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Letter to IICSA from multiple signatories following the presentation by the Department for Education to the MR Seminar (1) 27.9.18

A number of questions arise from the presentation given by Mr Graham Archer (Director of Children’s Social Care, Learning and Development – Department for Education) on the topic of ‘Existing Reporting Obligations in England and Wales’. With delegates not being permitted to ask questions of each other, Mandate Now and other signatories have written to IICSA to seek answers about a number of the ‘obligations’ to which Mr Archer alluded. We hope the inquiry asks and receives answers to these matters well in advance of MR Seminar (2) scheduled for 30/4/18, and makes them publicly available.

Our letter to IICSA dated 18/10/18 is available here: Letter to Brian Altman QC Counsel to the Inquiry

Signatories to the letter :

Mandate Now made two submissions to IICSA’s MR seminar which are available by following this link.

By clicking on the YouTube link you will be taken to the start of Mr Archer’s presentation.

 

On the 26th October IICSA sent the following reply to our letter. Of particular note is the fourth paragraph. It’s unfortunate that none of our questions, with which IICSA are so closely aligned, were asked at the MR seminar after Mr Archer’s presentation.

 

 

October 22nd, 2018|

Mandate Now Submission to Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – #MRseminar (1) 27/9/18

“While some have opposed mandatory reporting laws (Hansen & Ainsworth, 2013; Melton, 2005), these claims have been challenged (Drake & Jonson-Reid, 2007; Mathews & Bross, 2008) and opponents have not explicitly made their claim in relation to mandatory reporting of CSA. There are at least three reasons for this. First, CSA is qualitatively very different from other instances of other types of maltreatment (Mathews, 2014). Second, the well-established gap between the real and disclosed incidence of CSA nullifies Melton’s (2005) claim that case-finding is not a challenge. Third, reports of CSA to government agencies account for a very small proportion of all reports of child maltreatment, repelling any claim that CSA reports intolerably overwhelm child protection systems or divert resources from other priorities. Mandated reports of CSA across Australia over a 10 year period accounted for just 6% of all reports of child maltreatment from all reporter groups (Mathews, Bromfield, Walsh, & Vimpani, 2015), and USA annual data are similar (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009). In Australia, government inquiries have supported mandatory reporting of CSA as a necessary component of social policy, even after scrutinizing the validity of child protection systems and attempting to control expenditure (Carmody, 2013; Cummins, Scott, & Scales, 2012; Layton, 2003; Wood, 2008).”   Matthews et al., 2016

(more…)

September 27th, 2018|

Mandate Now Review of : Summary of consultation responses and Government action following #MRconsult

To coincide with the #MRseminar at IICSA on 27/9/18, we are releasing our review of the published summary of consultation responses and Government action following the consultation titled ‘Reporting and Acting on Child Abuse and Neglect.’

The outcome of this mischievous and poorly designed consultation is a triumph of dogma over reality. Mandatory reporting of known and suspected abuse of children by specified regulated activities is an essential component of functioning safeguarding framework. The majority of the rest of the world knows it.

Here is our detailed review.

The proposed action to be taken by government has ignored under-reporting of known and suspected abuse by Regulated Activities (such as schools), the very point of Amendment 43 tabled by Baroness Walmsley in the Serious Crimes Bill that secured the consultation, and instead concentrated on improvements to inter-agency services and communication once a referral has been received by the Local Authority.  Our review explains why this will deliver little change, but that seems to be the intention.

According to the pre-launch media briefings, dinner ladies and secretaries were going to be jailed for failing to report signs of abuse. It’s nonsense of course, as anyone familiar with Amendment 43 will understand,  but it provides an insight to the irrational fear Government has of mandatory reporting of known and suspected child abuse, and here’s why.

Government has ignored empirical evidence and data in order to arrive at a pre-determined outcome.

As we provided in our submission, data from mandatory reporting jurisdictions reveals that mandatory reporting legislation introduced to Regulated Settings sees the number of referrals to the statutory agencies from mandated reporters’ double. In turn this leads to a near doubling in the number of children being placed into safety who would otherwise be left to their fate.

The Government and those who reject the introduction of MR have to own and face up to the responsibility that they are knowingly leaving children to their uncertain fate who would otherwise be placed into safety with the introduction of mandatory reporting.  

September 25th, 2018|

Oral question 1. HoL 10/9/18 : Report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse regarding safeguarding failures at Downside and Ampleforth schools


Click on full screen in bottom right of the video screen

Question to Lord Agnew – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education from Baroness Walmsley.

Given the subject asked about by Baroness Walmsley, it was disappointing that Lord Agnew did not mention the child sex abuse that occurred at his former prep school Beeston Hall, near Cromer, during the 1970’s and perpetrated by science teacher Melvyn Rush. Lord Agnew had long left the school, but this seems as relevant to the House as the fact that some of his wife’s family attended Ampleforth. (more…)

September 11th, 2018|

Mysterious Omissions from the IICSA Report into Ampleforth and Downside

By: Jonathan West 

Ampleforth and Downside Abbeys are Benedictine monasteries, each with a boarding school attached. Last November and December the IICSA heard harrowing testimony from former pupils of both schools, describing both physical and sexual abuse that they suffered. The dates ranged from the 1950s to the 2000s.

But more sickening even than the accounts of the abuse was the way in which we learned that it was covered up. When one monk, Richard White, was found to have abused, rather than report it, the Abbot of Downside checked with the school solicitor to see if he had to report it. The reply (legally quite correct) was no. White’s crimes weren’t discovered for another 20 years, when the police stumbled across details in school records while conducting an unrelated investigation into abuse by another monk. White was sentenced to five years. (more…)

August 10th, 2018|

Where is the MR seminar IICSA? A letter sent 19/4/18 from lawyers acting for Core Participant abusees to Professor Jay

In an Update Statement published on 27  November 2015, the chair of the Inquiry made the following statement.

Alongside these twelve investigations that form the first phase of the Public Hearings Project, we plan to hold a series of expert hearings into questions of public policy which will feed into the recommendations we make. We propose to start, in the first half of 2016, with an expert hearing into the risks and benefits of mandatory reporting. We will also hold a hearing to explore the balance which must be struck between encouraging the reporting of child sexual abuse and protecting the rights of the accused.

The MR ‘seminar’ has assumed an almost mythical quality – like the Yeti or Bigfoot. Where is it?

 

Today a letter has been sent by five lawyers acting for Core Participant abusees, to Professor Jay Chair setting out why this vitally important ‘seminar’ is needed at the earliest opportunity:

The letter is here in full 

That about sums it up, its excellent.

The Lawyers :  Richard Scorer (Slater Gordon); Kim Harrison (Slater Gordon), David Greenwood (Switalskis) David Enright (Howe & Co), Alan Collins (Hugh James)

April 19th, 2018|

Mandatory Reporting Consultation : Government decides on costly retention of the failing status quo

Mandate Now response to Government Mandatory Reporting consultation outcome:

Reporting and Acting on Child Abuse and Neglect: ’

The Government’s decision to reject mandatory reporting in institutional settings in favour of the current discretionary reporting system has little to do with transforming the culture of child protection in Regulated Activities and everything to do Government thinking it is minimising cost.  Government’s key objective is to deliver the smallest possible increase in child protection referrals from professionals in schools, healthcare, sports, scouts, faith groups and similar, to the Local Authority for independent triage assessment. (more…)

March 9th, 2018|

Mandatory Reporting Consultation : Government decides on costly retention of the failing status quo

Mandate Now response to Government Mandatory Reporting consultation outcome:

‘Reporting and Acting on Child Abuse and Neglect: ’

The Government’s decision to reject mandatory reporting in institutional settings in favour of the current discretionary reporting system has little to do with transforming the culture of child protection in Regulated Activities and everything to do Government thinking it is minimising cost.  Government’s key objective is to deliver the smallest possible increase in child protection referrals from professionals in schools, healthcare, sports, scouts, faith groups and similar, to the Local Authority for independent triage assessment.

Empirical research reveals that mandatory reporting by Regulated Activities more than doubles referrals from these settings to the Local Authority. In turn this more than doubles the number of children placed into safety who might otherwise remain at risk of harm. The government has chosen to ignore research and continue the status quo with minor changes to inter-agency working downstream of referrals. The consultation’s proposal for “duty to act” (also rejected in the consultation report) was a duty to take some unspecified “appropriate action” in response to a child concern, enforceable through criminal sanction should it be later decided that whatever action taken was not “appropriate.” The only surprise about government’s rejection of its own proposal is that as many as a quarter of respondents favoured it, including the NSPCC.

The consultation bore little or no resemblance to the design of Amendment 43 tabled by Baroness Walmsley in the Serious Crimes Bill in 2014 which prompted government to consult. The consultation was poorly assembled, omitted key research and was launched on the last day of parliament 21/7/16 having been signed off by Karen Bradey MP (Junior Minister Home Office) on 12/10/15. Government resistance to effective child protection in Regulated Activities is significant.

The main concerns intended to be addressed by well designed mandatory reporting legislation are twofold.

  • To increase the number of children placed into safety. In 2015 the Children’s Commissioner reported the child abuse discovery rate in England was just 1 in 8 cases (12.5%).
  • Under reporting of child abuse by organisations is significant as data has revealed. These include churches, schools, sports clubs and others.  This failure contributed to the launch of IICSA.

Improvements in training as proposed by government will not affect those who know how to report abuse but choose not to, and improvements in inter-agency working will not help the many children who have not come to the attention of any of the agencies.

The consultation report has not listed the evidence for or against mandatory reporting, it has merely stated the proportion respondents supporting or opposing the government’s poorly assembled proposals.

The government’s claim that mandatory reporting would discourage children from disclosing abuse “if they know that it will result in a record of their contact being made” is unfounded and no supporting evidence has been offered for this contention. Children disclose abuse because they want action to be taken.

With the continuation of the existing system, staff who report suspected abuse will remain whistleblowers without legal immunity.  Key Australian research, which was inexplicably omitted from the consultation documents published by the Home Office on 21st July 2016, shows the absence of mandatory reporting with legal immunity for staff contributes to suspected abuse being under-reported by more than 50%.

Tom Perry, the founder of Mandate Now says:  “This proposal does nothing to change the culture of child protection in these critically important settings. It’s the continuation of a failing system. We challenge the Department of Education and the Home Office to name a single jurisdiction where this model functions effectively and to provide the empirical evidence that supports it. In contrast some form of mandatory reporting in institutional settings operates in the majority of countries on all four continents, and research supports it.”

“The children attending cadets, football, faith settings, and schools such as Stony Dean School Amersham (2003), Headlands School Bridlington (2009), Gate House School Milton Keynes (2009), Hillside First School in Weston Super Mare (2011), Southbank International School (2015) would have been far safer had mandatory reporting existed because it delivers responsibility and accountability and provides legal immunity for reporters.”

It’s time Government put children first and accepted that mandatory reporting is a vital component of a functioning child protection system.“

About Mandate Now

In 2000 Tom Perry was the first complainant in the Caldicott School child abuse case. He was also the founding contributor of the 2008 BAFTA award winning documentary Chosen about the dynamics of institutional abuse and its long-term effects. Mandate Now has led the agenda for the introduction of mandatory of known and suspected abuse by those employed in Regulated Activities¹ since 2005.  Here is our submission to the consultation ‘Reporting and Acting on Child Abuse and Neglect.’   Over 200,000 people signed the Mandate Now petition in 2016 calling for the introduction of mandatory reporting.

Immediate Release

March 6th, 2018|

Church of England Safeguarding is Dysfunctional and Can Have No Reliance Placed Upon It | A Review by Mandate Now

Mandate Now has reviewed the Church of England’s safeguarding policy document ‘Protecting All God’s Children’ 4th Edition (2010) and its recently replaced Chapter 7 under the new heading – ‘Responding to, assessing and managing safeguarding concerns or allegations against church officers’. The content is a thicket of inconsistent discretionary ‘guidance’ which carries with it the risk of confusion, mistake and non-compliance.

Our review is available here.

Mandate Now is a pressure group that leads the agenda for the introduction of law that requires staff who have responsibility for children, and vulnerable adults, in Regulated Activities[1] to report known and suspected abuse to the Local Authority. We have reviewed policies for other Regulated Activities and organisations including The Football Association,  Stoke Mandeville (Lampard Review), and the BBC (Dame Janet Smith Review). (more…)

March 2nd, 2018|

PRESS RELEASE | Church of England’s Safeguarding is dysfunctional and can have no reliance placed upon it

Mandate Now has reviewed the Church of England’s safeguarding policy document ‘Protecting All God’s Children’ 4th Edition (2010) and its recently replaced Chapter 7 under the new heading – ‘Responding to, assessing and managing safeguarding concerns or allegations against church officers’. The content is a thicket of inconsistent discretionary ‘guidance’ which carries with it the risk of confusion, mistake and non-compliance.

Our review is available here.

Mandate Now is a pressure group that leads the agenda for the introduction of law that requires staff who have responsibility for children, and vulnerable adults, in Regulated Activities[1] to report known and suspected abuse to the Local Authority. We have reviewed policies for other Regulated Activities and organisations including The Football Association,  Stoke Mandeville (Lampard Review), and the BBC (Dame Janet Smith Review).

The challenge presented to anyone tasked with delivering safeguarding in the Church of England is the sheer volume of its ‘guidance’, and that clear and readily comprehensible procedures (insofar as they exist at all) are hidden like needles in a haystack. It does little to establish who is responsible for doing what and when.

The General Synod was told in February that it has two difficult years of reckoning as it faces close scrutiny of its record of handling child abuse, with 3,300 reports of alleged sexual abuse in 2016 alone. The current child protection policy does not give much cause for hope that children are safe in the Church or that where incidents occur they will correctly and safely be dealt with by the responsible persons both within and outside of the Church.

The few clear policies and commitments that exist are scattered piecemeal throughout the document, and there are statements in different places on the same subject that contradict each other. Some of the ‘statutory guidance’ documents that the policy relies upon are out of date, hyperlinks are broken; the names of bodies such as Independent Safeguarding Authority are out of date. There is no clear overarching commitment to refer any child protection issues that may arise to a completely independent body outside of the Church. At various places it appears that the Church’s Insurers, Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, may have had some involvement in formulating policy – which for obvious reasons of conflict of interest ought not to be allowed. It takes hours of reading to discern the flaws and yet the National Safeguarding Team promises yet more guidance is on the way.

If the document were rewritten deleting everything except for specific procedures to be followed by defined persons within the Church (including the necessary definitions to support those procedures, and all gathered into one place) it is likely the page count could be reduced by more than 80%,  and thus produce an infinitely more workable and thus safer, policy document. Any retained weaknesses would then become far more easily identifiable.

Below are some of the shortcomings we found when reviewing the policy that is principally for dioceses and Diocesan Safeguarding Officers (DSO’s):

Chapter 7 of ‘All God’s Children’ titled ‘managing allegations against church officers’ has been replaced by ‘responding to, assessing and managing concerns or allegations against church officers practice guidance (2017)’. Confusingly, both are available on the CofE website.

  1. The document consists of unenforceable ‘guidance’ that dioceses ‘must have regard to.’ Having had regard to it, dioceses can use it in whole, in part, or not at all. It’s nothing more than discretionary.
  2. Clear procedures, insofar as they exist, are also discretionary. Little reliance can be placed on any part of the policy.
  3. CofE suggests a child protection referral ‘should’ be made to the Local Authority Designated Officer (“LADO”)/statutory authorities (“SA”) ‘if’ the threshold of ‘harm or significant harm’ is met. To establish this threshold some form of investigation is required. But investigation is the function of the statutory agencies not the Church. Coincidentally the ‘harm test’ is used by Local Authorities and courts to establish compulsory intervention. Of necessity the threshold for referral used by CofE needs to be lower than that of the statutory agencies which have the investigatory powers to establish ‘harm.’ If suspicions on reasonable grounds are not referred, many cases, which if investigated might meet the harm test threshold, will never be reported.
  4. ‘Statutory guidance’ that underpins safeguarding in Regulated Activities is weak. The act of making a referral to the LADO / SA is entirely discretionary for those working in Regulated Activities. Under-reporting of concerns is a well researched occurrence and has contributed to the establishment of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse to which the church is giving evidence w/c 5/3/18.
  5. The combination of the CofE using ‘harm or significant harm’ test and the home nations (excluding Northern Ireland) not being mandatory reporting jurisdictions, unlike 86% of Europe, means the Church operates ‘conditional discretionary reporting of known or suspected abuse.’ The Church has a long history of failing to report such concerns, with dire consequences for children involved.
  6. The role of ‘Core Groups’ appears to be an exercise in ‘mission creep’. Their interference in an incident is a real possibility for the reasons we state in our review. There is an absence of expertise and independence in the establishment of these ‘scratch teams’.
  7. The influence of the frequently mentioned, but technically independent Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, in Church child protection must be questioned. Paragraph 4.1(2) p.146 gives rise to cause for concern.
  8. Some of the ‘statutory guidance’ referenced in the policy is out of date, superseded or defunct in a safety critical document that is meant to protect children in the Church.
  9. The Independent Safeguarding Authority became the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) in 2012 when the modus operandi of DBS changed as a result of legislation. There is no sign in this document that these changes have been accounted for.
  10. Insofar as clear procedures exist, this document succeeds in concealing them.
  11. There are multiple broken hyperlinks which reveal a lack of attention to detail.
  12. Above all, there is no clear overarching commitment to refer any child protection issues that may arise to a completely independent body outside of the Church. This is the most important entitlement that a child can have.

Tom Perry, the founder of Mandate Now says:  “The policy is incapable of being the foundation of functioning safeguarding in the church on which reliance can be placed.”

About Mandate Now

The founder of Mandate Now is Tom Perry who in 2000 was the first complainant in the Caldicott School child abuse case. He was also the founding contributor of the 2008 BAFTA award winning documentary Chosen about the dynamics of institutional abuse and its long-term effects. Mandate Now has led the agenda for the introduction of mandatory reporting since 2005.  Here is our submission to the consultation ‘Reporting and Acting on Child Abuse and Neglect.’

Date: 27.02.18

[1] Regulated Activities are defined in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 SCHEDULE 4  Part 1.  These include settings such as healthcare, sport, education, scouts, and faith groups.

March 2nd, 2018|