Make Failure to Report Child Sex Abuse Crimes Illegal


The government of England has announced plans to legally require people who work with children to report any signs of child sexual abuse, or face prosecution. The move follows recommendations made last year by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). Home Secretary Suella Braverman is expected to provide more details in the coming days.

The IICSA’s final report revealed a “horrific and deeply disturbing” scale of abuse in England and Wales, with around 7,000 victims providing testimonies to the seven-year inquiry. Ms Braverman told the BBC that while the fault lay with the perpetrators, there was also “a social ignorance” among authorities. 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.

In an article written for the Mail on Sunday, Ms Braverman said she had “committed to introduce mandatory reporting across the whole of England”. She said authorities had “turned a blind eye” due to cultural sensitivities and not wanting to come across as racist. Labour’s Tracy Brabin, mayor of West Yorkshire, called this a “dog whistle”. Shadow levelling-up secretary Lisa Nandy criticised the government for consulting on its plans before adopting them and said the number of convictions for child sexual exploitation had halved in the last four years.

The NSPCC welcomed the move but said more work was needed in order to improve the understanding of who was at risk, as well as an “overhaul” of support for those already suffering the consequences of abuse. The Liberal Democrats also welcomed the move but said the government must now clear the record backlog of cases in courts.

The government’s plans to legally compel people to report any signs of child sexual abuse are an important step in tackling this national scandal. It is essential that those who fail in their responsibilities face the full force of the law and that victims receive the support they need. The government must now ensure that these plans are implemented swiftly and effectively, so that no more children suffer in silence.