Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Mandatory Reporting of Abuse recommended by Inspector of Constabulary

Jimmy Savile
The recent report commissioned by Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary entitled "Mistakes were made" into the allegations and material concerning Jimmy Savile between 1964 and 2012 stretches to 61 pages, and makes 5 recommendations on the final page.

Mandatory Reporting of abuse is one of them -
"Recommendation 3
We consider that a system of mandatory reporting should be examined whereby those who, in the course of their professional duties, become aware of information or evidence that a child is or has been the victim of abuse should be under a legal obligation to notify their concerns to others."
The report describes how failures to action complaints by the police contributed to the failure to investigate and convict Savile in his lifetime. This is well documented elsewhere in the media, so I will skip over it for the time being.

The point is that a number of charities, including NAPAC, Innocence In Danger (whom I am working with), and the Survivor's Trust (representing over 100 survivor charities) have joined together with me to push for a change in the law. We are trying to encourage the support of parliament in a campaign.We will shortly be launching a petition.

To explain - mandatory reporting is explained above. It means that if a professional type of person (it can and has been extended to the public in some American jurisdictions) looking after children in "regulated activities" becomes aware that a child has been a victim of abuse, then he/she has a legal obligation to tell someone appropriate about it. Failure to report abuse then becomes an offence punishable in the Courts. That person could be a Local Authority officer or the Police. It matters not.

It is said in the report that:-
"there will always be instances in which the victim does not feel able to tell the police what has happened but does confide in others, such as health professionals. In addition, we recognise that, in those cases where there may be a pattern of sustained abuse, there are often behavioural changes that may alert those trained to recognise such signs. The issue then arises about what, if any, obligation should be placed on those third parties to notify others that they suspect that someone whom they know may have been the victim of sexual abuse.

...it is interesting to record that every State in the United States of America, all bar one Australian state and all bar one state in Canada have adopted some form of mandatory reporting requirements where there are allegations of child abuse or neglect."
I wrote to my MP in order to get a change in the law to introduce mandatory reporting. The official government position is set out in a letter of 27th February 2013, which I received from Damien Green MP, Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice. He says:-

"The Government is of the view that mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect would not improve the robust reporting procedures already in place.....the current law, along with the local safeguarding boards and other social services that are in place are adequate"
 In other words, thank you but no thank you.

It is thus heartening that the Police agree with us that mandatory reporting should become a criminal offence in the same way as it is in all other Commonwealth Countries. In fact it is also a criminal offence in countries such as Northern Ireland, Sweden, Argentina, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Korea, Rwanda, Spain, and Sri Lanka. So why not England and Wales if the rest of the World think it is a good idea.

Mandatory Reporting has been a criminal offence in most states of America since the early 1960's.

In my experience of manifest abuse taking place in many institutions such as childrens homes from the 1960's to the 1980's, had it always been a criminal offence not to report, then it is much more likely that the abuse which took place would have been reported. The police would also have been able to report wardens in charge of Children's Homes, whom they knew had turned a blind eye to abuse in their children's home.

The Catholic Church who have repeatedly moved abusive priests from one parish to another could have been brought to book. It is also much more likely that Jimmy Savile would have been prosecuted in his lifetime rather than waiting until he died to carry out a retrospective dead end investigation.

Watch out for our petition launch and sign it. This law is vital to protect our children from harm.

No comments:

Post a Comment