Mandatory reporting of child abuse cases is an issue of debate amongst the legislative, professional, and academic community in the UK. There is no statutory obligation to report abuse in the UK. Is there a causal link between this lack of statutory obligation and the historic failure of professionals to report child abuse? Would mandating the reporting of abuse change behaviour? In many of countries in the Commonwealth and in most US states, mandatory reporting is part of statute law. The Sir William Dale Legislative Drafting Clinic considered the necessity and content of possible legislative intervention in the UK.
The file was assigned to Ronan Cormacain, who worked together with Dr. Mazhar Ilahi. Ronan organised a scoping workshop with wide participation from child abuse charities, legal practitioners, and legislative counsel. The aim of the workshop was to hear the case for and against the introduction of a statutory obligation to report child abuse. The workshop took place on 10 December 2013, and attracted a large and diverse audience. The speakers at the workshop were (in alphabetical order):
Peter Garsden (Partner, Abney Garsden Solicitors, President of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers)
Laura Hoyano (Senior Research Fellow in Law, Wadham College, University of Oxford)
Dr Mazhar Ilahi (Director, Sir William Dale Legislative Drafting Clinic)
Anne Lawrence (Barrister, advisor to MandateNow)
Sir Stephen Laws KCB, QC (former First Parliamentary Counsel)
Peter Turner (Safeguarding Adviser, Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster)
The event was chaired by Professor Helen Xanthaki and Ronan Cormacain.
The Clinic and its staff express their sincere gratitude to each and every one of the speakers, who have offered their services to the Clinic on a voluntary basis. Special thanks are due to Mandate Now for offering background information. And to Sir Stephen Laws who explained clearly and in some depth the issues considered by legislative drafters when they are faced with a request to legislate. Special thanks to the IALS student community, and especially LLM in Advanced Legislative Studies students, for compiling a report of the workshop.