Lib Dems adopt mandatory reporting of child abuse policy

Lib Dems adopt mandatory reporting of child abuse policy

The Liberal Democrats have revealed party plans to introduce “mandatory reporting” in an effort to tackle child abuse in England.

At its party political conference in Glasgow over the weekend, the Lib Dems motioned to pass a new policy, “F18: Tackling Child Abuse”, which intends to address the child safeguarding failures that have seemingly plagued the UK.

The policy centres on making professionals working with children accountable for failing to report child protection concerns, it also highlights historical child abuse cases in which failure to report has resulted in the uncovering of mass child safeguarding issues.

Concern has been raised by the NSPCC and the Conservative party coalition partners that “mandatory reporting” could lead to child protection services being swamped by “nuisance” complaints. Home secretary Theresa May expressed concerns in the House of Commons regarding mandatory reporting, stating that the increased number of unjustified reports could “diminish the ability to deal with the serious reports”.

Mandate Now! campaigner, Tom Perry, supports the policy of mandatory reporting and expressed exasperation over the legal system: “It is extraordinary that child abuse is a crime, yet reporting it is entirely discretionary.”

In an impassioned piece for the Guardian, Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson, Baroness Joan Walmsley, addressed the importance of whistleblowing and the responsibility of professionals to safeguard children: “Put yourself in the position of a child being abused. You are in the power of your abuser but you actually screw up the courage to tell a trusted adult. And then that adult does nothing about it! All you want is to be believed. All you want is for it to stop. But because someone is protecting their school’s reputation instead of protecting you, nothing is done and the abuse carries on. How would you feel? Children have a right to be believed when they break through the power of their abuser and tell someone. And they deserve action, not cover-up.”