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.
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.