UK Politics

Ministers to consult over mandatory abuse reporting

Child sitting on steps - anonymous

The government is to undertake a public consultation into whether the reporting of child abuse by regulated bodies should be made mandatory.

The move was announced in the House of Lords as peers urged changes to the law to make failing to report known or suspected abuse a criminal offence.

Lord Bates said this would be premature and the public should be consulted first on who such a law would apply to.

The Home Office minister said the government had an "open mind".

A 12-week review, to begin shortly, will examine the "advisability, risk, nature and scope" of any legal reporting duty, including which forms of abuse it should apply to and what organisations and individuals would be bound by it.

David Cameron has said mandatory reporting, which is backed by campaign groups, should be considered in response to the multiple abuse scandals that have come to light in recent years.

Lord Bates said ministers were seeking the views of all those with "strong opinions" on the matter, including victims of abuse.

The experience of countries such as the US and Australia, where mandatory reporting is in place, should be taken into account, suggesting that research so far was "inconclusive".

"The government will look at all the responses it receives with an open mind," he said. "It will be a thorough, open and transparent consultation with a rigorous evaluation of the responses."

Lib Dem peer Baroness Walmsley agreed to abandon attempts to change current legislation to make not informing the authorities of abuse against children and vulnerable adults within 10 days punishable by up to three years in prison.