Government 'still considering' mandatory reporting

By Joe Lepper

| 07 November 2017

The government is still considering whether to introduce mandatory reporting, more than a year after a consultation on the issue was completed, children's minister Robert Goodwill has said.

Children's minister Robert Goodwill says submissions to a consultation on mandatory reporting are still being considered. Picture: UK Parliament

As part of a consultation on the issue, the government sought views on whether the law should be changed to require professionals and organisations to report child abuse or neglect.

The consultation closed in October 2016, but the government is yet to publish an official response. Speaking in parliament, children's minister Robert Goodwill said that submissions are still being considered.

"The government has committed to laying a report before parliament on the outcome of the consultation," Goodwill said in answer to a written question tabled by Alex Burghart, Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar.

"Submissions are being considered and a government response will be published in due course.

"Just as it was right to consider in depth the evidence around these questions, it is important that we apply equally careful consideration to formulating our response in such a complex policy area, with such vitally important implications for the safety and welfare of children."

In launching the consultation last July, the government warned that mandatory reporting could undermine efforts to tackle child abuse and neglect as it could lead to an increase in unsubstantiated referrals making it "harder to distinguish real cases of abuse and neglect".

The Association of Directors of Children's Services and Local Government Association expressed concerns in their response to the consultation that mandatory reporting would not address bad practice in reporting abuse and neglect cases.

Instead they urged the government to invest in training and an awareness-raising campaign among those who work with children on how to act when safeguarding issues arise.

However, supporters of mandatory reporting believe the measure is needed as without a legal mandate people may be dissuaded from reporting if they think they may be wrong.

Tom Perry, founder of pressure group Mandate Now, which is campaigning for mandatory reporting, said that "it is astonishing" that the government has still not published a response to the consultation a year after it was completed.

He added that without mandatory reporting "everyone is a whistle blower. There is no legal protection. No one has legal immunity".

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