that sits with specialist services alone - this is something that all services (public and voluntary agencies) must be part of. The aim needs to be ' VAWG is everyone's responsibility'."

- Violence Against Women / Gender Based Violence Partnership

Priority 3 actions that aren't supported

Q11 Please tell us about any priority 3 actions that you don't agree with.

Some respondents said that there were no priority 3 actions that they disagreed with/they agreed with them all. Table A8 in Annex 1, shows the actions and areas that respondents disagreed with, and the numbers of comments given.

In some cases, where respondents disagreed with an action, it was because they felt that it did not go far enough and because they felt that it should be strengthened, rather than because they fundamentally disagreed with the action.

"There are several key actions in the delivery plan whereby it is noted you will 'share the learning' (Safe and Together P24), 'continue to look at' (Perpetrator Programmes P26) 'consult on how to embed' (Multi-agency structures to support high risk victims of domestic abuse P25), 'consider the findings' of (National Advocacy Scoping Exercise p24). We would welcome a stronger commitment and emphasis on implementation at a national level to drive forward improvement and to ensure that these areas are adequately resourced."

- Violence Against Women / Gender Based Violence Partnership

Actions which were specifically highlighted as not going far enough/needing to be strengthened included:

  • Share lessons from the "Safe and Together‟ model of child protection in a domestic abuse setting, encouraging a common understanding that perpetrators of abuse should be assessed and held accountable on their parenting choices which includes the perpetration of domestic abuse
  • Ensure that commissioned training resources of local authority housing and homelessness hubs incorporate domestic abuse competence
  • Develop the Scottish Women's Rights Centre as a model for legal services, consider the currently unmet need for victims of gender based violence and the appropriate model of support for women, children and young people experiencing violence
  • Consider the findings from the National Advocacy Scoping Exercise commissioned to help understand the provision of services in this area with the aim to determine where the provision of services could be extended and improved
  • Consult on how to embed consistent and effective operation of multi-agency structures to support high risk victims of domestic abuse

Public Services

Respondents who disagreed with the action around "Medics Against Violence" questioned why this particular programme had been singled out, when it was one amongst many, and it was suggested that reference to the NHS Violence Against Women Strategy, and reference to the wide range of training undertaken within the NHS would be more helpful.

"Although it is clearly the case that Medics Against Violence do important work, it should also be acknowledged they are not the only ones and their work should be linked to the NHS VAW strategy"

- Violence Against Women / Gender Based Violence Partnership

Amongst those who disagreed with the action to "Develop the health service response to preventing and tackling violence against women using the World Health Organisation's resolution on gender based violence as a framework", there was an ask that children were explicitly mentioned in the action, and a request that any such response include "gendered analysis and is trauma informed".

The National Trauma Framework was criticised for using a medical model rather than a social model, and it was suggested that a social model was more appropriate and effective for survivors of domestic or sexual abuse.

It was suggested that the action around strengthening the social work response to domestic abuse should be widened out to include all agencies and a wide range of professionals, for example health visitors, early learning and childcare staff and teachers.

Specialist Services

There was some disagreement around the action to "Commission the development of a sustainable model of training around gender based violence for public and third sector services", and the fact that it sat under the specialist services heading. It was suggested that it would be better sitting under "public services", as it was noted that public services have a duty to ensure that staff are highly trained and able to respond to all forms of violence against women, and that this was not being properly acknowledged by locating this action within "specialist services".

"We are unclear as to why the training focus in the document is included in the specialist services section. Public services have a duty to ensure staff are highly trained and able to respond to all forms of VAW… We believe that a focus on training should be located within the public sector part of the framework, acknowledging that specialist services have a key role to play in identifying areas of training need based on survivor views and experiences."

- Violence Against Women / Gender Based Violence Partnership

Actions that are missing/should be added to priority 3

Q12 Are there any actions that you think are missing under priority 3?

Some respondents said that they could not identify any gaps under priority 3. Others identified a range of actions that they thought were missing and suggestions for additional things to be added in under priority 3, as can be seen in table A9 in Annex 1. Some of the gaps related to identified actions, but where respondents felt that these actions could go further or that more clarity was required around them. One of the most commonly mentioned gaps was the need for violence against women training for professionals.

Public Services

A number of the "public services" gaps related to actions which respondents felt should go further. In some cases it was felt that where domestic abuse was referenced in an action, this should be widened out to include all forms of violence against women and girls. For example it was felt that the action around strengthening social work's response to domestic abuse, needed to include all forms of violence against women and girls, and also childhood sexual abuse.

Similarly the action "Ensure that commissioned training resources of local authority housing and homelessness hubs incorporate domestic abuse competence" was supported but some respondents wanted that training extended to include all forms of violence against women. In addition there was a specific ask for it to include LGBT awareness training, to better support and meet the needs of LGBT people, with one LGBT charity reflecting on research they had carried out with young people and professionals in this area.

"Commissioned training resources of local authority and housing and homelessness hubs incorporate domestic abuse competence - they should also include competence on other areas such as sexual violence, HBV [Honour Based Violence], forced marriage and FGM [Female Genital Mutilation]."

- Third Sector

"The activity on commissioned training for housing and homelessness services must include LGBT domestic abuse and LGBT awareness training… Professionals across the housing and homelessness sector rated their confidence to support LGBT people in their service as very low. Those who scored themselves higher had received LGBT training."

- Third Sector

Respondents also wanted the action to "Develop options for funding supported housing, including domestic abuse refuge providers, to ensure that they continue to receive appropriate resources for their work" to go further, to ensure that women have access to accommodation that appropriately meets their needs. It was noted that generic homelessness services would come into contact with women who had experienced gender based violence and that they needed to be able to appropriately support these women.

"We would support the development of funding options that enable all women who have experienced abuse and violence to access appropriate and safe supported accommodation (when appropriate) that is tailored to their needs. Refuge provision, although vital, is only one part of this picture."

- Third Sector

There was a comment relating to the action to "Share lessons from the 'Safe and Together' model of child protection, that there should be more focus on the perpetrator's accountability for their choices and actions when it comes to arranging child contact, and that more consideration should be given to the quality of such contact. There was a suggestion that parental rights for contact with their child sometimes supersede the rights of the child and that this must be addressed.

In relation to the action concerned with improving the experience of vulnerable witnesses, specific reference was made to people with learning disabilities and the need to support them appropriately to enable them to give evidence in court.

"In response to improving the experiences of vulnerable witnesses, [our organisation] suggests further investment into appropriate adults that have specific training and experience in supporting people with learning disabilities in the criminal justice system to make sure that their accounts are represented accurately and sensitively."

- Academic/research

There were a number of other justice related suggestions for actions respondents felt were missing. These included women as offenders, as it was noted that women with histories of violence and abuse are over-represented in the prison system, and are both victims as well as offenders. As such actions were suggested including:

"An action around developing training which promotes a gender-informed approach to working with women in the criminal justice system… An action around provision of suitable accommodation - The Angiolini Commission on Women Offenders (2012, p30) noted "One of the key issues highlighted to the Commission by practitioners and women offenders was the lack of suitable accommodation, especially on release from prison. Significant concerns were raised about the appropriateness of hostels and many women talked about the difficulty of managing in the chaotic environment of hostels and the high levels of drug abuse and violence.""

- Third Sector

Concern was raised about the use of "floating trials" (where the trial could start on any day in a given week rather than on a specific date) in rape cases and the additional distress that this can cause victims, and it was suggested that there should be an action to tackle this.

"the use of floating trials in rape cases is now routine, and is causing significant distress for complainers. This should be addressed to give complainers more certainty about when and where their trial will be."

- Third Sector

Justice related actions requested included:

  • A feedback system for victims who have experienced the criminal justice system.
  • Piloting the recording of rape complainers' statement to the police, to be used as evidence in chief during any subsequent trial.
  • Introducing protections within the civil justice system e.g. a bar on direct cross examination in rape / stalking / domestic abuse cases and a guarantee of anonymity.
  • More unification between civil and criminal justice systems – "Were there less of a gulf between the systems, a woman who has reported her ex-partner for domestic abuse may also have her child contact case heard by the same Sheriff. This would bridge the gap between these systems, ease their trauma and ensure the Sheriff hearing the case would have more information with which to make their decision." – Third Sector
  • Emphasise protection of privacy for victims in court in relation to e.g. sexual history, and sexual orientation
  • Provision of advocacy support for children, particularly in child contact cases.
  • Specialist risk assessment in civil courts where there are disputes over contact and concerns about domestic abuse.
  • The impact of direct cross examination on victims of GBV should be examined and protective measures should be put in place.

There were some missing actions highlighted around health as well. It was felt that the NHS response to violence against women needed to be strengthened. It was noted that there was no mention of routine enquiry within this priority. It was felt that all NHS staff needed to know that there was a clear pathway of referral if they felt that someone was at risk. Cultural competence was also mentioned in relation to improving care for minority ethnic groups.

"The actions related to the NHS require substantial expansion. The NHS has had considerable investment in its sensitive enquiry programme and this needs to be developed further. We would like to see more detail about how the health service and health board's will further develop its response to preventing and tackling VAW, how this will be implemented and when."

- Academic/research

It was also noted that the NHS is much more than a clinical environment, providing healthcare to individuals, and that more needs to be said about the prevention role played by the NHS and Health and Social Care Partnerships ( HSCPs), particularly the work undertaken by health improvement and public health staff.

In relation to the actions around forensic examination services, it was suggested that the impact of rationalisation of the distribution of locations where forensic examinations services are available on victims of sexual assault should be examined.

Other public services comments included that there was a need for public services to be better at spotting women at risk of violence against women, and intervening appropriately. In particular, it was mentioned that it would be helpful to have an action aimed at extending awareness in the Early Learning and Childcare sector to support early identification and early intervention for women and children.

In response to the action to "develop draft violence against women quality standards for public services responding to victims and survivors, it was suggested that the recently published Health and Social Care Standards could be useful in informing specific actions and avoiding duplication.

There was also a comment that services should not be split into public services and specialist services, as it was pointed out that public services such as the NHS do provide specialist services for women affected by violence against women. E.g. NHS psychologists trained in addressing trauma and abuse and midwifes trained to deal with the impacts of FGM.

"There was a concern that the distinction between 'specialist services' and 'public services' in the plan made it read as if public services were not specialist services. It was felt that it is important to highlight that it is not just third sector organisations that deliver specialist services but that the NHS and other public services also deliver specialist services for people affected by VAWG and the plan should hold them to account for doing so."

- Violence Against Women / Gender Based Violence Partnership

Specialist Services

The importance of advocacy provision for women and children and young people affected by violence was highlighted, including for women who have learning disabilities.

It was felt that more information was needed around the action to "Initiate an independent review of how national and local specialist services for women and children experiencing gender based violence are commissioned, and how we can ensure quality and sustainability of service." It was also suggested that funding and resourcing needed to be looked at as part of this.

Integrated services

Under integrated services, it was felt that an action should have been included to fund and support Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences ( MARACs) consistently across Scotland. It was also noted that multi-agency working ought to be improved in relation to forms of VAW that are wider than domestic abuse.

"There is a need to strengthen the action around 'consulting' on how to ensure high quality MARACs are operating across Scotland. Specifically, we would welcome a commitment in the Delivery Plan to ensure that all MARACs have the resources they need to operate in a high quality way. This is likely to include funding for MARAC coordinators/ administrators in every area."

- Violence Against Women / Gender Based Violence Partnership

"Scottish Government has supported the roll out and development of the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment (Marac) model, recognising its central role in bridging the siloes between agencies to make victims and their children safer, sooner. Embedding this process in England and Wales over the last decade has reduced the time it takes victims at highest risk of murder to get help from 5 years to 2.5. Given the evidence and support for this model, we feel it is important to reference it here given that WholeLives highlighted that it currently takes 4 years in Scotland for victims at highest risk to get help"

- Third Sector

"They [our members] also highlighted the importance of multi-agency working in relation to support for victims of other forms of abuse and are keen to see better integration of services, so that a more holistic approach to support provision is taken."

- Third Sector

It was suggested that there should be a specific action around the supporting community planning partnerships ( CPPs) to deliver appropriate approaches to violence against women and girls to improve their outcomes. The importance of collaborative and effective leadership amongst locally elected representatives and leaders of CPPs was highlighted.

Other Suggestions

It was felt that this priority (and the Delivery Plan more generally) should include all forms of VAW, including honour based violence ( HBV), Female Genital Mutilation ( FGM), forced marriage, rape, child sexual abuse, human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation ( CSE), stalking and harassment. It was felt that too many actions specially referenced domestic abuse, rather than encompassing all forms of VAW.

"There is a need to move away from this silo approach to violence against women. There is a danger of conflating VAWG with domestic abuse to the exclusion of rape; sexual violence; sexual abuse; FGM; CSE; Forced and child marriage; prostitution, trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation; stalking and harassment."

- Violence Against Women / Gender Based Violence Partnership

"The majority of the actions pointed within this priority are focussed on domestic abuse. Sexual crimes are addressed exclusively through forensic medical examinations and there is no mention of stalking, human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and honour based violence, all of which require an improved and robust response. The spectrum of violence against women is not represented."

- Third Sector

The need to train professionals across the public sector about responding to VAW was highlighted. It was felt that training needed to be wider than domestic abuse and include the full spectrum of VAW, including honour based violence and women who are affected by prostitution. Training in relation to the "Safe and Together Model " was mentioned, as was the need for more training around LGBT issues and learning disability awareness. Professions who ought to have access to VAW training were mentioned and included: social workers, health workers, staff in homelessness hubs (beyond domestic abuse), teachers, sheriffs, judges and court reporters.

"The 'Public Services' actions that focus on training should not be restricted to domestic abuse competence or just housing, but to competence in all forms of gender based violence through mandatory training provision for all key services."

- Violence Against Women / Gender Based Violence Partnership

There were some comments relating to the role that education could play in this priority, these included ensuring that VAWG messages are embedded into Curriculum for Excellence ( CfE), schools taking a zero-tolerance approach to gender-based bullying, and the role of teachers in supporting children who have experienced abuse.

"We will be interested to see the VAW quality standards for public services responding to victims and survivors, as teachers often support children who have experienced abuse, and teachers can sometimes be the first person to whom this has been disclosed."

- Representative Body for Professionals/Trade Union

The importance of the relationship between a professional and a women or child was mentioned. It was noted that in order to competently identify violence against women and children professionals need to be approachable, trustworthy, who listen believe and respond. These skills need to be fostered across all professionals in all sectors. When working with children, children need to feel empowered and supported in order to disclose information.

There were also requests for an action relating to stalking, as it was felt that this was missing from the Delivery plan.


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