I was glad to read in the Guardian that Professor Eileen Munro has made a strong statement against government proposals for mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect, which could see social workers and other professionals jailed for failing to report maltreatment.
Pointing out that a duty to report already existed, she is reported as saying that the introduction of mandatory reporting backed by threats of criminal sanctions would lower the threshold of reporting, resulting in a higher rate of “false positive” allegations. As a result, resources would have to be diverted to cope with what she described as a possible “deluge” of referrals, compromising children’s safety.
Munro is rightly highly respected in government circles and I hope they listen to her views on this occasion. Mandatory reporting is a bad idea for so many different reasons. The Safer Safeguarding Group, of which I am a member, make a different but equally valid argument against mandatory reporting. We argue that the threat of criminal sanctions will add to the blame culture which already exists in child protection, making professionals and other practitioners more reluctant to discuss their errors and the things that go wrong. That flies in the face of developing a responsive safety culture which is dependent on the willingness of frontline workers to report and discuss service failures.