Here is an edited version of the Executive Summary of the Safer Safeguarding Group’s response to the Home Office consultation on mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect, which closed last month.
The Safer Safeguarding Group, of which I am a member, is comprised of professionals from a variety of backgrounds with an interest in promoting safer child protection services through a human factors approach. The response to the consultation concludes that the Government’s proposals on Mandatory Reporting and a Duty of Act would make children LESS safe, a view with which I strongly agree.
The Safer Safeguarding Group’s response argues that:
- · Safe organisations are ones in which people feel free to report and discuss their concerns about safety, including their own errors. A responsive safety culture can only thrive as part of a just reporting culture, one in which people know that if they draw attention to service failures they will not be disciplined or punished for their errors or omissions, as long as they have acted in good faith.
- · The introduction of criminal sanctions for failing to report or to act would impede the much needed development of just reporting cultures in organisations which deliver services to abused and neglected children.
- · The only way of making child protection safer depends on the willingness of front-line employees to identify and address safety concerns. The proposals to introduce criminal offences associated with failures to report child protection concerns or failures to act will make it even more difficult to begin this important journey.
- · Examples of service failures are quoted in the consultation document, such as the Daniel Pelka tragedy or the Jimmy Savile affair or the Rotherham scandal, to provide an argument for the introduction of the proposed new powers. On the contrary, members of the Safer Safeguarding Group believe that these cases provide evidence of the need to create open, transparent organisations (which did not exist in Coventry or the BBC or Rotherham) in which all employees can draw attention to, and freely discuss, the things that go wrong and work constructively with colleagues to reduce the probability of reoccurrence.
- · There are a number of puzzling things in the consultation document, not least the fact that there seemed to be little or no clarity about who would be covered by new duties to report or act. It appears that the focus would be on frontline workers, which increases unease that the impact would be to make creating a just reporting culture in child protection even more difficult.
· The Safer Safeguarding Group concludes that the proposals should not be implemented. They run counter to the creation of a responsive safety culture and would make organisations involved in child protection and, most importantly the children they serve, less safe.
To read and download the whole of the Safer Safeguarding Group’s response, visit the group's website at: