- The NSPCC suggestions for changes to the DBS system will only protect children from abusers who are already known.
- The shortcomings arising from the DBS being relaxed in 2012, which can permit ‘barred’ people to work with children periodically if they are supervised, was debated in the House of Lords during the passage of the Protection of Freedoms Act in November 2011 by two peers with distinguished sporting backgrounds. Why only now has the NSPCC alighted on this issue? Should it not have been raising this point and objecting to the legislation when it was going through Parliament?
- The NSPCC proposal to extend duty of care to 16 and 17 year olds, which already exists in education, is a sound principle. It will though have a limited effect in practice because data [Characteristics Children in Need 2014-15 Table A3 – https://goo.gl/TDiFgq ] indicates the proportion of children suffering abuse or neglect (both sexes) in this age group is 14% while in the younger group, which is already included within the scheme in ‘statutory guidance’ it is 86%. (Statutory guidance is discretionary)
On the same day as the debate in the House of Lords, Mandate Now issued a press release under the headline ‘Confused Football Association safeguarding policy fails children‘ in which we reviewed the current child protection policy operating at the grassroots of football. Disturbingly the policy was endorsed by the Child Protection Sport Unit of the NSPCC despite it mistakenly claiming law exists to report abuse. A summary of the errors in the policy are available here.
Well meaning employees working in Regulated Activities who have responsibility for children in their care are being failed by a dysfunctional child protection framework, the legal foundation of which has always lacked law to report. It is still discretionary for an employee of a Regulated Activity to report suspected or known child abuse. In the event someone decides to report, they have the dilute Public Interest Disclosure Act to provide nominal protection. (more…)
FA ‘Grassroots Football Safeguarding Children’ Policy
With this much confusion in the FA’s approach to child protection, it will be no surprise to discover that much abuse in football continues to go unreported.” says Tom Perry of Mandate Now, the pressure group which leads the agenda for the introduction of Mandatory Reporting of known and suspected abuse in ‘Regulated Activities’ including sport.
In advance of today’s debate in the House of Lords ‘Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse within football clubs’ Lord Addington (Estimated start 14.00), Mandate Now has reviewed the FA’s ‘Grassroots Football Safeguarding Children Policy’ and in addition the child protection template for club usage.
During the week commencing 7th November, the Labour Party submitted its proposals to the Government Consultation titled : Reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect. In the 2015 Labour manifesto it said :
Here is our review of it. Our observations are indented in italics between the body of Labour’s submission. (more…)
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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…)
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.
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.
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.
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…)
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…)