Home Office “MR” consultation #2. It’s not MR!

The Home Office has finally revealed its thinking in this low-profile month long consultation from the 4th November until 30th November 2023.

The consultation makes proposals that, even according to the Home Office’s own impact statement, will deliver no improvement to safeguarding and importantly for the Government it seems, no discernible increase in referrals to the statutory agencies. The Home Office claims its proposal is “mandatory reporting” when in fact it is nothing of the sort. The claim eases the Government’s ability to sell it to a subject naïve public and assert it has fulfilled one of the key recommendations of the IICSA public inquiry.

Our submission to the consultation, redacted of personal details, is available here in .pdf format.

Our submission to the consultation, redacted of personal details, is available here in .docx.

Here is an extract from our submission:

As a consequence, it appears that government is prepared to leave abused children to their fate rather than take action that would lead to more crimes of child sexual abuse coming to the attention of the authorities.

This Home Office approach to safeguarding children is strikingly similar to this recent allegation made in the Covid inquiry:

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Here is a highlighted note which shows the difference between IICSA’s lamentable recommendation 13, for what it asserted was mandatory reporting, and the dreadful proposal made by the Home Office. 

November 23rd, 2023|

IICSA’s final report first anniversary – government is looking on and doing little

IICSA’s final report first anniversary – the government is looking on and doing little

October 20th, 2023, brings the first anniversary of the publication of IICSA’s final report. The publication date coincided with the resignation of Liz Truss. As a result, it was largely wiped from media reporting on the day.

To mark this first anniversary, we have undertaken a review the Government’s progress on the recommendations in the last twelve months. (more…)

October 18th, 2023|

Our submission to the Home Office consultation: Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse

Here is the Home Office consultation link : Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse. 

The consultation closes 14 August 2023

Our evidenced submission is here . Our responses start on page 15.


July 17th, 2023|

“The mountain hath laboured and brought forth a mouse.” The Government Response to IICSA 22.5.23

That is the essence of today’s statement by Home Secretary Suella Braverman giving the Government’s response to the final report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse. The report was seven years in the making. On the day it was published, the then Home Secretary Grant Shapps promised that “the government will respond in full to the inquiry’s report within six months”. The government missed that deadline by just over a month, and Shapps’ predecessor and successor Suella Braverman perhaps didn’t feel all that inclined to honour a promise made by someone who was Home Secretary for six whole days. (more…)

May 23rd, 2023|

Ideology stops government introducing well-designed Mandatory Reporting

Occam’s razor leads us to reach this conclusion. For example, the questionnaire in the 2016 consultation “Reporting and Acting on Child Abuse and Neglect”, together with its accompanying commentary revealed the government’s mindset. Here is how on the last day of parliament, the Home Office media department used the press to strike fear into anyone working in institutions with responsibility for children.

Click on the image to view the article

Nick Ferrari, the LBC breakfast presenter, excitedly told his audience “a school secretary could be jailed for not reporting suspected abuse.” (more…)

March 27th, 2023|

The impact of poorly designed mandatory reporting is far-reaching

In the USA two pressure groups are seeking to get their respective State Governments, Pennsylvania and New York City, to scrap their poorly designed versions of mandatory reporting of ‘child abuse’.

We sympathise, with the significant exception of Mandatory Reporting of known and suspected child sexual abuse, on reasonable grounds. Mandatory reporting for CSA has not been revoked in any jurisdiction in the world, indeed many jurisdictions have strengthened and extended the law to more professionals, Switzerland being just one; Western Australia is another even more recent example. Data and empirical evidence demonstrate MR of child sexual abuse by prescribed professionals is a vital component of functioning safeguarding for institutional settings (known in the UK as ‘Regulated Activities’). These key personnel also have a vitally important ‘sentinel’ role of safeguarding children who may be abused in the family or elsewhere.

Here are two articles featuring the campaigns of both US jurisdictions. (more…)

March 27th, 2023|

IICSA’s final report recommendations fail to address its own reasoning

IICSA’s recommendation for mandatory reporting makes little sense. It is also contrary to the evidence and reasoning the inquiry includes in its own report.

This article is a summary of the detailed: Mandate Now two column review of the key recommendations made in the final report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.  

Deserving of its own article is this: IICSA’s seeming misunderstandings of law contained in its final report. 


February 6th, 2023|

IICSA’s Final Report is incorrect on several matters of safeguarding law

Please consider also reading our article : IICSA’s final report recommendations fail to address its own reasoning

There are several points in the IICSA Final Report in which the panel appears to be in error on matters of law.


Page 200, paragraph 74

The Children Act 2004 places named statutory bodies in England and in Wales under a duty to ensure that their functions are discharged “having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children”. These statutory bodies include local authorities, NHS organisations, the police, prisons and young offender institutions, the probation service and youth offending teams. They must follow statutory guidance, published by the Department for Education (Working Together to Safeguard Children in England and Working Together to Safeguard People in Wales).

This statutory duty is considered part of “public law”. There is no criminal sanction if the individuals running the bodies fail to comply with the duty. Nor is the duty actionable in a civil claim for damages, though a breach of this duty might be used in support of a civil claim such as a claim for negligence. It is a broad statement of principle to which regard must be had, rather than a hard-edged obligation. (more…)

February 6th, 2023|

IICSA final report 20.10.22 – a flurry of pulled punches

“If you know what’s good for you, keep quiet and do your job.”

This phrase was mentioned in one of IICSA’s reports as being the response of a head teacher to a member of staff who had concerns about a colleague. We now know her concerns were justified because the colleague in question, Father David Pearce of Ealing Abbey, was subsequently convicted of 11 counts of child sex abuse and jailed for 5 years. Had her concerns been acted on earlier, Pearce’s later victims would not have suffered. IICSA received huge quantities of evidence of this kind of incident leading to non-reporting of suspected abuse. This is the context in which the IICSA recommendations must be judged – will they help prevent this happening again?

IICSA’s final report includes 20 recommendations. Three of them are key to detecting and (ideally) preventing and deterring abuse.

  • Mandatory reporting.
  • Child Protection Authorities for England and for Wales.
  • Improving compliance with the statutory duty to notify the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Unfortunately they are all underpowered and unlikely to make the big change needed.

Mandatory reporting

The recommendation starts well.

The Inquiry recommends that the UK government and Welsh Government introduce legislation which places certain individuals – ‘mandated reporters’ – under a statutory duty to report child sexual abuse where they:

  • receive a disclosure of child sexual abuse from a child or perpetrator; or
  • witness a child being sexually abused; or
  • observe recognised indicators of child sexual abuse.

This is exactly what we were looking for. Unfortunately, it is almost entirely undone by the text at the end of the recommendation, defining what the mandatory reporting law should require.

It should be a criminal offence for mandated reporters to fail to report child sexual abuse where they:

  • are in receipt of a disclosure of child sexual abuse from a child or perpetrator; or
  • witness a child being sexually abused.

What happened to “observe recognised indicators of child sexual abuse”? It’s been called mandatory but hasn’t made it into the proposed law recommended by IICSA. This is quite deliberate on IICSA’s part, paragraph 117 of this section of the report states:

Where a mandated reporter recognises indicators of child sexual abuse (but has not directly witnessed abuse or received a disclosure of abuse from an alleged perpetrator or victim), it would not be appropriate to enforce the duty to report with criminal sanctions.

This is a version of mandatory reporting in use nowhere else in the world to our knowledge. It’s not in use because it has almost no merit. Child sex abuse happens most often in secret, there are hardly ever any witnesses, still less witnesses who are mandated reporters. So making it mandatory to report witnessed abuse helps very little.

Perpetrators rarely disclose abuse but an exception as we know can be during confession. Even if they are deluded enough to believe that their victims welcome their attentions, and therefore they think that morally speaking they are doing nothing wrong, they know they are committing an offence and will be punished if caught. So they don’t usually tell anyone except perhaps someone who shares their interest in children.  

And children rarely disclose sexual abuse for well-established reasons. As IICSA Chair Alexis Jay said in her press statement announcing the report “many victims only disclose their abuse after many years, the average time being 26 years”. With this average, the proportion of children disclosing while still children, and so triggering a mandatory duty to report, is going to be vanishingly small.

IICSA has proposed a law mandating people to report in circumstances that hardly ever happen. It does nothing to support those adults working in Regulated Activities who have suspicions and dare not report, and it does nothing to protect those who want to report but are threatened into keeping quiet. IICSA’s recommendation is mandatory reporting in-name-only (‘MINO’) and has the appearance of having been specifically designed to make no difference to the number of referrals of child sexual abuse while claiming England and Wales have mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse. In MR jurisdictions child sexual abuse accounts for ~10% of total referrals with Mandated Reporters accounting for just over half of these.

Meanwhile live in Parliament, at the time of posting this article, is a Private Members Bill tabled by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson to introduce mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse by Regulated Activities. It makes use of our current legislative model and is designed to support staff to report prescribed concerns. It’s evidenced, has operating precedent, and provides everything IICSA’s proposal does not. 

Here is a submission to IICSA from Prof Mathews for proposed legislation for the mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse in England and Wales – starts at paragraph 5 page 9.

Child Protection Authorities for England and for Wales

There’s the germ of a good idea here which looks to have been partly copied from The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Australia. IICSA’s version is hobbled by inadequate execution. A CPA is proposed for each country to:

  • improve practice in child protection,
  • make recommendations to government,
  • monitor implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations, and
  • inspect institutions as necessary

The first three points are fine. The inspection part would be good if not messed up within the detailed description in the report. At the moment Ofsted and ISI inspect schools, both for education provision and safeguarding, though they spend most of their time on education. IICSA has heard numerous examples of failures by Ofsted and ISI to detect safeguarding failings. So to move their safeguarding functions to a new specialist body is a good idea and something we recommended to and expected from the inquiry. Except IICSA hasn’t done that. Ofsted and ISI continue as before. The CPAs will be able to do additional inspections if they choose, both on settings inspected by other inspectorates and on settings currently uninspected by anyone, such as youth clubs and places of worship. The duplication involved is a recipe for chaos and turf wars.

It’s made worse by the fact that the CPAs will have no regulatory or enforcement powers. IICSA says that “The public exposure of failings in any report is envisaged to be sufficient to bring about the necessary changes.” This is embarrassingly naïve. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England for instance have had decades of bad publicity about safeguarding and seem to have learned little from it.

Disclosure and Barring Service

Failure to make DBS referrals often went unnoticed by Ofsted and ISI. They also never inspected against referrals because, as we discovered some years ago, they were not in receipt of these before inspecting a school.  The proposal that “all relevant regulators and inspectorates now include compliance with the statutory duty to refer to the Disclosure and Barring Service” is welcome.

Although there is already a mandatory obligation for schools and other organisations to make a safeguarding referral to the DBS in prescribed circumstances, there has never been a prosecution for failure to do so. The inquiry heard several cases where failure to make a DBS referral was uncovered but the setting was told to do nothing more than retrospectively make a referral. (This line of questioning was taken directly from one of our submissions to the inquiry’s Chair.) IICSA recommends that “the National Police Chiefs’ Council works with relevant regulators and inspectorates to ensure that there are clear arrangements in place to refer breaches of the duty to the police for criminal investigation”.

This is a clear acknowledgement that there have been no such arrangements in the past.  Our letter to the Chair of IICSA (above) set out further weaknesses in this system that also need to be addressed. The problem with IICSA’s proposal is there will still be no defined single body responsible for mounting prosecutions, and we are concerned that no change will occur in practice. People believe that the DBS screening provides effective protection, but it is only as good as the data it is fed.

In conclusion, IICSA has given us three key recommendations – mandatory reporting, Child Protection Agencies, and better DBS enforcement. All three are good ideas in principle, but they need to be well-designed and implemented effectively to do any good. The first two have been so thoroughly hamstrung as to be of limited value, the last is possibly useful but depends on effective arrangements which have not been spelled out in any detail.

We will be providing a granular review of the big-ticket safeguarding recommendations in January 2023.

November 16th, 2022|

Mandate Now’s model for mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse used in Private Members Bill

On 20th July 2022 Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson tabled a Private Members Bill : Regulated and Other Activities (Mandatory Reporting of Child Sexual Abuse) Bill [HL]

Please download it here.

The Bill ran out of time but what it revealed was just how lacklustre the IICSA recommendation was for mandatory reporting in principle.

We are optimistic there will in future be further opportunities to table  legislation.


July 21st, 2022|