Government announces new measures to combat child sexual abuse
People who work with children will be legally required to report child sexual abuse
The Home Office announced new measures to tackle child sexual abuse on 3 April, which includes mandatory reporting by those working or volunteering with children to report child sexual abuse. The announcement will be complemented by the publication of a call for evidence on the introduction of the duty to report child sexual abuse, which is due to be released shortly, alongside the government’s response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which put forward mandatory reporting as one of its recommendations.
The government is also introducing changes to the guidance on the Child Sex Offender’s Disclosure Scheme under Sarah’s Law, which was established in the memory of 8-year-old Sarah Payne who was murdered by a previously convicted sex offender in 2000. The changes will include: the introduction of online applications to make it easier for the public to request information; the timeframe for applications to be processed to completion to be reduced from 44 days to 28 days; the formalisation of proactive disclosure processes to help ensure that the police provide information to the right people at the right time to protect children from harm; allowing police forces to complete some stages of the process by video or phone call; and aligning processes with the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.
Alongside the changes committed to by the government, additional funding will also be provided to support the NSPCC’s whistleblowing helpline, as well as the NSPCC’s adult helpline, which is dedicated to receiving communication from anyone concerned about the welfare of a child.
Announcing the new measures, Home Secretary Suella Braverman, said: “Child sexual abuse is one of the most horrific crimes facing our society, it devastates victims, families and whole communities. The protection of children is a collective effort. Every adult must be supported to call out child sexual abuse without fear. That’s why I’m introducing a mandatory reporting duty and launching a call for evidence. We must address the failings identified by the Inquiry and take on board the views of the thousands of victims and survivors who contributed to it. I would encourage everyone to engage with the process once it starts – it is important to have a national conversation about this to help to shine a light on this terrible – but too often hidden – crime.”