The consultation that was promised in May by former Minister For Schools, Edward Timpson looking into whether there should be a legal duty on child welfare professionals to report suspected child abuse and neglect, has today been launched.

The press release explains that the consultation entitled, “Reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect“, has been designed to:

Set out the government’s wide-ranging programme of reform to provide better outcomes for vulnerable children. It seeks views on the possible introduction of one of 2 additional statutory measures:

  • a mandatory reporting duty, which would require certain practitioners or organisations to report child abuse or neglect if they knew or had reasonable cause to suspect it was taking place
  • a duty to act, which would require certain practitioners or organisations to take appropriate action in relation to child abuse or neglect if they knew or had reasonable cause to suspect it was taking place

The consultation responds to the aims set out in the Serious Crime Act 2015and tackling child sexual exploitation report, published in March 2015.

The government will consider all responses to the consultation carefully before deciding on next steps.

There has already been much debate surrounding the implementation of a mandatory duty to report, with speculation as to which child welfare professionals might be legally bound by such a duty and what the thresholds for establishing that duty might look like.

If you’d like to explore some of the commentary in this area, Researching Reform wrote an article for Jordans in May of this year looking at countries which already have a duty to report in this context and some emerging data on the pros and cons of this kind of legislation. 

If you’re hoping to contribute to this consultation, you can do so:

  • Online
  • Via email: reportingandacting@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or;
  • By post: Safeguarding Unit, Home Office, 5th Floor, Fry Building, 2 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DF

The consultation closes on 13 October 2016 at 12:00pm. 

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