Today the NSPCC (on behalf of the Home Office) has opened a hotline for use by individuals wishing to raise concerns about how their organisation is dealing with child abuse cases or potential risks to children. This service will also highlight patterns of failures. Meanwhile guidance issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family highlights the importance of clarity around the issue of mandatory reporting and the need for those responsible to be properly trained in their role. Mandatory reporting has been in effect in Northern Ireland for many years but the definitions for the reporting threshold have created as many problems as they have solved. Mandatory reporting is an issue of interest to the IICSA and its introduction is expected to be a recommendation. Prudent organisations which will be continually reviewing their safeguarding policies and procedures in any event (as well as in light of participation in the IICSA) should also be considering whether they wish to introduce their own internal reporting strategy. Ensuring clear and unambiguous strategies is essential. Failure by an organisation to have in place a straightforward obligation to report concerns about potential or actual abuse can only leave the children it owes responsibilities to at risk and the organisation open to significant criticism.
Written by Paula Jefferson, partner