Leading abuse lawyer, Peter Garsden, speaking this morning on BBC Radio Manchester, has once again called for the introduction of a Mandatory Reporting law for reporting suspected or known child abuse. This comes after the recent revelation by health professional Phil Shepherd, who reported widespread child abuse at a school for vulnerable boys back in the early 1990s.
Phil Shepherd attended Knowl View School in 1991 to give sex education training to staff. He told the BBC that what he learnt from staff there was a “bombshell”. Mr Shepherd wrote a report of his findings in which he detailed how parents of children at the school would be horrified if the facts were known. His report gave details of claims that boys between the ages of eight and thirteen were being made to work as prostitutes in public toilets. Mr Shepherd has said that he doesn’t understand why his report wasn’t dealt with effectively at the time and believes the only explanation for it is that there has been a cover up and his report has been “suppressed”.
Along with leading abuse survivor charities Mr Garsden is campaigning for the introduction of mandatory reporting which he believes would have prevented Mr Shepherd’s report from being ‘internalised’ within Rochdale Council. The introduction of a Mandatory Reporting law would make failure to report suspected or known child abuse in ‘regulated activities’ a criminal offence. Regulated Activities include schools, sports clubs linked to national sports bodies, children’s homes and faith organisations.
Mr Garsden said “I have been dealing with Children’s Home abuse cases for 20 years and have never come across a report mentioning that abuse had actually taken place, then being covered up. Usually one only comes across evidence of a blind eye being turned to signs that children were not behaving normally or maybe a child who tried to disclose but did not quite manage to get everything out.
This shows that the abuse was taking place quite openly at the home rather than happening in secret as usually occurs.