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JANICE FRANCE (Greater Manchester Probation)

JANICE FRANCE (Greater Manchester Probation)

COMMENDEE 2013-14: Probation Operations Manager: for contributions to safeguarding children and the prevention of child sexual exploitation. 


[Janice France gives her account of the work for which she won her Commendation]

I received a Butler Trust Commendation for developments in practice leading to the robust risk assessment and management of Child Sexual Exploitation perpetrators.  A thorough review of existing practices from pre-arrest stage to conviction and release, led to negotiations for greater inter-agency liaison establishing more extensive intelligence monitoring and gathering, advancing interventions for offenders in denial, plus consistency in support and controls for exploitative sexual offenders and victims.

In 2012 nine males from Rochdale were sentenced to between four and nineteen years in custody for sexual offences including rape, sexual activity, conspiracy to commit sexual activity and the first successful prosecution for trafficking of individuals within the UK, committed against vulnerable females aged between twelve and sixteen.  Rochdale Safeguarding Children Board requested all partner agencies complete a full gap analysis.  As local safeguarding lead, I drew evidence from known case management examples.   I examine what was the same/different between these and factors emerging from Operation Span.  This included a review of:

Pre-conviction work

  • Pre-sentence case management
  • Court liaison – Sentencing decisions
  • Information gathering – serious organised crime (pre and post sentence)

Post-conviction offender management

  • Ongoing risk management of gangs/groups
  • Working with denial in custody
  • Prison liaison

Victim contact

  • Sensitivity of work with victims – multi-agency approach
  • Need to engage with victims of CSE who themselves are perpetrators of either offences linked to grooming other victims; onset of offending correlating with abusive episodes; offences precipitated by negative attitudes towards individuals with characteristics similar to those of the perpetrators of their abuse.

Staff knowledge and experience

  • Recognition and response re CSE

The findings of the above highlighted that although a significant level of intelligence was known on a high number of potential perpetrators, little or nothing had been shared with probation.  Liaison with Police leads led to the development of greater information sharing pre-arrest to screen if known, as well as informing of the point of arrest.  This resulted in two cases having requirements of their orders revoked to impose more restrictive conditions and safeguard potentially vulnerable individuals.

Case study: nineteen year old male who was subject to a community order with attendance centre order and unpaid work. Information shared to suggest he was exploiting a fourteen year old girl, taking her to a house outside of the locality where he and three other males forced her to participate in sexual acts under the influence of alcohol and drugs.  Afraid of the consequences and unable to inform her parents for fear of shame, this became more regular.  The adult male attendance centre however took place on the same day as the juvenile one, there being opportunity for contact with further vulnerable females.  Immediately we suspended National Standards advising him that he needed to await allocation, knowing that his arrest was to be effected immediately.  Upon arrest and question he could then be spoken to as to risks posed within the alleged offending, leading to the assessment that the ACO was no longer suitable.  Upon return to Court for amendment a curfew was imposed and he voluntarily attended for supervision sessions to look at behaviours he considered to place himself at risk.

Case Study: male subject to abduction notice – although not convicted of sexual offences, gave opportunity to engage why he felt he had been “wrongly targeted” and put self at risk. Strengthening early intelligence sharing results in preventative work, reducing the likelihood of future offending.

Operation Span perpetrators were all sentenced without reports; in subsequent cases we instigated early Court liaison with a view to ensuring adjournments for reports to fully assess cases at the earliest opportunity.  This led to the imposition of indeterminate sentences for others due to the repeated nature of their offending.  Span perpetrators all remained in denial and continue to network with each other heightening risks when released into the community.  However all are subject to standard determinate sentences, some with short licences which may not allow for motivational work to address denial and allow for treatment programme intervention.

With regard to staff confidence, knowledge and skill, as lead operational manager I worked with the multi-agency training and development group to develop single and multi-agency briefings with regard to recognition and response re CSE.  Full staff briefings with regards to CSE including:

    • Useful definitions / information
    • Prevalence of CSE in local Boroughs?
    • Who is at risk?
    • Who might sexually exploit young people?
    • Recognition of risks & concerns
    • How to respond

Similarly needing to increase staff confidence across whole offices, 2 co-workers per case are identified and cases are allocated from point of first Court appearance as with lifers, allowing knowledge of offenders through the progression of the trial and beyond.  This also leads to the ability some consistency re knowledge of the case should one member of staff leave.

As with lifer and indeterminate sentenced prisoners, given the complexity of CSE offending perpetrated by large groups, I negotiated with the senior investigating officer from Span for a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Panel Meeting held allowing for the provision of full police information, similarly prisons to be aware of cell share issues and networking possibilities.  This has now been successfully negotiated for all similar cases in both Rochdale and Bury and it is hoped across the whole of Greater Manchester soon.  In addition to this early meeting prior to sentence planning, an annual meeting with all offender managers present is convened for intelligence sharing across the practitioner group.  This has increased knowledge of links between offenders and shared associates as well as individual offender perspectives/engagement.  This is chaired by the safeguarding operational manager.

Analysis of the initial sentence planning feedback resulted in the identification of all eight remaining in the UK were in complete denial.  The need therefore to develop structured work for deniers became imperative.  This is being fully progressed and implemented.

An analysis of offenders who themselves had been victims of CSE highlighted an additional need to work sensitively with victims who are now perpetrators; multi-agency approaches were key, however, the ability to address victimisation of one who had committed offences against Asian males – the onset of her offending correlating with the age she began being abused.  She herself is currently serving an IPP, however, is also a victim/witness in an upcoming case which impacts extensively on her emotional self management.  Not colluding why she holds such negative attitudes has been a challenge for some agencies, but similarly she has to demonstrate to the Parole Board that she is safe for release.  Complex case management examples are shared within practice development sessions to ensure holistic learning across the practitioner base.

Multi-agency learning and ongoing developments are progressed via participation in serious case review activity and CSE sub groups.

Work with prisons is also developing beyond cell sharing requests.  Mail monitoring highlighted concerns not just for contact with other members of the same group, but other network or group sexual offenders across the country.  We are currently awaiting the outcome and strategy adopted by a secondee to NOMS from CEOP who has undertaken an analysis of contacts made by a MAPPA level 3 from a different area.  It is hoped a similar strategy can be adopted (on a smaller scale) to monitor and evaluate internal prison risk management, as well as issues to be aware of and control against upon release.


[The following article appeared in issue 6 of the Butler Trust’s magazine, Inspire]

Janice France has won a Butler Trust Commendation for her outstanding work in working with Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) cases. While working as Acting Probation Operations Manager at Greater Manchester Probation Trust, she set about developing innovative and robust information-sharing and joint agency risk management for identified CSE perpetrators, that has contributed greatly to the local CSE strategy.

With the Trust under pressure from high profile court cases relating to CSE in Rochdale and a challenging inspection by OFSTED further raising the profile of safeguarding, Janice’s skills have been much in demand. Her involvement in a ‘gap analysis’ after the conviction of nine men for CSE offences – identifying areas of good practice and developments required to secure the protection of victims or potential victims – led to her reviewing practices surrounding the prosecution, including information on sharing protocols and risk management planning.

Identifying the potential correlation between offenders’ behaviours and their own experiences of sexual abuse led to Janice working on a more strategic approach to potential interventions, both in prison and the community, which allowed therapeutic work to be introduced to tackle the person’s victimisation as well as their own risks of offending.

As well as undertaking complex management reviews on serious safeguarding cases, she has trained staff on safeguarding issues, communicated practice developments and implemented important risk management practices – all alongside her ‘day job’ of managing a team of PO grade staff who are focused on higher risk.

‘She leads by example, modelling hard work, conscientiousness and integrity,’ said the Trust’s Director of Operations, Chris Noah, while Chief Executive Officer Roz Hamilton highlighted her capacity for innovation. ‘Janice’s commitment to public protection has resulted in new approaches to managing specific groups of offenders,’ he said.

These new approaches have resulted in robust practices being adopted in both the assessment and management of risk relating to CSE offences. Sharing protocols with the Police is leading to enhanced assessment procedures, while engaging with other local partners is leading to more robust holistic risk management and increasing opportunities for prevention work.


For more information: contact Greater Manchester ProbationProbation Service

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