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1 March 2024 | Podcasts | Article by Alan Collins

The UK Government has announced that it will introduce a mandatory reporting law

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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) recommended  the introduction of mandatory reporting, that is a legal requirement to report child abuse, in England  and Wales.

IICSA’s recommendations contained proposals on when and where mandatory reporting should apply. The Government having announced that it would progress the recommendations then consulted on the issue and announced that as part of the current Criminal Justice Bill (which is at report stage in the House of Commons) additional provision will be made to introduce mandatory reporting. The announcement noted that:

There will be a legal requirement for anyone in regulated activity relating to children in England, including teachers or healthcare professionals, to report it if they know a child is being sexually abused. Those who fail to report child sexual abuse they are aware of, falling short of their legal duties, face being barred from working with young people. Anyone who actively protects child sexual abusers – by intentionally blocking others from reporting or covering up the crime – could go to prison for seven years.

In this week’s podcast we examine what is proposed.

Alan Collins who is the partner who heads-up the abuse team considers the Government’s proposal as weak. The whole purpose of MR is drive cultural change so that suspicions and concerns are reported. It would be very unusual if not unique for a professional to have witnessed CSA. It is the concern that needs to be reported.

Time and time again we have seen offences committed because concerns were not reported. It would be complacent to think that social services and the  teaching profession have got their  act together They  might be better trained and so on, but that’s not the point. We see through all the tragic child murders a trail of failed opportunities because concerns were not acted upon.

Unless you have a requirement to report concerns as opposed to knowing a child has been abused we are not going to see that cultural change that is needed.

Arguably and, perhaps, to be very cynical this ties in with the Criminal Justice  Bill which explicitly excludes accountability for failure on the part of the State if the rights afforded to victims in the justice system are not adhered to?  Could it be Alan muses  there is a concern that the politicians that have responsibilities in child protection fear being held accountable for the failures of the social services departments? Alan has raised the issue directly with the Home Secretary at a meeting at Parliament earlier this year.

Author bio

Alan Collins is one of the best known and most experienced solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation and has acted in many high profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne abuse scandals.  Alan has represented interested parties before public inquiries including the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, and IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse).

Internationally, Alan works in Australia, South East Asia, Uganda, Kenya, and California representing clients in high profile sexual abuse cases. Alan also spoke at the Third Regional Workshop on Justice for Children in East Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok hosted by Unicef and HCCH (Hague Conference on Private International Law).

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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