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Government responds to consultation on reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect

Ministers from the Department for Education and the Home Office have finally set out the Government’s response to a 2016 consultation on reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect.

The consultation sought views on the possible introduction of one of two new legal duties around child protection:

  • a mandatory reporting duty, which would require specified practitioners or organisations to report child abuse or neglect if they knew, or had reasonable cause to suspect, it was taking place, or
  • a duty to act, which would place a legal requirement on specified groups, professionals or organisations to take appropriate action where they knew or suspected that a child was suffering, or was at risk of suffering, abuse or neglect.

Only a quarter (25%) of respondents to the consultation favoured introducing a duty to act, including PACEY. Less than half of that number (12%) favouring the introduction of a mandatory reporting duty. The majority of respondents (63%) were in favour of allowing the Government’s existing programme of reforms time to be fully embedded before considering additional statutory measures.

Respondents indicated that the biggest issues with the current system were the need for better joint working between different local agencies (93%), further work to encourage new and innovative practice (85%) and better training for practitioners (81%).

The Government has therefore decided that neither of these new duties will be taken forward. Instead, there will be a focus on taking action to address some of the key issues raised by respondents to the consultation, including:

  • improving multi-agency working, in particular strengthening information sharing for safeguarding purposes, including better local arrangements;
  • revising the Working Together to Safeguard Children statutory guidance;
  • looking at the current legislative framework to assess whether it is able to deal appropriately with concerns about concealment of child abuse and neglect; and
  • continuing work to improve the training, accreditation and regulation of practitioners, so that they can better safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Resources from PACEY