CONTACT MANDATE NOW
MandateNow is a pressure group that seeks the introduction of law requiring and supporting staff who work in ‘Regulated Activities’ to report concerns about the welfare of children [and vulnerable adults] to the Local Authority. Mandatory reporting of suspected or known child abuse is a vital component of a functioning child protection system.
Mandate Now has two spokespeople : Anne Lawrence, Tom Perry.
On 28th October 2014 the government through Lord Bates ceded the consultation on mandatory reporting during the Serious Crimes Bill debate .
The ‘delay clock’ finally stopped on 21st July 16 when the Government commenced the consultation. The announcement was buried in multiple statements released to the House on the day the Parliamentary recess commenced. It also coincides with the start of the holiday season when Education, the largest Regulated Activity, is away for six weeks.
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.
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.
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 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.
- 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.
- Clear procedures, insofar as they exist, are also discretionary. Little reliance can be placed on any part of the policy.
- 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.
- ‘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.
- 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.
- 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’.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Insofar as clear procedures exist, this document succeeds in concealing them.
- There are multiple broken hyperlinks which reveal a lack of attention to detail.
- 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.’
 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.
In her letter to the Times published today, complaining about an article by Sean O’Neill published on 1/11/17 titled ‘Child Sex Abuse Inquiry in £1m advertising campaign,’ Professor Alexis Jay, Chair of the IICSA inquiry, resorts to a flurry of statistics that mean little to anyone – until now.
Professor Jay feels the need to defend the reputation of IICSA following Sean O’Neill’s article on 1/11/17.
Her letter is mostly statistical which will mean little to most readers because no one until now has had a datum from which any understanding, indicators or conclusions can be drawn.
For some time Mandate Now has been working to correct the vacuum. Coinciding with Professor Jay’s letter we can today provide data from Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which is due to report in December 2017. Set up in 2013, one year before its English equivalent, the data comparisons between the two inquiries, which is available here, will enable you to ask cogent questions of IICSA. There is no accompanying commentary from us and no attempt to influence.
Tom Perry who is quoted in the Times article of 1/11/17, assembled the data and is available for interview.
IICSA attempted to have a letter published on 2/11/17, but broke exclusivity rules by first publishing it on its website. It was quickly removed. Curiously, a statistical anomaly has appeared between the withdrawn version and today’s. The original letter claims that 515 people have attended the Truth Project. However, today’s letter using different language says: ‘700 people have been through the Truth Project’ – that’s an increase of 36% in 24 hours. The key word is ‘attended’ i.e. in person. The lack of clarity is noteworthy.
- 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)
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.
A petition with more than 200,000 signatures from pressure group Mandate Now that seeks the introduction of law requiring staff working with children to report known and suspected abuse is delivered to No.10 tomorrow 2/12/15. Cheryl Gillan MP will later present it on the floor of the House of Commons
The petition calls for the introduction of a mandatory reporting law that supports staff who work in ‘regulated activities’ which include schools, care homes, religious organisations, sports organisations and healthcare trusts; to report suspected or known abuse of a child to the Local Authority for independent assessment. (more…)