Embargoed: 00.01 Monday 4 November 2013
Failing to report child abuse in a school, hospital, church, or sports club operated by a national body is not a crime in England, Wales and Scotland, although it is in Northern Ireland. The Mandate Now coalition of survivor charities is calling for reporting of child abuse to become mandatory in England, and also the rest of the UK.
BBC Panorama programme, ‘After Savile: No more secrets’, which is being broadcast on Mon 4 November at 20.30 is expected to reveal yet more evidence that adults who knew children were being abused in a number of Regulated Activities failed to make reports to the authorities. Instead some abusers were moved to new jobs where they could go on to abuse other children.
The Mandate Now coalition of survivor charities are calling on Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, to act now to help prevent further abuses of children. NAPAC (the National Association for People Abused in Childhood), The Survivors Trust, Respond, Survivors UK and Innocence in Danger are calling for mandatory reporting to be introduced in schools and similar institutions, where children are cared for in loco parentis. This will require staff to inform the Local Authority Designated Officer of all concerns of abuse and known child abuse, so that experienced and independent assessment can be carried out immediately.
Presently the reporting of abuse is discretionary which fails to provide any support to staff who will be making probably the most difficult and challenging decision they have ever had to make in their career.
Jonathan West, Mandate Now Campaigner, said: “Time after time we hear that head teachers and other professionals have failed to act on reports and concerns, and little is ever done to address this very serious shortcoming. Staff also need legal protection from the recrimination which can so easily follow when a person takes the courageous step of reporting a concern.”
“Mandatory Reporting of child abuse in Regulated Activities has been effective in Northern Ireland for a number of years and there is no reason to delay its introduction in England and hopefully the rest of the UK.”
Reporting any child protection concern is a daunting prospect for most staff. Reasons for failing to report vary, but may include fear of the consequences of whistle-blowing, loyalty towards the institution or friendship with the abuser, fear of retribution, isolation, disbelief that a trusted colleague might be an abuser, and shock. The statutory framework accounts for none of these important considerations. Staff working in Regulated Activities need support but DfE ‘guidance’ provides none.
The introduction of legislation we propose would convert failing ‘guidance’ into law. This would have a transformational effect on the delivery of child protection in all Regulated Activities.
NOTES TO EDITORS
5 minute guide to Mandatory Reporting: http://www.thesurvivorstrust.org/
There is no legal requirement for those working with children to report concerns or known child abuse in England, Wales or Scotland. Northern Ireland already has Mandatory Reporting, as do most Commonwealth countries and it has existed in the USA since 1963.
Barry Gardiner MP (Brent North) was responsible for the application of mandatory reporting to educational settings during his time there as a junior minister in the Northern Ireland Office in Tony Blair’s Labour government.
The Mandate Now petition went live on 1 May 2013. http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/educationgovuk-introduce-law-requiring-adults-working-with-children-to-report-alleged-abuse-mandatenow
As the law stands, staff who report allegations are whistleblowers, and often suffer for doing the right thing.
The new law would apply to staff who work in schools and other ‘Regulated Activities’ including sports clubs linked to national sports bodies, children’s homes, faith organisations and similar institutions as defined by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 where children are cared for by adults other than their parents.
MANDATE NOW COALITION
INNOCENCE IN DANGER
To arrange an interview with Jonathan West, Mandate Now’s Campaign Consultant, please call 07931 166319
Or email Kath Stipala, Mandate Now Media Co-ordinator, [email protected]