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Liberal Democrats

F18: Tackling Child Abuse

Watch the whole debate below or click 'Playlist' on the left of the video to select individual speeches.

This motion creates new policy. 

F18: Tackling Child Abuse

(Passed with Amendment 1)

Conference notes that:

i) All forms of child abuse are abhorrent, and can cause lasting physical, emotional and psychological damage to victims and their families; most perpetrators of child abuse are a close family member or friend of the child, contrary to public perception that child abuse is committed by a stranger.

ii) Past cases, where adults in a position of trust in care homes, hospitals, schools, clubs or societies where individuals have repeatedly taken advantage of large numbers of children over a period of years, have highlighted a need to protect children further from the risk of child abuse.

iii) Inquiries into various child abuse and exploitation cases have repeatedly found some professionals failing to report child protection concerns (despite being aware of safeguarding issues), which have resulted in further abuse and more children being abused.

iv) Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, who is heading the Government's review of historical child abuse allegations proposed in July that Government should consider stronger corporate duties on adults to protect children living away from home, in institutions like care homes or boarding schools, known as mandatory reporting. 

v) The Alexis Jay report into the sexual exploitation of children revealed a systematic failure of the authorities to respond to reports of child abuse, that reports were suppressed and that victims were often regarded as willing participants in their own abuse or as criminals. 

Conference believes that:

a) Peter Wanless's proposals do not go far enough, and millions of children at non-boarding schools, sports clubs and other leisure clubs would not be covered by them.

b) Legislation needs to empower and protect any whistleblower who becomes aware of a child at risk of abuse.

c) Certain specific exclusions are necessary for confidential helplines such as ChildLine, where children calling in believe that everything they disclose is entirely confidential.

d) That the operation of criminal gangs targeting vulnerable children for abuse is unlikely to be limited to a few isolated areas, and that experiences in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere should serve as a wake-up call to authorities everywhere.

Conference calls for Liberal Democrat parliamentarians to press for:

1. A legal duty on all staff working in regulated activity to report to the local authority and police known abuse or reasonable suspicion of abuse.

2. All staff working in contact with children who have to complete CRB forms to have training in recognising the early signs of child abuse, and the routes to reporting.

3. Government to sponsor a strong public campaign to make children confident with reporting incidents that they feel uncomfortable about.

4. Legislation to protect whistleblowers who come in to contact with children, to empower them to report incidents without fear of the impact on their own position.

5. Robust reforms of procedures and culture in council and police services, so that victims and their families receive the service that they should be entitled to expect, and perpetrators are brought to justice.

6. The widening and strengthening of the role of the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) to be able to  intervene when a child or young person at risk has been ignored by a statutory service such as the Police or Social Services.  

7. Politicians, council officers and police responsible for failures in Rotherham and elsewhere to be held to account.

8. Surety that policies on racial awareness are never interpreted as conflicting with the duty to investigate and prosecute crimes irrespective of the racial identity of the perpetrators.


Applicability: England only.

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