Government’s New Child Abuse Legislation Labelled ‘Useless’ By Campaigners

Campaigners, lawyers and abuse survivors are outraged by the “confused” new legislation to protect children from predators and abuse.

Independent Inquiry

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An Independent Inquiry report published in October 2022 found that there was “a marked absence of a cohesive set of laws and procedures in England and in Wales that require individuals working with children to report child sexual abuse”.


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The report found that “children have suffered as a result” and made recommendations, including the main suggestion to make reporting child abuse mandatory.

Calls for Action

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As a result of this and efforts by abuse survivors, campaigners and lawyers, the government made a commitment in April 2023. 

Mandatory Reporting Duty

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Suella Braverman, Home Secretary at the time, said, “I’m introducing a mandatory reporting duty and launching a call for evidence.“.

Supporting Victims

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Braverman added, “We must address the failings identified by the Inquiry and take on board the views of the thousands of victims and survivors who contributed to it.”

New Legislation

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The government has now responded with an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill. The £186m inquiry recommended that failing to report child sexual abuse should be a criminal offence, but that’s not quite what has happened.

A Legal Requirement

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The Home Office has claimed that the amendment creates a legal requirement to report abuse, but the details of the amendment are not what those asking for it expected.

In the Details

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The amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill means that “A person aged 18 or over must make a notification under this section if, while engaging in a relevant activity in England, the person is given reason to suspect that a child sex offence may have been committed”.

What Are Amendments?

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However, the small print adds that the duty does not apply “for such time as the person reasonably believes that it is not in the best interests of each relevant child to make a notification under this section”.


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Equally, the duty to report does not apply “ if the person reasonably believes that another person has previously made, or will imminently make, a notification under this section in connection with the suspected offence, ” meaning anyone can claim such reasons exist to avoid their duty to report.

Criminal Offence

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Perhaps perversely, however, it is “a criminal offence to prevent or deter a person from complying with the statutory duty.”. This is intended to prevent anyone from actively protecting child abusers.

Who Does This Apply To?

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While campaigners for the “duty to report” law had in mind that it would apply to doctors, teachers, and nurses, they have interpreted the amendment as far from what they wanted.

What’s the Problem?

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The amendment includes a small clause stating, “This section applies to persons in the service of the Crown.”. So, does that include the aforementioned teachers and healthcare professionals? The term “Crown servant” is defined within the Official Secrets Act and is the only clear definition.

Crown Servants

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A Crown servant can be any of the seven persons detailed in the definition found at The definition primarily includes Diplomats and Military forces but does not include all government employees.

Not Applicable

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Therefore, those in relevant jobs, such as doctors and teachers, seem to be expressly excluded from having to comply with the duty to report. 

What Next?

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The Home Office’s impact assessment includes “estimates of the volume of additional child sexual abuse offences reported to the police following intervention”. It is between 1 and 5%, meaning they are fully aware that the change from this amendment is expected to be negligible in terms of benefit to the thousands of victims being ignored.

Campaigning for the Law

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Mandate Now “leads the call for government to introduce law that requires personnel working in Regulated Activities to report suspected and known child sexual abuse to the local authority.”. @Mandatenow said “We now have the government’s legislative proposal in response to the IICSA public inquiry’s recommendation on mandatory reporting of child sex abuse. It is utterly useless, and it is clearly intended to be that way.”

Full of Holes

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One further and significant issue with the amendment is that it only covers sexual abuse. Physical abuse and neglect are still being completely overlooked and ignored by government legislation. 


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@Mandatenow said, “So, we have an unenforced non-mandatory duty with so many exceptions that even if it were mandatory it would have no effect.” and “the government seems intent [on] providing as many loopholes as possible”.

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The post “Utterly Useless” – Government’s New Child Abuse Legislation Slammed By Campaigners first appeared on Edge Media.

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