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Reporting child abuse

April 2015

The Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) has welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposal on child sex exploitation (CSE).

Mr Cameron proposed that public sector officials should be made legally liable for the wilful neglect of children. However, CCPAS also want to see this extended to include church officials.

Simon Bass, chief executive of CCPAS, commented: ‘Mr Cameron’s announcement reflects both how endemic this form of abuse has become across the UK and how urgently we need to address it’. He spoke of the need for a ‘sea change’ in the UK, to create clear accountability structures for mandatory reporting of abuse.

Mr Bass stated that the heart of wilful neglect is the intention, so the question to be asked is, ‘Why did someone not report suspected abuse?’ According to CCPAS, there are a number of cases where churches and denominations have moved known abusers elsewhere, instead of reporting them. CCPAS believes that, if this was done to protect reputations, then those involved should be made legally liable.

By prioritising child sexual abuse as a national threat, just like terrorism and organised crime, police forces will have to collaborate with each other to safeguard children. This should then lead to more efficient sharing of resources, intelligence and best practice, all supported by specialist regional CSE police coordinators.

Simon Bass concluded: ‘We agree that CSE is a serious national threat, and has devastating outcomes for many. Prioritising CSE and looking at reporting mechanisms will, we hope, eventually lead to mandatory reporting. We are pleased that many church denominations, including the Church of England, are behind this. It is long overdue’.