Report child abuse or face criminal charges if you don't, says leading child abuse lawyer
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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