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Authorities failed boy, and public

Authorities failed boy, and public

Friday 17 February 2023

Authorities failed boy, and public

Friday 17 February 2023

A young man - and members of the public - were failed after numerous opportunities to manage the risks he posed from his birth through to adulthood were missed by multiple local authorities.

A Serious Case Review found "opportunities were missed to provide support and protection" for him, and also "effectively manage the risk he posed others".

The report by the Islands Safeguarding Children Partnership has been anonymised and he is referred to as 'John' throughout.

John had been in contact with some local agencies since he was young after he displayed challenging behaviour both at home and at school, and due to the "harmful pathway" he was considered by those authorities to be on.

That pathway was said to include concerns about "potentially harmful sexualised behaviour. However, nothing was successfully done by any of the relevant services John was engaged with - which included Children & Family Community Services, Police and the Children’s Convenor - before he committed serious sexual offences. 

Birth and early childhood

John and his mother were in contact with some agencies from his birth due to concerns over her mental health and her concerns over managing his behaviour.

pre school shutter stock

Pictured: John was identified at a very young age as having poor concentration and impulse control.

Concerns "steadily emerged about John having neurodiversity issues that required regular and ongoing support". His poor concentration and impulse control had been identified at pre-school and he was recorded on the Special Educational Needs Register. Additional support was given and he had good attendance at school during his early years. However, the Serious Case Review has found that John felt the support "was insufficient to help him remain in the classroom on many occasions and that some school staff did not appear to understand his needs or how to manage him".

John was diagnosed with neurodiversity issues while a pre-teen and the Serious Case Review found he "could clearly have been categorised as a Child in Need in his earlier years and benefitted from structured support with a multi-agency footing".

GP doctor health

Pictured: John was medicated from an early age. 

The SCR said "an earlier coordinated multi-agency approach, with a strong lead, would likely have provided opportunities for oversight and support in an attempt to steer John onto a more positive adolescent pathway".


Through his pre-teenage and older adolescence years, John’s conduct became "increasingly more worrying in terms of harmful sexual behaviours".

Many meetings were held by different agencies about John and the risks he posed but where risks were recognised it was noted that ‘someone else’ would be doing the work.

The Review reports that children who display harmful sexual behaviours should be subject to child protection processes including individualised Strategy Meetings in their own right. The child can then be viewed as a whole rather than in relation to alleged offences they may have committed.


Pictured: John was said to be treated as an offender before he had offended.

However, the SCR found that many agencies dealing with John were crisis driven and focused on victim safety, as opposed to interventions to support and protect John, who was always treated as an offender. 

A silo mentality operated where John was concerned, particularly during his adolescent years when concerns began to escalate.

Information was not shared across agencies and by the time John’s conduct had reached a criminal threshold and his sexualised behaviours had escalated, he was already being viewed as an offender – and the SCR states at that time it was too late to look at John's unmet needs and the origins of his behaviours.


The SCR gives no details about John's age, circumstances now, or any offences he has committed, but it describes how he has "reflected on his adolescent years".


Pictured: The Serious Case Review does not state what offence John has committed or how old he is now.

He said he was "bored" which led to him getting into trouble, taking more risks and agencies being too lenient with him.

Both he and his mother were complimentary about agencies and individuals who had spent time listening to her concerns and getting to know John with the example given of some psychiatric nurses.

Both felt those in authority, such as the police and criminal justice agencies, had not done enough to prevent him from getting into trouble, with John admitting he would consciously push the boundaries to see their response.


Safeguarding review recommendations



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