Slater and Gordon are calling for changes to UK law around mandatory reporting of abuse cases. We started our campaign in 2013 demanding greater exploration of the laws surrounding child abuse. In the wake of the horrific revelations about Jimmy Savile there has been a renewed focus on protecting vulnerable children from predators. We believe a form of mandatory reporting written into law would protect children in future and we are actively campaigning for this change.
Currently people working within institutions – including schools, hospitals and children’s homes – who know about children being abused are not required by law to report this to the police. We think this can allow paedophiles like Savile to continue undetected.
In the past two years we have used our regular television, radio and print appearances to push the agenda on mandatory reporting. We have worked closely with policymakers both here and abroad, charities and academics to investigate how to stop a scandal like Savile ever happening again. Never again must someone like Savile be allowed to prey on the vulnerable and go undetected for decades. A compulsion to report would, we believe, protect not just the vulnerable but institutions. We are working with leading abuse charities in a bid to pressure Government to pursue this avenue.
Since taking on the Jimmy Savile case we have been very vocal about how changes can be made and lessons learned from past mistakes that were made.
At Slater and Gordon we now represent more than 800 abuse victims and we have worked with Panorama, BBC, Sky News and ITV to bring the issue of mandatory reporting to national news agenda.
A recent report by the NSPCC has backed the need for mandatory reporting and I have worked with my colleagues to help the NSPCC as much as possible in compiling this report.
It is hugely significant that the victims unanimously call for professionals who work with children and the vulnerable to have an obligation to report abuse they become aware of. It is frankly shocking this is not already law.
The mandatory reporting of abuse, as recommended in this NSPCC report, would ensure the silence that Savile and predators like him shrouded themselves in will never be allowed to happen again. Our abuse team see on a daily basis where mandatory reporting could have protected the vulnerable. We represent hundreds of victims of abuse from across the spectrum of institutions. Victims who we represent are universally supportive of a criminal offence to prompt a compulsion to report and our proposals around mandatory reporting. On top of this we carried out independent research which also backs our calls. We surveyed 1,500 people in February 2014 asking them if they supported a change in the law to introduce mandatory reporting. In total 96% of those questioned supported the change.
During a Lords debate hours after yet more sickening revelations about the level of abuse carried out by Jimmy Savile a Peer confirmed Government were considering Slater and Gordon's campaign to introduce mandatory reporting. During the campaign we have worked with victims, politicians, the media and charities. Baroness Northover told the House ...
"Savile's "reign of abuse" showed how vigilant the authorities must be to ensure abuse was prevented and tackled. In all respects, we must counter abuse through culture change, or legislation, regulation and training."
She said mandatory reporting was one of a number of possible future approaches the Government was considering.
"The Government is reviewing the specific case for mandatory reporting in regulated activity and the Home Office is looking at options to strengthen the system. We will continue to examine the evidence on this both nationally and internationally."
The Government has now confirmed they will hold a public consultation into the proposals.
We do not seek to widen the scope beyond those who work with children in regulated activities. We also support a single point of contact within an organisation being nominated who must then pass any accusations to the authorities for independent investigation. This law is not about sending people to prison for not reporting child abuse – it is to change culture to make sure people do report it.
The Government is reviewing the specific case for mandatory reporting in abuse cases in regulated activity and the Home Office is looking at options to strengthen the system. They are continuing to examine the evidence on this both nationally and internationally.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of abuse and you would like expert legal advice free of charge, please call our Abuse Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help. Any communication will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.
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