Failure to report Child S.e.xual abuse to be made illegal

People who work with children in England will be legally required to report child s.e.xual abuse or face prosecution under government plans. The move – which is subject to a consultation – was recommended last year by the Independent Inquiry into Child S.e.xual Abuse (IICSA).

The home secretary told the BBC she wanted to correct one of the “biggest national scandals”. Suella Braverman is expected to set out more details in the coming days.

In its final report last October, the IICSA called the scale of abuse in England and Wales “horrific and deeply disturbing”. Around 7,000 victims of abuse provided testimonies to the seven-year inquiry, which was set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

It recommended prosecutions for anyone working with children who failed to report indications of sexual abuse. Ms Braverman told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme that while the fault lay with the perpetrators for “carrying out heinous and vile acts of depravity” there was also “a wilful turning of the blind eye” among authorities.

“Silence has enabled this abuse we need to ensure a duty on those professionals that they can’t get away with inaction,” she said.

She said that in towns around the country, “vulnerable white girls living in troubled circumstances have been abused, drugged, raped, and exploited” by networks of gangs of rapists, which she said were “overwhelmingly” made up of British-Pakistani males.

“Some councillors, senior politicians, in Labour-run areas over a period of years absolutely failed to take action because of cultural sensitivities, not wanting to come across as racist, not wanting to call out people along ethnic lines.

“The authorities aware of these problems have turned a blind eye and roundly failed to take the right action to safeguard these girls,” she said.

She added that “concerns about political correctness” and “being called bigoted” had played a role in high-profile abuse scandals including in Rochdale and Rotherham.

An independent inquiry found at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, with the perpetrators predominantly men of Pakistani heritage.

Later Home Office-commissioned research found that, more generally, there was not enough evidence to suggest members of grooming gangs were more likely to be Asian or black than other ethnicities. The Labour mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, called Ms Braverman’s comments a “dog whistle”.

Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said that in the cases of Rochdale and Rotherham, “the reports were clear there were politicians and officers who didn’t report sometimes for fear of political correctness”.

But she said: “The home secretary is an absolute joke to talk about turning a wilful blind eye, near complicit silence, and lack of action. She’s basically describing herself.”

Ms Nandy said the number of convictions for child sexual exploitation had halved in the last four years. “People are waiting nearly two years on average just to get to court… there’s no excuse for any more delays and inaction,” she said.

She said she had been calling for mandatory reporting for 20 years, and further criticised the government for consulting on its plans before adopting them. Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Ms Braverman said she had committed to introduce mandatory reporting across the whole of England.

The “overwhelming majority” of safeguarding professionals, such as teachers and social workers, saw it as their “duty” to report signs of abuse, Ms Braverman wrote.

But she said ministers had to take a tougher approach, to make sure that those who failed in their responsibilities faced the “full force of the law”. She promised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would set out further measures on Monday.

The NSPCC said the plan to legally compel people to report abuse was a “step in the right direction”, but that more work was needed in order to improve the understanding of who was at risk.

It also said there needed to be an “overhaul” of support for those already suffering the consequences of abuse. The Liberal Democrats welcomed the move but said the government must now clear the record backlog of cases in courts.

Source: BBC

In other news – Japanese electronic music maestro Ryuichi Sakamoto has died

The renowned Japanese composer and producer Ryuichi Sakamoto, admired for his electronic music experimentation, has died aged 71.

Ryuichi Sakamoto

He won awards – including an Oscar, a Grammy and Bafta – for his work as a solo artist and as a member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO). Sakamoto had been diagnosed with cancer for a second time in 2021. His office said he died on Tuesday. Learn more

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