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Parents to be treated as ‘suspects’ if smacking ban goes ahead, top prosecutor admits

July 2019

The top prosecutor in Wales has admitted that parents will be treated as ‘suspects’, if a proposed smacking ban goes ahead, adding that he can foresee ‘real difficulties’.

The stark comments were made by Barry Hughes, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Wales, who was giving evidence to a Committee of the Welsh Assembly.

He was asked by the Committee about where the interests of the child would be considered, following a ban.

Mr Hughes said, ‘Normally if there were an assault by someone else on a child from outside the family we would tend to take the views of the parents of that child.

‘In circumstances where both the parents are arguably the suspects we probably wouldn’t be asking them, we would find another way’.

Mr Hughes went on to say that he could see problems with how smacking could be weaponised in divorce cases.

He said, ‘I can foresee real difficulties in circumstances where we have parents who are separating’.

Meanwhile in Scotland on Tuesday 28 May MSPs voted for the first time on a bill to ban smacking.

MSPs backed the Bill by 80 votes to 29, with two SNP members abstaining. This was Stage 1 of the Bill and there will be other votes in the coming months.