If you work with children, and see one of your charges being abused or even raped, you might think you and your employer had a legal obligation to report it to the authorities. Not so. There is no legal requirement on anyone working with minors in England (Wales or Scotland) to report such incidents or concerns to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), children's services or in the event of a 'known' crime, the police.
We are seeking the introduction of law which requires staff in fall such settings which are defined as ‘Regulated Activities,’ [Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006] who know, suspect, or have reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting child abuse, to inform the LADO (or in appropriate circumstances children's services) so that experienced and independent assessment is introduced immediately to ensure perpetrators are stopped as soon as possible. Here is our 5 Minute guide to Mandatory Reporting . Mandatory Reporting operates in the significant majority of countries on all four continents - it is England, Wales and Scotland that are out of step.
• A criminal sanction for failure to report removes any perceived need to weigh up whether the concerns reported are serious enough, or who to believe before having to decide what to do: the person reporting is freed from having to make complex judgements about who is telling the truth and they will know they are following and protected by the law when they report as opposed to whistleblowing - please listen to this chilling 2 minute audio file from BBC5 Live 'call in' about mandatory reporting.
Mandate Now is the political and legislative arm of Paula Barrow’s highly successful 'Daniel's Law' petition which shares our objectives for the introduction of Mandatory Reporting in all Regulated Activities. Please visit the Daniel's Law website here.
We are requesting you urgently draft legislation that reflects the reality of our society rather than the make believe world that the legislation addresses in which professionals know best, most people do the right thing and everyone would protect a child at risk of harm. The cases that have come to public attention over the past year (Savile Inquiries, Rochdale SCR, Hillside First School SCR and Mid Staffs Hospital Inquiry report) clearly evidence that this is not the case. The current discussions around strengthening the ‘whistle blowing’ legislation have also highlighted the many conflicting interests and pressures that stop people reporting serious concerns but ‘whistle blowing’ legislation on its own will achieve little. Not having legislation that reflects these realities means staff are currently unsupported when faced with the difficult task of referring internally, and then the administration of the Regulated Activity is conflicted when deciding whether or not to inform the LADO of the worst possible news for any institution.
Only when we acknowledge that the objective aim of protecting children can so easily be undermined by the subjective realities of the real world, will we begin to develop intelligent legislation and guidance. It needs to cut through the dysfunctional dynamics, negative culture and careless indifference that surround child abuse, and face up to the realities of the crime. When this is achieved we will begin to address the shocking scale of unreported child abuse in this country which destroys the lives of many tens of thousands of children every year at incalculable long-term costs to society.
Our European neighbour the Republic of Ireland has just introduced mandatory reporting, an example we urgently need to replicate for the protection of our children.