RCGP statement on mandatory reporting of child abuse, developed in collaboration with the RCPCH
This statement sets out the RCGP position on mandatory reporting of child abuse, developed in collaboration with the RCPCH. It is produced in the context of the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) (October 2022) and the Government's subsequent call for evidence on an introduction of Mandatory Reporting.
Both the RCGP and RCPCH recognise the extensive evidence and brave testimony shared with the IICSA and consider it imperative that Government action is taken to protect children from abuse in the future.
In implementing any new process, it is critical that all the evidence is considered in order to determine whether this is likely to improve outcomes for children. On this basis, RCGP and RCPCH cannot currently recommend that a blanket mandatory reporting duty is introduced.
Prior to any such introduction, the following 5 recommendations must be met in order maximise the delivery of positive outcomes for children:
1. All types of abuse
Any introduction of a mandatory reporting duty must apply to all forms of child abuse, not individual categories of abuse, so as not to create a ‘hierarchy of abuse’.
2. Children’s rights-based approach
The Government must carry out an assessment of the introduction of mandatory reporting of child abuse, for example using UNICEF’s seven principles of a rights-based approach.
3. Impact assessment
In light of evidence that social care systems cannot always respond to the rise in reports when mandatory reporting is introduced, the Government must carry out a full impact assessment in order to better understand how social care systems will adequately respond to child abuse reports.
4. Outcomes for children
Should the Government proceed with mandatory reporting, clear, defined outcomes for children should be identified and built into any proposals so that the result of an introduction of mandatory reporting is monitored to ensure that it is resulting in better outcomes for children, rather than simply an increase in reports.
5. Clear definitions
The Government must establish and clearly define the practical mechanisms which would exist as a part of a mandatory reporting duty including:
- Thresholds for reporting
- Reporting systems
- Reporting processing
- Abuse types
- Thresholds for culpability
These recommendations and the reasons for not supporting a blanket mandatory reporting duty are explored in more detail in the RCPCH's full position document on mandatory reporting of child abuse (2023), available on the RCPCH’s website.
The report on our response to the Home Office consultation on mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse can be downloaded from our website (PDF file, 211 KB)