12.6 Known Offenders and Others who may Pose a Risk to Children

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Policy last reviewed in September 2022.

Date of next review September 2025.


This section provides procedures in relation to the response required to individuals who are known or suspected to have caused significant harm to children (a person under the age of 18).


A ‘Person Posing a Risk to Children’ includes people who are under 18 but excludes younger children displaying non-exploitative sexual exploration. Where this is undetermined or unclear these procedures should be followed. When this procedure is used in relation to a person under 18 posing a risk,  Children who harm other children should be considered.


Offending history is an important factor in such assessments but it is not the only one.


Practitioners need always to exercise professional judgement and remember that there are also other types of offences where a child may be the intended victim but where the primary offence is not a child specific offence e.g. telecommunications offences, harassment etc.

Click here to view Appendix - List of Offences (Home Office Circular 16/2005) 



Indicators of people who may pose a risk to children include:

  • Those found guilty of an offence under schedule 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933;
  • Individuals known to have been cautioned / warned / reprimanded in relation to an offence against children;
  • Individuals against whom there is a previous finding in civil proceedings e.g. Sexual Harm Prevention Orders or care proceedings;
  • Those about whom there has been a previous S.47 enquiry which came to the conclusion that there had been abuse;
  • An individual who has admitted past abuse of a child;
  • Others whose past or present behaviour gives rise to a reason to suspect that a child may be at risk of significant harm e.g. a  history of domestic violence and other serious assaults;
  • Reports of low level allegations or those with inconclusive findings;
  • Offenders against adults who are notified to the local authority, because the prison or probation services are concerned about the possible risk to children;
  • Offenders who come to the attention of the MAPPA;
  • For risk factors see Children who Harm Other Children - Recognition of Abuse for Referral to Children's Social Care  and Sexually Active Children, Assessment and Recognition.



On notification or discovery of a person identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, to children, children’s social care must treat this information as a child protection referral.


A S.47 enquiry must be instigated if the offender / person who poses a threat, is living in a household with children, has contact with children or poses a risk to children in the area.


Checks (including with the prison service that may hold important information) must be undertaken to establish:

  • Any children believed to have been abused by the individual in the past;
  • Other children who are believed to have been in contact with the individual in the past and may therefore have been at risk;
  • Children with whom the individual is currently in contact in a family or work/voluntary setting;
  • Children (or groups of children) with whom the individual may seek contact, such as children attending a school located near the home of an offender known to target such children;
  • For young people where there are concerns they are harming other children see Children who Harm Other Children, Response to Referrals.

All assessments of risk must consider the:

  • Needs of the children affected;
  • Level and pattern of abusing or offending behaviour, including behaviour thought to have occurred, but which has not led to a criminal conviction;
  • Level of protection which is likely to be provided by other significant adults;
  • Ability of the young people to protect themselves.

A child protection conference must be convened if the threshold criteria are met and if any child(ren) require continuing protection, therapeutic intervention or family support services.

Risk Assessment


Prior to any decision by children’s social care to disclose information, a risk assessment must be undertaken, in order to establish what risks the alleged offender or suspected offender poses to children in the prevailing circumstances and the risks associated with disclosure. The welfare and safety of children is the paramount consideration.


The generic term ‘adult or young person identified as posing a risk’ is used but clearly an assessment of risk must be based both on the actual offences committed and on other soft information that may be available.


The actual offence(s) for a convicted offender may not place the person in a high risk category in terms of likelihood of future offending or degree of risk posed to children. Staff must be alert to the potential for future risk and to the fact that an offending history gives only partial information and is based on what an adult has been successfully prosecuted for rather than on the full extent of past activity.  


Adults or young people who pose a risk may have contact with children both within and external to the family systems where they live. Seeking information on the level of contact with children generally must be an overt part of working with such an adult or young people and written agreements must be put in place on the level and type of contact allowed. All professionals working with the family must be aware that such an agreement exists and its content.  Any evidence that suggests a breach of this agreement must be taken seriously and seen as information about a potential increase in risk. This information will come from both the adult or young people him/herself, from partners and from the network. As far as possible information that is given must be checked with independent sources and the need to do this must be made explicit to the adult or young people who poses a risk and to his/her partner or other relevant family member. In order to gain information about levels of risk posed, sufficient information must be shared with partners or family members and with the network so that informed assessments of risk can be reached by other adults in the network.


A number of known and suspected offenders will be subject to assessment already, with the possibility of treatment follow up. This is an early opportunity to identify the network and seek interagency agreement as to who might need to be informed of the potential risk and how this might be done.


Some adults or young people who pose a risk may deliberately target women with children or seek to have their own biological children as a means of gaining access to a wider circle of children. Some women e.g. those with a learning difficulty may be particularly vulnerable. Thus as part of child protection plans drawn up to protect children who live in the household of such an adult or young person, active consideration must be given to other children who come into contact via friendship, baby sitting etc.  This must include friendships etc with the partner or family member.


The role of the partner in protecting both children in the household and that wider group of children who have contact is crucial and must form part of the risk assessment of the couple. This expectation of the partner acting as a protective adult must be explicitly acknowledged by all parties and by the partner him/herself. Staff should remember that this does not offer a complete guarantee that a partner will act in a protective way as the adult who poses a risk is likely to exert a powerful influence on their partner’s reasoning and judgement in relation to what is perceived as risky.


Assessment of risk must be a dynamic process that is ongoing. For example do children in the household or the system become more vulnerable as they get older? Are boys or girls more likely to be targeted?  Thus possible changes and developments in networks must form part of ongoing monitoring and work with the adult. The explicit question ‘which children are coming into contact with this person and on what basis?’ must be checked regularly.


Some children may be subject to Child Protection Plans because of contact with an adult or young person who may pose a risk. Monitoring visits must be regular and purposeful, maintaining an overt focus on the possibility of risk. Managers must be alert to the fact that workers may not be able to hold this need for ongoing vigilance in mind and be able to act as a further checking mechanism by raising the issue in supervision and by ensuring via auditing that attention is being paid to the possibility of the adult or young person gaining increasing access to children.


If workers are unsure about what to share and who to share it with they must discuss this with their line manager who should in turn seek appropriate advice from someone with sufficient expertise.

This page is correct as printed on Friday 24th of May 2024 04:43:27 PM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.