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Child sex abuse: Failure to report crimes to be made illegal
The UK government has announced plans to make it a criminal offence to fail to report child sex abuse. The new legislation follows a review of the way child sexual abuse has been handled in the past, which found that victims were let down by a “systemic failure” to protect them.
Under the new rules, anyone who has information about child sexual abuse and fails to report it to the authorities could be hit with a prison sentence of up to five years. The government also plans to introduce a new system of “mandatory reporting”, which would require certain professionals, such as teachers and social workers, to report any suspicions of child abuse to the police or other appropriate authorities.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the changes would help to ensure that “children are kept safe from harm and perpetrators of abuse are brought to justice”. “It is simply unacceptable that in some cases those who had a duty to protect children failed to do so and today’s measures will help to ensure that does not happen again,” she said.
The government has also promised to increase the resources available to police forces to investigate and prosecute cases of child sexual abuse. The new legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament in the coming months.
The plans have been welcomed by campaigners, who have long called for tougher action to be taken on child sexual abuse. However, some have warned that the new laws must be properly enforced if they are to have any effect.
The proposals come after the publication of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) report in November 2020, which revealed that children had been let down by a “systemic failure” to protect them from harm. The report also found that some institutions and individuals had failed to report suspicions of abuse to the police.
The government’s plans are a welcome step towards ensuring that those who fail to report child sexual abuse are held to account. However, it is essential that the new laws are properly enforced if they are to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children.