Sexual touching in Harrow

Problem: Sexual assault reluctantly reported by a female student in school. Very anxious and hesitant for a parent to know, or for police involvement. The perpetrator was a boy in her year group. He had put her hand on his genitalia during a lesson, instructing her to feel his erect penis.
How was it dealt with: The Designated Safeguarding Lead spoke to the girl at length, risk assessed the immediate situation, and reassured the student that our Safer Schools' Officer was the correct point of contact to speak to her and to give her further support and advice, as she wanted to report the matter in the correct way. Our Safer Schools' Officer presented at school immediately with a colleague and spoke to the young person alongside her Dedicated Safeguarding Lead (DSL). He was warm, reassuring and helped to plan next steps, which she felt comfortable with. This involved giving her that evening to speak to her mother before school would call home the next day to invite parents in. He also was supportive in speaking to the DSL regarding risk assessing the current situation in school. He was in constant contact with the DSL over the next days, and visited school to meet with parents, as well as the other student and his parent. Throughout, the emphasis was on supporting both young people, even though there had to be a consequence from school for the male student involved. The female student and parents chose not to press charges and criminalise the male student, as they felt that his consequence of completing the end of his learning and examinations at alternative provision was sufficient. This permitted her the space and freedom to complete her exams without the anxiety of the situation.
Outcome: School and both sets of parents felt hugely supported by our Safer Schools' Team, who were able to navigate this emotive situation in a calm and objective way, framing it within legal terms. The male attended alternative provision to complete his Year 11, and in consultation with the female student, who left school to attend college, the male student succeeded in gaining excellent GCSE results, had an immaculate record of conduct, and was permitted to study at school again in 6th Form for his A levels. He has also promised to pay back this learning experience to school by supporting to plan and run workshops for younger students on sexually harmful behaviours.


Steven Sweeney BSc (Hons), MSc

Metropolitan Police Service, Frontline Policing Delivery Unit, Youth Policy Team