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So far Tom Perry has created 68 blog entries.

Signs the Government is increasingly panicked over calls for the introduction of Mandatory Reporting – #FAabuse

Child sexual abuse in football has certainly stirred interest in the absence of law to report known and suspected abuse. It seems likely to be because of the sheer numbers of adults now contacting the various helplines following Andy Woodward’s disclosure on Victoria Live. The scale seems to have galvanised the public.

As a result Mandate Now has been invited to comment on mandatory reporting. For balance the BBC invited the leading Conservative party advocate against it, the former Children’s Minister, Tim Loughton (2010 – 2012), a role from which he was sacked.

The first was on Friday 2/12/16 on the 10pm R4 programme The World Tonight

This was followed and 8am contribution on Saturday 2/12/16 to R5Live with Eleanor Oldroyd

Importantly in his final contribution Mr Loughton to the piece, he uses substantiation as measure of ‘failure’ of Mandatory Reporting in New South Wales. He is mistaken once more.

  1. The MR system in Australian states did not consolidate reports from multiple mandated reporters about the same child/ren leading leading exaggeration of reported numbers. This has now been addressed.
  2. Substantiations do not account for early reports prompted by mandatory reporting which arrive with triage before abuse/crimes have been committed and are registered therefore as an unsubstantiated case
  3. Some States only require sexual abuse to be reported, and it is only those reports which can be ‘substantiated’ while those unsubstantiated cases, which often reveal other concerns that require input from social services agencies are defined as ‘unsubstantiated’ cases.
  4. Misusing or not exploring the available empirical evidence, or doing so in an unsound way is happening increasingly with UK Government and this extends to its spokesperson Mr Loughton.

This misuse of ‘substantiations’ as a measure of success peppers the Home Office consultation. We can expect no better, the Government appears panicked it might have to do something about the dysfunctional child protection framework it stewards. Here is research that supports our assertions about its misuse of substantiations :

This research into reports of all forms of abuse and neglect taken as a whole, and their outcomes, has resulted in conclusions that the substantiation outcome is “a distinction without a difference” (Hussey et al., 2005), that it is “time to leave substantiation behind” (Kohl et al.,2009), and that “substantiation is a flawed measure of child maltreatment. . .policy and practice related to substantiation are due for a fresh appraisal” (Cross & Casanueva, 2009).

On 3/12/16 MN contributed to the Majiid Nawaz programme on LBC. As you will hear Majiid like so many in this country, including two Department for Education Ministers to my personal knowledge, was unaware of the non existence of law to report abuse. Goodness the website got busy after this contribution.

December 4th, 2016|

Friday 25/11/16 – That Sofa on VictoriaLIVE and the Impact It Could Have on Child Protection

The public disclosure by Andy Woodward of child sexual abuse perpetrated on him by Barry Bennell when Andy was an 11 year old junior at Crewe Alexandra has had a dramatic effect on the public, and football. The exclusive story in The Guardian ‘It was the softer weaker boys he targeted‘ on the 16th November, combined with Andy’s appearance on VictoriaLIVE the following day is having a profound effect. Abuse in football, and sport generally, has finally emerged into the daylight. Mandate Now contributed to the programme and others on this important day.  (more…)

November 27th, 2016|

Govt Secures NSPCC Support for Child Protection Proposal Designed to Fail

Mandate Now review of NSPCC Submission to the consultation on reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect which closed on 13 Oct 2016 :

Mandate Now review comments are italicised.

Conclusion 

The submission appears to have much more to do with the relationship the NSPCC has with Government than it does with the effective protection of children by Regulated Activities. Its support for the Government’s preferred option of ‘Duty to Act,’ which relabels the status quo with the prime objective of keeping any increase in referrals to a minimum, indicates the charity’s strapline ‘every childhood is worth fighting for’ is in doubt.  

(more…)

November 4th, 2016|

Mandate Now Submission to Consultation: Reporting and Acting on Child Abuse and Neglect

The Mandate Now submission is here

Within our submission we have reviewed the two Government proposals. Neither provide a framework on which reliable child protection can be delivered by those employed in Regulated Activities. Government is promoting positions close to the status quo that prompted the Home Secretary, now Prime Minister, to initiate the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Lessons are not being learned.  

The consultation closed at noon on 13th October 2016.

Updated 17.3.17

October 6th, 2016|

MN Response to Option 3 of MR Consult: Duty to Act in relation to child abuse and neglect

Option 3 Conclusion : Mandate Now rejects the proposal.

The proposal requires no one to report anything because there is no legal mandate to report. No one is protected if they do report a concern because the report remains discretionary since the required action under the duty is unspecified.  If they don’t act in a way they should have acted,  and with the benefit of hindsight and possibly years later,  the failure to act ‘could’ be criminalised.   (more…)

October 2nd, 2016|

Review of Option 2 of MR Consult: Introduce a Mandatory Reporting Duty in Relation to Child Abuse

Conclusion : Mandate Now rejects the Government’s option 2 proposal in the consultation which was issued on 21/7/16

  • Through the definition of the term “practitioner” LA children’s services will both be mandated reporters and the recipients of their own reports.
  • The proposal allows no flexibility in LA arrangements for triaging and handling reports for instance using the LADO or a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.
  • Less serious cases of non-reporting will be addressed by disciplinary rather than criminal sanctions. Such sanctions have failed to influence child protection. Sanctions depend on organisations acting potentially against their own interests to apply disciplinary sanctions. There is no proposed sanction on an organisation for failing to take disciplinary action, therefore this is not “mandatory” reporting but a minor variation to the discretionary reporting arrangements currently in
  • The consultation proposal provides little or nothing in the way of legal protections for those who report.
  • The proposal covers only a limited number of Regulated Activities

 

There are three curious things about the consultation proposal for mandatory reporting. (more…)

September 26th, 2016|

Consultation on mandatory reporting of child abuse ‘has been buried’ | Observer 4.09.16

An article appeared in the Observer on 4/09/16.  The headline captures the thoughts of Baroness Walmsley whose amendment 43 in the Serious Crimes Bill secured the consultation.

 

observer-consultation-041016

Click on image to expand

The full article on line is here  or in .pdf format here.

Government delayed the start of the consultation by 631 days and then launched on the last day of parliament just as schools, the largest Regulated Activity, went on holiday. Furthermore the end of the consultation will be distracted by the political conference season just before the consultation closes on 13th October.

Child protection has not been liked by Government of any hue.

September 9th, 2016|

Are These the Official Spokespeople for IICSA?

The Victims Survivors Consultative Panel seems to have become a cadre of IICSA spokespeople who comment not on the glacial progress of the inquiry, the reasons for loss of another chair, the appointment of a replacement at breakneck speed who is unversed in law despite the inquiry being statutory, or the exceptionally poor inquiry communications towards those who are allegedly at the centre of it, but on cheerleader issues.  Furthermore this Panel has yet to produce a report informing us what it has done in the last year. Despite these concerns, three VSCP members in full well briefed ‘on message’ cheerleader mode, undertook a gushathon of media engagements on multiple platforms following Justice Goddard’s resignation. The trio bore a striking resemblance to three hubcaps arriving in the car park in advance of the ditched charabanc from which they’d become temporarily detached.

The  IICSA Comms trio are seemingly the official spokespeople for the inquiry, yet this is not included in the Panel’s terms of reference :

The VSCP will: Have a direct link to the Chair and Panel via the nominated Single Point of Contact for the VSCP to discuss issues as they arise as well as formal joint Panel and VSCP meetings.

Be provided with legal, administrative and media communications support. Act collectively and take collective responsibility to reach decisions and in the making of any statements.

VSCP core terms of reference include :

  • The way in which the Inquiry engages with victims and survivors
  • Research and evidence on child sexual abuse
  • Advise on direction of workstreams
  • Advise on recommendations

To fulfil these obligations the panel meets once a week. They have collective responsibility which  must also apply to the ever increasing media engagements of the trio.

People who applied for VSCP roles did so despite there being no ‘pathfinder’ terms of reference. Applicants did not know what they were applying for, but then their interviewers did not know what they were interviewing for. Really!

One has to wonder how the eight appointments were made? In the absence pathfinder ToRs it can only have been on the basis of ‘does the face fit?’ Or to put it another way – appointments of patronage. We wrote about it in April 2015 when the invitations for panel membership were announced.  For the record, no one who coalesces around Mandate Now applied.  Two of our number declined permission to have their names submitted to IICSA for consideration.

May meeting

Interviewed on 13th November 2014 and now all members of the VSCP. Three seem to have become official spokespeople for IICSA yet the role of the VSCP is at the margins of the inquiry as the terms of reference reveal.

The picture above is a screenshot of an interview that happened on the 13th November 2014 outside the former office of NAPAC which at the time was located in the Oval. The occasion was a meeting between Theresa May, who was being heavily criticised for having not spoken with abusees, and approximately thirteen survivors following the resignation of  Fiona Woolf the second chair of the Panel Inquiry. Also present were people from the Home Office who now hold positions in the inquiry’s  administration. At the end of the engagement the four in the photograph left the room in the slipstream of Theresa May’s entourage and straight into the embrace of the assembled media to confirm the Home Secretary ‘got it.’

In the picture from left to right are : Fay Maxted, Lucy Duckworth, Chris Tuck, and Peter Saunders. These four now constitute more than half the members of the VSCP and yet, this interview occurred five months before the invitation to apply for VSCP membership was announced. Was this perhaps a trial outing for the spokespeople in waiting?

The most recent appearances for Peter Saunders, Chris Tuck and Lucy Duckworth followed Justice Goddard’s resignation. A number of people expressed surprise to us at being swamped by cheerleader opinion from the three. The deluge of ‘on message’ coverage from these Panel members, which after all operates at the margins of the inquiry as the ToRs indicate, would have better come from an official IICSA spokesperson operating at the centre of the inquiry. But IICSA doesn’t appear to have any spokespersons other than these three, or at least not one that appears on broadcast media. Even if there was someone, s/he would have to join the sharp elbowed queue of Panel members to get to a microphone.

There was collective astonishment at Goddard’s resignation yet when it happened, La Duckworth, Tuck, and Le Saunders burst onto the media to impart ‘on message’ opinion, sometimes even using the same lexicon. One went ‘off-message’ to suggest a Chair wasn’t needed. A visit to the Inquiries Act would have informed the Panel member otherwise. But hey, what does it matter, free-styling is fun when you have a platform and know so few facts about either the resignation or the Inquiries Act. But let’s not forget collective responsibility. Were I one of the four panel members who have remained wisely silent, I would be very concerned at these engagements which seem to now dominate VSCP activity.

Here is a little of what happened:

Lucy Duckworth with prepared notes.

Lucy Duckworth also appeared on Channel 4 and ITV with the same line of gushy opinion which one presumes is the collective position of the VSCP.

Peter Saunders, who has an inbuilt MGS (Microphone Guidance System) to take him to all exposed microphones in prioritised order in a ten mile radius of his contemporaneous position, pitched up on the Vanessa Feltz programme on BBC Radio London. This contribution we edited to one key question before the interview was truncated by traffic news:

Clearly Peter, and one must presume the VSCP, are under the impression they possess the power to ‘make sure’ that the inquiry delivers change of an unspecified nature. Goodness how muscular!  Except the ToRs clearly indicate the VSCP has no such power.

Then on the 10/8/16 Chris Tuck stepped up with an article in the Guardian. The headline makes the point and its

Chris Tuck

a ‘move forward‘ gushathon.  Comfort blankets and sweet tea but nothing of substance from another of the inquiry’s spokespeople:

“It is important to remember that the inquiry is not just about Goddard; there are many other people involved and a new chair will be appointed in due course”

Lucy Duckworth said something startlingly similar in her appearance on Today. Some of Lucy’s #r4today interview, in which she highlights the ‘huge’ scale of the inquiry, is embedded into Chris Tuck’s Opinion piece.  Chris goes onto say :

“I joined the victims and survivors’ consultative panel in July 2015”

Given the BBC interview outside the offices of  NAPAC on 13th November 2014, one could be forgiven for thinking a significant proportion of the VSCP, and now IICSA spokespeople, had been assembled before November 14.

Following the resignation of Justice Goddard, abusees, victims / survivors needed to hear fact from an inquiry spokesperson, someone who is seen to be at its core of it, and speaking on behalf of it. Anything else is  pointless and open to criticism which will grow if these VSCP outings continue. Whatever the ToR’s contain, survivors have a mindset that thinks the VSCP  by their very presence, should be holding IICSA’s feet to the fire. Instead, the Panel seems to have been ‘captured,’ and is doing IICSA’s bidding. One senses it adopts the impression of the last civil servant to sit on it and worryingly, it seems happy with the arrangement.

Independent and well reasoned opinion on Goddard’s departure was provided by Richard Scorer, a solicitor who acts for a number of Core Participants in the Inquiry. 

On the 28th August yet another article appeared, this time on a social newspaper. Once again Peter Saunders was wearing a NAPAC badge for this outing, or was he? Here is the piece :  Why the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is so important Peter in cheerleader mode, pom poms aquiver:

And that is why I think the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is so important. Granted it has had a few false starts but behind the scenes there is a great deal of work going on and in Professor Alexis Jay we have a Chair of huge integrity and experience and as a member of the Inquiry’s Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel I have had the privilege of speaking with Professor Jay on a number of occasions. This really is victims’ and survivors’ once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come forward to the Inquiry and be heard.

I recently met the new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, and was most impressed by her commitment to the Inquiry and to child protection. She is as keen to be made fully aware of this scourge in society as her predecessor was. And to have both the Home Secretary and Prime Minister committed to supporting the Inquiry and indeed organisations like NAPAC is a great step in the right direction.

For whose benefit is this comfort blanket slurry?

And then, just as we thought IICSA’s spokespeople had gone home to bed, Peter appears on BBC News on the subject of Janner :

Peter is under the NAPAC banner for this interview with Tom Symonds. The Janner family had come out strongly in the defence of their father. Tom well understands Peter has an unerring addiction to microphones and of course, that he is also part of IICSA. The report was exclusively about IICSA, but why is IICSA commenting?

It didn’t stop there. On 6/9/16 with klaxon blaring and the light flashing on Peter’s MGS he ‘zeroed in’ on World at One for a session with Ed Sturton. You’ll recognise much of it but the seeming redesign of the inquiry is new. Was Peter free-styling? Who knows?  The enormity of the inquiry was mentioned for the umpteenth time – size clearly matters. One wonders whether the repeated mention of the size of the inquiry is preparation for some sort of paring of its scope by the sponsoring Department.  During her appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee 7/9/16 in response to a question from Chuka Umunna about paring, Amber Rudd said she saw no reason to change it. But she could be given one to consider if the new Chair asks.

In our April 2015 posting titled ‘The Victims Survivors Consultative Panel (VSCP) – what’s it for?’ the penultimate paragraph says:  “Those who consider applying for the VSCP are in danger of being nothing more than decoration without meaningful function other than to burnish the credibility of the inquiry.”

It’s spooky that the crystal ball got it fairly correct.  Trying tasseography next.

September 7th, 2016|

Mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse are essential for kids and society: Professor Ben Mathews

Professor Ben Mathews is a researcher in the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He has led some of the largest studies ever undertaken into mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse.

In the UK, 18% of girls and 5% of boys experience contact sexual abuse (one in eight children), and the figures are even higher for all kinds of sexual abuse. The mean age of onset is 9-10. Most children unlucky enough to suffer sexual abuse are unable to tell anyone, because they are terrified of the abuser’s power, have been threatened, feel ashamed, depend on the abuser, or are too young to understand it. The abuse often continues, the children endure horrific experiences and suffer long-lasting health, behavioural and social problems, and society suffers enormous socio-economic costs. Offenders get away with it and can continue offending. We see this repeatedly with prolific individuals and gangs: Rotherham, Rochdale, Savile, Oxford, Operation Yewtree. But it’s not just high profile casesthat matter: many offenders are family members and other acquaintances.

What should society do to better identify cases at an early stage, interrupt the abuse, help the child, and identify the offenders? We should do what the scientific evidence tells us will get the best result. We should put the child at the centre of our debate. And we should do what an advanced liberal democracy in the 21st century that cares about its children would do.

To identify more cases at an early stage, the UK Parliament is considering whether to introduce mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse in England and Wales. As a social scientist who has conducted multiple long-term studies of this topic, my conclusion is that a UK mandatory reporting law will be very successful in responding to child sexual abuse and identifying cases that otherwise would not come to light. Ireland must agree, since in November 2015 it passed reporting laws for child sexual abuse. In fact, dozens of nations have them, ranging from Canada, Australia and the USA, to Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

These laws are often misunderstood, which produces erroneous conclusions. The truth is that the best evidence indicates they are probably the best public policy innovation we have to help identify cases of child sexual abuse. Based on historical experience, hard data and international insights, here are the top 10 things policymakers, professionals, and the public need to know.

  1. The laws do not require everyone to report everything. Rather, they simply require designated people (typically teachers, doctors, nurses, police, and sometimes others dealing with kids in their work) to report specified sexual abuse. So, the laws do require teachers, for example, to report known or reasonably suspected serious sexual offences, based on a child’s disclosure or clear behavioural indicators. The laws don’t require teachers to report four year olds engaging in developmentally normal sexual behaviour, or teenagers taking consensual semi-naked selfies.
  1. For this reason, and because sexual abuse is difficult to detect and frequently undisclosed, even with the laws you will not get loads of “unnecessary reports”. Numerous jurisdictions have had these laws for decades and the sky hasn’t fallen in. In Australia, which has very broad reporting laws for multiple kinds of abuse, our recent nationwide study over 10 years found that mandated reports of child sexual abuse make up only about 6% of reports of all kinds of child maltreatment made to the government.
  1. The laws overcome gaze aversion, which is the tendency for people to avoid uncomfortable phenomena and turn the other way. They compel professionals to report when they know or suspect sexual abuse and set a social norm about what must be done instead of ignoring the child’s situation. Together with good education about child sexual abuse and the reporting duty, the laws increase professionals’ awareness of just how serious sexual abuse is, and its nature, frequency and indicators. The laws say what professionals must do. The education explains why. The laws also give reporters anonymity and legal immunity: important legal protections.
  1. The reason the laws help is that these professionals can play a massive role in identifying cases that otherwise would remain hidden. Data from other countries shows that 50-75% of sexual abuse cases confirmed by child protection agencies are found after mandated reports by these social sentinels. To sexually abused kids, these professionals are guardian angels.
  1. Here’s how two demographically similar jurisdictions with the same child population compared in 2010, one with mandatory reporting (Victoria: A), and one without (Ireland: B). A found 4.73 times as many sexually abused children (989) compared with B (209): 780 more children in one year. In A, the mandated reports alone (police, teachers, doctors, nurses) identified 536 confirmed cases; 2.5 times the entire amount in B. Twice the number of reports were made in A compared with B, with 53% of these made by mandated reporters.
  1. Still not convinced? Here’s what is likely to happen when you introduce a reporting law. We analysed data in an Australian state from three years pre-law and four years post-law. Due to improved reporting by mandated reporters after the law, twice as many children per year were officially identified as sexual abuse victims; and three times as many were investigated (which may be the best measure of success). Reporting trends stabilised after the third post-law year. Even at their highest new level, the rate of children in reports was one in 210.
  1. Numbers of mandated reports of sexual abuse remain very stable over time, especially compared with other maltreatment. Rapid sustained rises in reports have occasionally occurred, but these have been about neglect and domestic violence, not sexual abuse. Moreover, subsequent changes to law and policy have caused just as rapid a decline in reports.
  1. It’s impossible to give a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. But, each case of child maltreatment has been estimated as costing US$210,000, child sexual abuse is arguably even more costly, and the costs of reporting and investigation are shown by leading researchers to be minimal in the child protection budget. Alongside the moral, legal and practical arguments, the economic argument based on returns from early intervention and increased offender detection is strong.
  1. A reporting law should not be limited only to offences within a “regulated activity” like boarding schools. Queensland did this, and had to expand the law after accepting it was theoretically, legally and practically indefensible. Are you really going to take seriously child sexual abuse you know or suspect occurs in a boarding school, but not every other case? No jurisdiction in the world does this and the UK shouldn’t either.
  1. That’s a lot of evidence. Now let’s consider the child’s experience, feelings, and needs. The abused child is terrified, wants it to stop, and needs health assistance. In the worst kind of case, she is raped daily by someone twice her size, and is completely in their power. She can’t escape it, process it, or stop it. Her teacher, doctor, or a police officer who knows or suspects something, might be the only person in her world who can help by reporting that suspicion.

This girl, and thousands of other children like her, needs someone to help bring her experience to the attention of a protective agency. That can best happen through a mandatory reporting law, properly supported by good reporter education and a well-supported system.

September 3rd, 2016|

Article in Community Care Magazine about Mandatory Reporting and the Whereabouts of the Consultation

Community Care 14.07.16

Community Care article

 

 

 

 Still we await this long delayed  consultation. If  ever a Government  was hoping a consultation  would be  forgotten, this is it.

 

The article is available here or via .pdf here.

July 16th, 2016|