The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse announces mandatory reporting seminar

A mandatory reporting seminar will be held on 27 September 2018. Its aim is to gather information and views on whether mandatory reporting should be introduced as a response to child sexual abuse.  The seminar will invite key individuals with valued insight in the subject and will examine the issues, concerns and practical implications of mandatory reporting. 

Possible topics for discussion include:

  • Existing reporting obligations in England and Wales
  • Arguments about the risks and benefits of the introduction of mandatory reporting
  • The effectiveness of mandatory reporting arrangements in other countries
  • Views on how it might work in practice.

In the recent public hearing in the investigation into abuse in the Roman Catholic Church there was evidence of a large number of cases where child sex abuse was strongly suspected or known but not reported to the civil authorities. The safeguarding professionals who had been recruited by the Roman Catholic Church to reform its safeguarding stated that significant improvements would not come from voluntary efforts by the Roman Catholic Church to improve its handling of safeguarding and that any improvements would have to be the result of coercion from outside.  Adrian Child, former head of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (COPCA) said despite a huge amount of effort within the Catholic Church “they haven’t got it right… I think there needs to be accountability and some kind of mandatory enforcement.

According to research by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (“Protecting Children from Harm” 2015) only one in eight abused or neglected child currently comes to the attention of the local authority children’s services.  Furthermore, England and Wales are among only 18 per cent of developed nations that do not operate some form of mandatory reporting.

Professor Ben Mathews, of Queensland University of Technology, studied seven years of data from Australia, three consecutive years of data prior to the introduction of mandatory reporting in 2009, and compared it to four consecutive years of data following its introduction. He concluded that there were more benefits than not where reporting was compulsory.  A group of Claimant solicitors with expertise in child sexual abuse claims have requested that Prof Mathews should be invited to participate in the seminar.

As with all seminars and hearings it will be live streamed on the IICSA You Tube channel and a report published with recommendations in due course. It is likely to be a seminar with some lively debate as many organisations have already contributed to the subject and there remain many differing views on this subject.

Davey_C-3-webAuthored by Catherine Davey, a solicitor with BLM

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