Friday, 20 March 2015

Mandatory reporting of child abuse

"Children’s social workers, teachers and local councillors will face up to five years in jail for failing to protect children from sexual exploitation, Prime Minister David Cameron has said."

"The new sanction will be introduced by extending a new criminal offence of “wilful neglect”, which was initially designed to address safeguarding failings by adult health and social workers, to apply to child sexual exploitation (CSE) cases as well."

"As part of a range of steps being taken to improve responses to CSE, Cameron also announced:"
- A national whistleblowing helpline so public sector workers can report bad practice relating to CSE. 
- A CSE taskforce of professional troubleshooting experts in social work, law enforcement and health that will support local services.
- A new system for “clawing back” exit pay-offs for senior staff who leave a post for failing to protect children, but are “quickly re-employed” in a similar role.
- Child sexual abuse will be prioritised as a “national threat”, meaning police forces will have a duty to collaborate across force boundaries.
- An additional £14m will be given to organisations supporting victims of sexual abuse (£7m in 2014/15 and £7m in 2015/16)...

"Brigid Featherstone, chair of the college’s children and families faculty, said: “While we recognise that a strong response is needed to the deplorable practice of child sexual exploitation, threatening to jail frontline social workers is not the answer."

“We have been similarly clear about this in relation to mandatory reporting [of child abuse], for which there is no sound evidence."

- See more at:

Guidance for professionals in Scotland is set out in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014.
"Scott Pattinson has called on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to introduce legislation that makes it a criminal offence to fail to report child abuse."

The briefing explores some of the adverse consequences of mandatory reporting.
There is evidence to suggest that existing mandatory reporting regimes can lead to unintended adverse consequences, such as creating a culture of reporting rather than acting; dissuading children from disclosing incidents for fear of being forced into hostile legal proceedings; or overwhelming an already stretched child protection system so that attention is diverted from where it is most required.

Of course, the child protection system in Scotland is already stretched due to the focus on low level wellbeing concerns.

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