The consultation paper of 2016 made proposals that there be a legal duty on all professionals including administrative and support staff such as school secretaries, caretakers and dinner ladies in England to report signs of child abuse. This plan has been rejected and mandatory reporting will not come into force.
Government ministers have confirmed that professionals will not face charges or criminal sanctions for not passing on suspicions of child abuse. This proposal received a lot of backlash from child protection workers, as they believed that the new proposal would not protect the vulnerable children, but would jeopardise relationships built up between the families and social workers. They believe that the new proposal would divert attention from the more serious cases.
The official response from ministers states that there was overwhelming opposition with “nearly 70% felt mandatory reporting could have an adverse impact on the child protection system and 85% said it would not in itself lead to appropriate action being taken to protect children. Only 25% were in favour of a duty to act, and less than half that number, 12%, supported introducing mandatory reporting.”
The majority response was to allow the existing child protection reforms to be fully embedded before new laws were put into place. Isabelle Trowler, the chief social worker for children and families, said “the government had listened to the views of social work leaders who knew the system best and understood the unintended consequences that introducing mandatory reporting could produce. Our focus should be to continue building public confidence in our first-class child protection system, which holds a door wide open for vulnerable children and also provides support for families,” she said.