One of the UK’s leading experts on child abuse, Stockport based Peter Garsden, and four further survivor charities, are petitioning Education Secretary Michael Gove to introduce a new law forcing schools, faith groups, sports bodies, the NHS, and nurseries, to inform their local authority of all allegations and incidents of suspected and known abuse.
Presently, no such legal obligation exists, and there is no sanction on any regulated activity, as these institutions are termed, for failing to inform the local authority.
Guidance exists but as there is no obligation to report, staff who suspect or witness abuse are left in a difficult position.
Legislation would deliver long-needed change to safeguarding by giving all staff a clear legal obligation to inform the local authority of all incidents where abuse is alleged or suspected.
Peter Garsden, whose firm QualitySolicitors Abney Garsden represents victims of abuse in their claim for compensation, believes that the solution to ensuring that child sexual abuse doesn’t go unreported is to make the non-reporting of abuse a criminal offence. This mandatory reporting is already law in all other Commonwealth countries. In his capacity as President of ACAL (Association of Child Abuse Lawyers), Mr Garsden is campaigning for a change in the mandatory reporting law through support groups and Parliament.
Mr Garsden, who has specialised in abuse cases for the last 19 years, said: “Together with a number of charities, including NAPAC, Innocence in Danger and the Survivor's Trust (representing over 100 survivor charities) we are pushing for a change in the law. In my experience of manifest abuse that took place in many institutions such as children's homes from the 1960s to the 1980s, had it always been a criminal offence not to report, then it is much more likely that the abuse which took place would have been reported. The police would also have been able to report wardens in charge of children's homes, whom they knew had turned a blind eye to abuse in their children's home. The Catholic Church, which has repeatedly moved abusive priests from one parish to another, could also have been brought to book. It is also much more likely that Jimmy Savile would have been prosecuted in his lifetime rather than waiting until he died for a retrospective investigation. I implore people to sign our petition. This law is vital to protect our children from harm.”
Those wishing to sign the petition can do so by visiting the change.org website.
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Notes to Editors:
Peter Garsden is available for interview and/or further comment on 0161 482 8822 or 07721 585202. Alternatively contact Claire Donoghue, Marketing/PR at QualitySolicitors Abney Garsden, on 0161 482 8822 or 07767 012137.
For more information on QualitySolicitors or a specific QualitySolicitors firm please contact MD Communications on 020 7438 1575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About QualitySolicitors Abney Garsden:
- Peter Garsden and Paul McDonald formed Abney Garsden McDonald in 1985.
- From their Head Office in Cheadle Hulme they offer a comprehensive range of legal services. Since 1994 the firm has developed a niche market in child abuse compensation claims and now has the UK’s largest dedicated Child Abuse compensation claims department.
- Peter is one of the founder members of a nationwide group called A.C.A.L. (Association of Child Abuse Lawyers).
- Peter has substantial media experience and is currently the Co-ordinating Solicitor for most the North West Child Abuse Group Actions.
- Paul McDonald retired from the partnership in February 2007.
- Abney Garsden McDonald relaunched as QualitySolicitors Abney Garsden in October 2012.
- Launched in 2010, QualitySolicitors is a group of law firms across the country working as part of the QualitySolicitors brand. Only one firm per local area is selected to become a QualitySolicitors partner. Customer feedback forms an integral part of the selection process.
- QualitySolicitors lawyers are experts in their fields dealing with both consumer and SME legal matters. QualitySolicitors offers a personal, local service but with the assurance of a recognised national brand.
- The website address is www.qualitysolicitors.com.
- In 2011 QualitySolicitors secured equity investment from Palamon Capital Partners, a private equity house with a £700m fund.