The UK Government is consulting on child abuse reporting. On 22 May 2023, a plan was announced to introduce mandatory reporting of child abuse cases.
Following on from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which highlighted that a number of organisations and institutions failed to protect victims of child abuse in their care, the UK Government has stated its intention to introduce compulsory reporting of child sexual abuse.
The aim of this is to prevent ongoing abuse and to ensure that affected children receive support at an earlier stage. This means that the individuals working with children and young people in regulated activity or positions of trust (including charity, voluntary and community sectors) or the police will be legally obliged to report any suspicions of sexual abuse or exploitation of children.
The Government already sets clear expectations through statutory and non-statutory guidance that individuals working with children should make an immediate referral to a relevant local authority’s social care department if they suspect that a child has suffered harm or is likely to do so. Despite this, it was recognised that more needs to be done in order to safeguard victims of child sexual abuse.
For these reasons, the UK Government has implemented a 12-week consultation, between 22 May 2023 to 14 August 2023, in order to obtain feedback on how the mandatory reporting system should be effectively established as well as identifying any resources which may be needed.
The UK Government, as part of its response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will also:
- Explore methods to enhance access to therapeutic support for victims and survivors.
- Improve data collection by the police to gain a deeper understanding of the extent and nature of child sexual abuse.
- Drive forward the Online Safety Bill, which will establish legal obligations for online providers to remove child sexual abuse material and ensure the safety of children on their platforms.
- Reform the child protection system to improve safeguarding of children.
- Explore options to extend the list of individuals prohibited from working with children.
The above measures are linked to the Government’s promise to bring an end to grooming gangs via the implementation of a Grooming Gang Taskforce. The idea is for specialist officers to assist police forces with investigating child sexual exploitation and grooming in order to bring more of the perpetrators to justice.
The geographical scope of the call for evidence is England, although many elements of the recommendation are devolved to Wales. The Welsh Government and the Home Office will work closely together to ensure that the results of this call for evidence are meaningful in a Welsh context.
At Blake Morgan we have an experienced team that advise various education bodies and other institutions on their legal safeguarding obligations. Please feel free to contact our education specialists if you require advice or if you require assistance in reflecting such changes in your policies and procedures.
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