The Request

Received on 22 January 2018

 
Dear FOI team,
 
I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to request the following information:
 
- The number of child abuse reports relating to British Council staff and/or third parties during the past 5 reporting years (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17)
- The countries/locations where each report of child abuse was made
- The action taken by the British Council in response to each of the reports of child abuse
 
Please note that the British Council Board of Trustees meeting minutes from July 2017 contains the following:
 
"They noted that 35 child abuse reports relating to staff and/or third parties were made in 2016/17, a significant increase on the previous reporting year."
 
I'm assuming therefore that this information is readily available and can be shared can with me.
 
Please provide the information electronically, ideally in .xls format.
 
If it's not possible to provide some of this information because it exceeds the cost of compliance limits identified in Section 12, please provide advice and assistance, under the Section 16 obligations of the Act, as to how I can refine my request.
 
Once you've received this request I'd be grateful if you could send me a confirmation email. If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact me via email and I will be happy to further clarify what I am asking for.
 
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.
 
 

Our Response

Responded on 19 February 2018

 
Case Reference: FOI_2018_06
 
19 February 2018
 
Dear
 
Thank you for your request for information dated 22 January 2018 concerning child abuse reports. Your request has been handled under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 and has been passed to me for reply.
 
For your ease of reference I have restated your request below in bold and have provided our response beneath.
 
- The number of child abuse reports relating to British Council staff and/or third parties during the past 5 reporting years (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17)
- The countries/locations where each report of child abuse was made
- The action taken by the British Council in response to each of the reports of child abuse
 
All child abuse reports are managed in accordance with the British Council global Child Protection Policy and Response Plan. The plan details the procedures to follow and is in line with the statutory HMG guidance contained in Working Together to Safeguard Children. 
 
During the past five reporting years the British Council has received 125 child abuse reports relating to staff and/or third parties. Of the 125 reports, 53 related to British Council staff and 72 to third parties. The reports have been submitted from across our global operations; with the highest number coming from EU Europe (21) , East Asia (21), South Asia (24) and MENA (23) regions.
 
All child abuse reports were investigated by the Child Protection Team. Of the 125 reports, 57 presented high level concerns and resulted in the below actions:
 
-  23 dismissals/contract terminations;
-  12 warnings; and
-  31 met the threshold for external referrals to competent/statutory authorities (police and/or children services). Of these 31 external referrals, 22 referrals were made outside of disciplinary action so as not to prejudice any investigations by such authorities.
 
For the remaining lower level concerns, risk assessments were undertaken and outcomes included, amongst others, no further action, monitoring and follow up and termination of partnerships with third parties.
 
Section 40(2) allows a public authority to withhold information relating to third parties if one of the conditions set out in section 40(3) is satisfied. Under the FOIA disclosure of this information would breach the fair processing principle contained in the Data Protection Act (DPA), where it would be unfair to that person or if it is confidential.
 
Disclosing information on individual cases would mean that individuals can be identified. Revealing sensitive personal data into the public domain would not be fair to those individuals and would contravene the data protection principles, therefore the exemption under section 40 (Personal data) sub-section (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies. 
 
Section 40 is an absolute exemption therefore is not subject to the public interest test.
 
I hope the information provided has been useful. 
 
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to: 
 
Information Governance Advisor (Disclosures)
Information Governance and Risk Management 
British Council
Bridgewater House
58 Whitworth Street
Manchester
M1 6BB 
 
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner for a decision at: 
 
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
 
Phone: 0303 123 1113 
 
Yours sincerely
 
Lyndsey Keogh | Information Governance Advisor (Disclosures) | Information Governance and Risk Management Team