Commercial and local authority landlords could benefit from urgently reviewing their legal options.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides guidance and advice to improve health and social care. It was asked earlier this year by the Department of Health (DH) and the Department for Education (DfE) to provide guidelines for all professionals on when to report signs of child abuse.
According to the DfE figures, in 2015/16 there were more than 50,000 children known to the Government in England as needing protection from abuse. In 2014/2015, reported incidents of sexual offences against children rose by 38% and incidents of neglect by 10% from the previous year, according to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s (NSPCC) 2015 report.
Under current legislation, however, there is no legal requirement for anyone working with minors in England, Wales or Scotland to report incidents of abuse or concerns to local authorities, children’s services or to the police. This has been the case for the last 60 years, during which time the majority of international policies have made such reporting mandatory. Mandatory reporting would enable early detection of cases that otherwise may not come to the attention of the authorities.
According to Mandate Now, a pressure group campaigning for mandatory reporting legislation in the UK, “The current lack of legislation in England, Wales and Scotland fails staff, children and parents”. The group feels that the Government needs to introduce a much stronger culture of prevention upon which reliance can be placed.
The draft NICE guidelines, which were published in February, are due to be finalised and published in September. They inform professionals what to do when they feel something that is wrong. They list ‘soft’ signs that should be considered as potential abuse in children, and there is guidance on signals that should cause professionals to suspect abuse, and instigate an investigation.
At Anthony Collins Solicitors, we have extensive experience of working with people who have endured sexual, physical, emotional or mental abuse. A common theme in these scenarios is for the people who have suffered abuse to feel let down by public authorities, who have failed to intervene and to protect them from further harm. We, therefore, welcome the proposed changes to these NICE guidelines. Hopefully, further changes will be designed to help those who are suffering abuse to gain access to appropriate care and to protect them from further abuse.
For further information
The Cabinet Office has published guidance asking for people to act responsibly, fairly and “in the national interest”.
To help our charity clients look to the future, we summarise key guidance and updates over the last week.
On 18 May 2020, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) wrote to all social housing residents in England (residents).
For anyone who is currently restrained from holding their General Meeting or have held such in breach of their governing documents, help is on the way!
Social landlords may be surprised to learn that “landlords should be able to carry out routine as well as essential repairs for most households”.
Many housing providers are now re-thinking about gathering information to complete their data return to the Regulator of Social Housing, with the initial exercise having been delayed by Covid-19.
With many premises being left unoccupied (or minimally occupied) during the lockdown, both Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive have warned of the increased risks of Legionella.
The Court of Appeal judgement in Booth and another v R  EWCA Crim 575 will be welcome news for local authority prosecutors and their investigation teams.
The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on 4 April.
To receive invitations to our events, as well as information and articles on legal issues and sector developments that are of interest to you, please sign up to Newsroom.