Sunday, 15 February 2015

Labour and Mandatory Reporting

Two articles in the weekend’s papers should make us sit up and take notice.

The Independent reports on the Labour Party’s declared intention to undertake a “radical overhaul” of child protection if it wins the next election.

Sadly it just makes me despair to hear the Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, trotting out ill-thought-out arguments in favour of mandatory reporting. It sounds all well and good to say that children have been failed, but will the threat of criminal sanction against professionals who fail to report abuse make any difference?

I think the answer lies in The Guardian’s article about why staff at Stoke Mandeville Hospital did not report abuse conducted by Jimmy Savile.

It is said that there was a bullying regime at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. As a result junior staff were too scared to report Savile’s abuse.

That is the key. It’s not a matter of putting the frighteners on junior employees – as it seems Yvette Cooper is planning to do – but rather a question of how all members of staff can be protected, supported and encouraged to report abuse. A positive approach of making it easy to report is what is required; not criminal sanctions if people get it wrong or are pressurised by senior managers into staying silent.