Child law: resources and politics
Reform of child law is not a party political issue; but it demands political decisions when it comes to the allocation of resources.
A summary of the demands of a new children law and administration might include (only my thoughts):
- A full and independent inquiry – and proper inquisition, buy a senior and appropriately experienced judge – into what has gone wrong with children institutions and recent cover-up of child sexual abuse (detail of and terms of reference for the inquiry is to be dealt with separately from thus summary)
- Clear inter-agency procedures for swift, and properly resourced, response to any present and continuing allegations of child harm (perhaps with an independent overseer of this long-delayed process)
- Clear procedures for arrest and prosecution of all those involved in any way with child abuse (and this will involve a priority being given, and resources diverted for, to investigation of all existing complaints, the most notorious being in Rotherham)
- Priority given to any CIBA claims by survivors of child sex abuse
- An urgent programme of law reform.
Law reform would put the welfare of the child as its paramount concern. It would include:
- Clear procedures for the taking of child evidence; including raising the standard of proof for hearsay evidence from children
- Special immunity for child welfare informants (as with police informants)
- Real procedures for children to be heard – and listened to – within the administrative and court system
- Codification and modernisation of children laws; and a legislative commitment (regardless of party politics) that the new codified Children Act would be reviewed at least every three years.