Achieving Best Evidence
Achieving Best Evidence training.
Robin Watts’ CPD accredited ABE course, offered by RAW Training, is a 5-day intensive pass or fail course that concentrates on the whole process of forensic interviewing of children and adults. It explores the entire process from planning to the conclusion. Professional actors portray child victims/witnesses realistically and respond credibly to the candidate who will interview them allowing candidates to test their skills and approaches in a convincing but ‘safe’ environment. “I was mind blown by what I learnt on the ABE course. It made me totally rethink how I question children, and in fact, anybody. I had been in frontline social work for nine years and have been involved in many Section 47 cases, yet I was completely unaware I was asking children and young people leading questions” Lauren Blighton, Duty Team Manager
Of course, it’s never as simple as purely the re-phrasing of questions; Achieving Best Evidence is much more complex than this. When I teach groups of social workers, I walk them through the entire forensic interviewing process and a far more open way of questioning is taught and examined using role play. This results in the input of the interviewer being minimal and reduces the potential for the child to say what he or she thinks we want to hear, as opposed to what is real and true.
Most social workers will be aware of ABE; the forensic interviewing of children, intimidated, vulnerable and disabled adults for criminal investigations and the court process. But there are still some misconceptions over the exact role of the social worker within the interview process.
Let me try and dismiss some myths. A lot of people think that an ABE interview is a police officer-led interview. This is not necessarily the case. The criminal investigation is, of course, police led and this is endorsed by recommendation 99 of the Laming Report into the death of Victoria Climbié. In the manual, this is explained in paragraph 2.22. However, the same paragraph states that, this being the case, does not mean that the police should take the lead in the interview, and explains that provided both have been trained in accordance to this manual, there is no reason why either the police officer or the social worker cannot take the lead. My view is that, where possible, the child chooses who takes the lead; whether this is by a direct request, or how and who the child responds to the best on the initial meeting(s) with the child. Of course, other factors can have a bearing too.
From my experience of working in this field for around 20 years now, I know there are some excellent police interviewers of children. However, there are some equally skilled social worker interviewers as well. Despite this, the social worker very rarely takes the lead in this type of interview. Most will deflect to the police and not put themselves forward to interview the child about the crime they have suffered or witnessed. As safeguarding professionals, we are there for the child and aiming to give them the best possible service we can. We need to be able to objectively decide who is the best lead interviewer for the child and then plan the interview around them (and not us).
How much priority is given to planning the interview is another concern of mine. Chapter 2 of the guidance report is around the planning of this ABE interview. It is quite an extensive chapter, and the phrase “fail to plan, plan to fail”, comes to mind here. How many interviews are conducted without a proper strategy meeting? How many times do we arrange the interview time and place based around our needs rather than the child’s? Do we consider their individual needs? Areas around culture, religion, medical needs, timings, age, gender, and more besides. Are they considered? If not, are we really Achieving Best Evidence?
The interview itself is vital to the investigation, and subsequent conviction, of child abusers. A poorly planned and conducted interview can have devastating effects on the victim. We all know convictions for child abuse are low and a poor interview can contribute to this.
I would ask you to think for a moment about how you question children and carers. Does this type of question sound familiar? “Can you tell me about that?”, “Can you remember?”, “Can you tell me a little about……” These are the type of questions that can lead to inaccurate and insufficient information.
The best interviews I have witnesses empower the child to tell their account using a forensic questioning style, which I teach.
Think about how you now ask a question. “Can you tell me a little about…..” This is a good example of a closed question that is inaccurate. Firstly “Can you” closes a good open question, they could simply say “No”, and inaccurate as you don’t want to know a ‘little’ you want to know a lot. Change this to “tell me about…..” Then keep open from then on. Use silences so your interviewee fills that silence, nod, smile, echo, or simply use “okay, go on”.
Further reading The guidance on Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings can be found at cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/best_evidence_in_criminal_proceedings.pdf
Designated Safeguarding Children Officer: Advanced Course
To enable participants to become familiar with the role and responsibilities of the designated safeguarding children’s officer and develop competence and confidence in carrying out this role.
By the end of the course participants will be able to:
Describe the role of the designated safeguarding children officer and state key areas of responsibility
State their own values regarding child abuse and the impact of these on professional practice.
Describe the key legislation and guidance underpinning the organisation’s policy for responding to concerns about a child’s safety or welfare
Decide what steps the organisation needs to take to ensure the safety and welfare of children and young people with whom it has contact
State the blocks inhibiting children from disclosing abuse and respond effectively to a child who does disclose
State blocks to staff reporting concerns and how to overcome these
Make appropriate decisions about the action to take when informed of a concern about a child or young person
State what is likely to happen following a referral to children’s social care (or equivalent) and what further role they may have
Explain the issues in connection with recording and sharing of information, including that of confidentiality
Demonstrate an awareness of the emotional dimension of safeguarding work and identify a network for personal support
State the main tenets of their organisation’s policy and procedures
Understand the procedures in the country the organisation is based in (for International Schools)
Responsibilities in respect of FGM, Child Sexual Exploitation and Radicalisation and Extremism.
Basic Child Protection:
For all staff, irrespective of their position in the organisation to have a basic understanding of safeguarding children, and child protection and what their responsibilities are in this arena.
The course objectives are:
Understand broad definitions of child abuse and neglect
Understand their duties in respect of Radicalisation, FGM and CSE
Deal appropriately with disclosures
Have an awareness of how a child’s race, culture, gender and ability inform an assessment of their needs
Act appropriately on suspicion or knowledge that a child may be at risk of suffering harm
Understand the Child Protection system and professional roles within their organisation and the Country.
Understand how discrimination can impact on children and families in the child protection system and to develop anti – oppressive practice
Understand child abuse victim and offender behaviour
Understand how to respond and speak to children who have disclosed or are suspected of being abused.
The Advanced is 6 hours, and designed for senior members of staff as well as the ‘Designated Person’. School Safeguarding Governors should also attend these courses. The Basic CPD course is 6 hours, however basic level 1 can be delivered in a 3-hour session, also a bespoke course can be agreed upon and delivered depending on the needs of the organisation this is a whole organisation staff training session.
Assessment Skills course. 2 Days
About the course:
This two day course encompasses how the social work practitioner approaches the CAF / Single Assessment process, what evidence to gather and how to ask the right questions to the service user to effectively carry out a concise, analytical and good quality assessment in a tight deadline. The course also covers how to deal with non-engaging families, high risk and manipulation on how to ensure you stay ‘safe’ and use your visits to the family homes most efficiently in the use of role plays and group discussions. It also highlights latest legislation and assessment frameworks, delegates will learn from real-life case studies to gain an understanding of emergency powers and learn more about the multi-agency approach. The course will also help participants understand their own role in Section 47 enquiries, improve effective communication between partner agencies and develop risk assessment and analysis skills. Throughout the training, delegates will learn from real-life case studies, gain an understanding of emergency powers and learn more about the multi-agency approach.
· Understand thresholds and their impact on practice
· Identify the knowledge, skills and values required for analysis and the exercise of professional judgement in Child Protection Investigations.
· Critically analyse available information, form judgements, plan and make decisions to safeguard children
"This was a very good training course relevant to my role; I will be able to use this in my practice." N.H, Social Worker
Other Courses I offer:
S47 C.A. 1989 1 day course.
Radicalisation and extremism. Half day.
FGM. Half day.
School Governor safeguard training. 3
Interviewing Skills 3 hours
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