One of the UK’s leading experts on child abuse, Stockport based Peter Garsden, has backed recommendations by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which highlight the need for an obligation on professionals of all kinds to report child abuse.
Peter Garsden, whose firm Simpson Millar represents victims of abuse in their claim for compensation, believes that the solution to ensuring that child sexual abuse doesn’t go unreported is to make the non-reporting of abuse a criminal offence. He agrees with the HMIC that there should be a legal obligation on those responsible for the care of children to report the abuse they witness, and for the failure to report it to be a criminal offence. This mandatory reporting is already law in all other Commonwealth countries. In his capacity as President of ACAL (Association of Child Abuse Lawyers) Mr Garsden is campaigning for a change in the mandatory reporting law through support groups and Parliament and is set to launch an online petition.
The publication of the report by the HMIC was commissioned by the home secretary to find out how much police know about Jimmy Saville before he was exposed as a sex offender in 2012. The 61 page report concludes with 5 recommendations, one of which is the mandatory reporting of abuse. The recommendation states: “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.”
Commenting, Mr Garsden who has specialised in abuse cases for the last 19 years, said: “I whole heartedly welcome this latest recommendation. Together with a number of charities, including NAPAC, Innocence In Danger and the Survivor’s Trust (representing over 100 survivor charities) we are pushing for a change in the law. We are trying to encourage the support of parliament in a campaign and we will shortly be launching a petition. In my experience of manifest abuse that took 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 has repeatedly moved abusive priests from one parish to another could also 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. I implore people to sign our petition once it is launched and sign it. This law is vital to protect our children from harm.”