Friday, 2 August 2013

Daniel Pelka deserves better. The law needs to change - Mandatory Reporting

Daniel Pelka
Yet another tragic child death - Climbiee, Baby P, and now poor Daniel Pelka. This time the authorities say they were conned by the parents, yet there were obvious signs of abuse which were missed. Both parents were on drugs, and probably didn't know what they were doing.

Whilst cases of child deaths caused by parents are rare - less than 100 per year, inevitably they attract headlines, raw emotions, demands for heads to roll etc.

In the case of Baby P the head of social services at Harringey was dismissed in a rather hurried fashion after the political involvement of Ed Balls, then succeeded in proving unfair dismissal with an award of compensation.

If there had been a mandatory reporting obligation at the time, then it would have been possible to prosecute someone for failure to report signs of the child abuse.

In the USA the law since 1963 has made failure to report abuse a criminal offence. Indeed England is one of the only commonwealth countries where it is not yet a breach of criminal law.

The government are resisting attempts to make it contrary to the criminal law, one presumes because of vested interests in opposition.

One does not want to impose criminal prosecutions on professionals save in the most exceptional cases.

The rule would operate rather like corporate manslaughter in the field of health and safety breaches in factories, where a director of a company can be prosecuted if a death occurs for breach of safety regulations.

There are perilously few criminal cases, but the deterrent effect works.

Hopefully tonight on News 24, I will be able to interest the government in changing the law. There is an opportunity at the moment as the Children's and Families Bill goes through Parliament.

Together with the Survivor's Trust, Innocence in Danger, NAPAC, and Survivors, I am challenging the government to do the right thing.

Our petition needs signing - sign it now

1 comment:

  1. Dear Peter Garsden,

    I have just read your article with interest and am glad to hear that the deterrent effect of mandatory reporting is working. There are only two other comments I have to make: you say both parents were on drugs and probably didn't know what they were doing. They knew damn well what they were doing as their mobile phone messages show. Also, Daniel's mother went out of her way to con teachers, doctors and other involved agencies and actually succeeded in persuading his school that he was on medication for some eating disorder that would be neutralised if he ate food!! In other words she was not content to starve Daniel at home but felt she had to get his nursery school to participate in his torture. If that isn't premeditated murder, I don't know what is and I can't understand for the life of me why nobody challenged this "advice".

    My second comment is that you say "Whilst cases of child deaths caused by parents are rare - less than 100 per year . . . " I have to say, I am in shock that the number is so high. Am I to understand that almost 100 people per year kill their own children?? Even 2 or 3 cases per year would be too many. We MUST have a change in the law to prevent this. I have signed the Mandate Now petition as well as the Change-org one and want to pursue this matter in any way I can. I have been a contributor to the NSPCC "Stop!" campaign pretty much since it was launched but even that doesn't seem to go far enough.