The long delayed consultation on Mandatory Reporting (“MR”), ceded from Government on 28th October 2014 in the House of Lords during the passage of the Serious Crimes Bill, still awaits launch. But this has borne an advantage with the release earlier this week of important new longitudinal research into the effects of MR from Ben Mathews, LLB, BA, PhD, Associate Professor in the School of Law at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He is also Director of Research in the School of Law and is co-Leader of the Children’s Rights and Welfare research program in QUT’s Children and Youth Research Centre.
Dr Mathews’ major area of research expertise is in children and the law, with a focus on issues concerning law and child maltreatment, civil damages for child abuse, children and educational systems, medico-legal issues, children’s rights, cultural violence against children, and children’s criminal responsibility. He has conducted large multidisciplinary studies of laws regarding the reporting of child maltreatment and has published extensively in Australia and internationally, with 45 publications. Ben’s research and knowledge translation has led to changes in law, policy and practice. (more…)
In 2008 child protection in England and Wales was described in the following terms by the co author of a highly regarded reference book on child protection law in common law jurisdictions:
‘What is the current law?
To start it is important to recognise two problems in the current law relating to child abuse:
It is a patchwork of different types of law often created as a specific reaction to a particular scandal. It has no cohesion and can be contradictory. It is, for want of a better description, the Dangerous Dogs Act writ large.
It is unwieldy. There are hundreds of different rules in different places.’
The co author was expressing opinions shared by others. Here is Sir Roger Singleton on the same subject in 2009 following the publication of his report ‘Keeping Our School Safe‘ which was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Education Ed Balls, just three weeks after the first broadcast of the BAFTA award winning documentary Chosen about institutional child abuse and its long-term effects (more…)
The Home office has entered a joint enterprise with the NSPCC to create a whistle blowing helpline to aid staff who consider their employer has not handled, or been handling, a child protection concern well or correctly. This was reported by the BBC on 13/2/16
That there’s a helpline is an admission that whistleblowers aren’t protected and the existing child protection system is fundamentally broken. If it wasn’t broken we wouldn’t need whistleblowers!
Grounding child protection on whistle blowing is a non starter which means functioning child protection in organisations is impossible. Examples include an institution such as BBC and Regulated Activities such as schools, faith groups, healthcare, sport, and care homes for both young and old. The NSPCC’s abuse prevalence statistics further indicate the failure of whistle blowing over 40 years. It claims only 5% of child abuse is detected in this country, and more recently the Children’s Commissioner claimed it to be 12.5%. By any standard, these figures do not represent anything of which child protection experts can be proud. (more…)
This posting supports a live appearance on Sky News today following the leak of an early draft report by Dame Janet Smith into the activities of Savile at the BBC.
We have reviewed the Corporations current Child Protection Policy. It’s value is extremely limited. Child Protection at the BBC, as with every institution (and ‘Regulated Activities’) is grounded on ‘discretionary reporting,’ not mandatory reporting.
Here is the BBC’s child protection policy and our review. The areas of particular concern are highlighted in yellow. (more…)
In memory of Neil Todd, a complainant against Peter Ball, who committed suicide in 2012.
Yesterday the story broke in the papers about the letters of support for Bishop Peter Ball received by the CPS and police in 1993 when ‘consideration’ was being given to charging him with sexual offences against young men. He wasn’t charged at the time instead receiving a ‘caution,’ but in October 15 2015 he pleaded guilty to crimes involving young adults and was imprisoned for 32 months. The crimes which were pending against children were ‘negotiated out’ of his admission but they remain on file.
On the Today programme this morning this piece:
Over the last few years representatives of Mandate Now have attended presentations and discussions about mandatory reporting in Regulated Activities and listened with great interest to academics, among others, justifying a position against MR grounded in large part on a report by Harries + Clare (2004) and another by Gary Melton. Below are some extracts from a presentation by Professor Laura Hoyano to an audience at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in 2013. Professor Hoyano’s expertise is drawn on from time to time by the NSPCC which might explain the colour used in the slides. (more…)