Support the #Respect4SocialWork campaign today and celebrate the social work profession.
Make an Enquiry
Contact Us

ADCS and LGA says mandatory reporting will not improve outcomes

Mandatory reporting systems in social work will neither provide greater protection for children and young people nor lead to better outcomes.


This is the stark warning from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Local Government Association in a joint statement opposing the introduction of mandatory reporting or a duty to act.

The government proposed that a legal requirement is introduced on social workers to report child abuse and neglect. The consultation proposed that sanctions for failing to comply with the requirement could range from employer and/or regulatory sanctions to criminal sanctions.

The consultation also proposed a duty to act which would impose a legal requirement on certain groups, professionals or organisations to take appropriate action where they know or suspect that a child is suffering, or is at risk of suffering, abuse or neglect. Appropriate action may include reporting, but it would not be limited to this. In cases where a report has already been made, for example, the duty to act would require further action to be taken if that was appropriate. This might include sharing information with other agencies or taking protective action.

As the focus of the duty to act would be broader than mandatory reporting, sanctions for breaches would apply differently. Under the duty to act, sanctions for breaches would be focused on cases where there were reckless reasons for failure to act, or because practitioners and/or organisations were indifferent to the harm, or potential harm, that might be caused. This means that an individual would have to consciously take a decision not to take action, or take action which was clearly insufficient or inappropriate, in the knowledge that they were not doing the right thing or reckless as to whether they were.

The statement from the ADCS and LGA said: “Introducing mandatory reporting (or a duty to act) will not address the current challenges in protecting children in the UK.”

“This system was introduced in other countries in response to significant levels of undisclosed abuse and a perceived failure by some professionals to report concerns about the neglect and abuse of children and young people.

“There is no evidence that this is the case here, referrals to the police and children’s social care are already higher than in comparable jurisdictions with mandatory reporting systems and rates continue to increase year-on-year,” the statement added.

The organisations also state that existing measures under the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) process which addresses professional negligence in reporting abuse and neglect and can result in de-registration and dismissal are sufficient.

The statement also goes on to warn that introducing mandatory reporting could result in defensive practice. It warns: “Play-it-safe practice driven by fear risks overwhelming a system that is already under significant strain due to increased demand, rising expectations and reducing resources.”

An unintended consequence of mandatory reporting is a distortion of social responsibility, the statement adds, and communities should be empowered to recognise signs of abuse and neglect and be confident in responding appropriately rather than relying on the state to act at all times.

The organisations call for investment of efforts and available respires in prevention, early identification and early help through a range of measures aimed at children ad young people, professionals and the public.

“ADCS and the LGA do not support the introduction of mandatory reporting on child abuse and neglect, nor do we support the introduction of the alternative, a duty to act. We believe any failure to report concern is not likely to be a matter of political indifference but one of ignorance of the signs and symptoms of abuse in the first place. We believe that this can and should be addressed in different ways,” the joint statement concluded.

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

New Deprivation of Liberty court launch for children


A National Deprivation of Liberty Court dealing specifically with applications relating to deprive children of their liberty has been announced by Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division.

The court will deal with applications seeking authorisation to deprive children of their liberty and will be based at the Royal Courts of Justice under the [...]

Read Full Story

Independent review into CSE in Oldham finds child protection procedures were not followed


Some children have been failed by the agencies that were meant to protect them because child protection procedures had not been properly followed, an independent assurance review into historic child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Oldham has found.

Evidence of poor practice was attributed to a structural flaw the review team found in the multi-agency system [...]

Read Full Story

Sixty Second Interview with Chloe Bach


Find out more about our Business Administrator Chloe Bach who has been with WillisPalmer since 2009.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee (oat milk latte)

What 3 things would you put in Room 101?

Migraines, slugs and war

What is your favourite place in the world?

Wherever my family is (but I do love New York)

If you were on death row what [...]

Read Full Story
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today
WP Quality Assured

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram