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06.03.18

Councils receive child protection referral every 49 seconds

Mandatory reporting would not address the current challenges in protecting children in the UK, the LGA has argued.

The comments come following the government’s response to the consultation, ‘Reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect,’ which stated that there is not currently a case for the introduction of a mandatory reporting duty.

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, welcomed the decision to not introduce mandatory reporting of child abuse, stating that the statistics do not indicate that professionals are routinely failing to identify or report abuse.

According to the consultation document, in 2014-15 the referral rate in the UK was 54.8 per 1,000 children, which is significantly higher than USA and Australia rates, which are 47.1 and 37.8 respectively, both of which have mandatory reporting systems in place.

Last year council children’s services received a child protection referral every 49 seconds, and undertook an average of 500 child protection investigations each day, Watts explained.

“90 children enter care every day in England, and this year saw the biggest annual increase in children in care since 2010,” he stated. 

“These statistics do not suggest that professionals are routinely failing to identify or report abuse, or that children’s services are reluctant to take action when referrals are received.”

Watts continued: “We do not believe that mandatory reporting would have addressed the current challenges in protecting children in the UK.

“Evidence shows that referrals to the police and children’s social care are already higher than in comparable jurisdictions in other countries with mandatory reporting systems, and rates continue to increase significantly year-on-year.”

He concluded: “The introduction of mandatory reporting would have come with a significant cost. We now urge government to use the time and money that they will save through this decision to fully fund children’s services and help all children get the bright future they deserve.”

Top image: Imgorthand

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