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Will the next Prime Minister please stand up to stop child abuse?

In his latest blog, Dino Nocivelli calls for the next Prime Minister to take action to put a stop to child abuse.

Posted on 15 August 2022

Will the next Prime Minister please stand up to stop child abuse?

As the date looms for Conservative members to choose the next Prime Minister, one area that the country deserves answers to is how the two candidates would propose to better safeguard against child abuse and how they would challenge abuse within Westminster itself.

Criminal justice system

Boris Johnson, who is in the final days of his time as Prime Minister, has made inappropriate comments previously in respect of child sexual abuse investigations, describing investigations into “historic child abuse” as money “spaffed up a wall". 

Johnson has failed to apologise for his choice of words on numerous occasions and any apology from him now is unlikely.

The fact he said such words even though he attended Ashdown House, the same school where Alex Renton suffered abuse, merely compounds my disgust at the words that he used. 

Since he became Prime Minister the criminal justice system has faced significant delays. What will Sunak and Truss do to ensure that justice is reintegrated into the criminal justice system? Words and promises will no longer cut it with those that try to use the criminal process to obtain a sense of justice and closure.

Therapeutic support

Waiting lists are at breaking point in every area of the NHS but one area that has always been shamefully underfunded is mental health therapy.

It is important that survivors of abuse have reasonable access to specialist therapy rather than facing waits of varying months on end dependent on which area of the country they live in.

The extending wait for help only worsens a survivor’s condition and further affects their ability to work, their relationships with others, their potential use of alcohol and/or drugs and it raises the risk of self-harm and suicide.

When survivors do obtain therapy, they can find the therapist does not specialise in sexual abuse and/or that the help available is limited to a set number of sessions which means that issues remain outstanding. Will Sunak and Truss promise to ensure that mental health is treated on a par with physical health and that they will ensure that specialist therapy is available at the point of need for survivors?

Mandatory reporting

England remains an anomaly to most of the developed world in not having mandatory reporting of child abuse.

This is an important tool that would help take the burden off survivors in having to report their abuse. This has obvious inherent difficulties and it can take many years (if at all) for survivors to be able to disclose their abuse. Mandatory reporting will also help to stop abuse and to prevent abuse of others.

For far too long we have relied upon those in positions of trust to do the right thing and yet when they fail they face no criminal repercussions at all, while if they do act on concerns they receive limited to no protection. It is time that mandatory reporting for child abuse is brought into law - will Sunak or Truss do this or will it be akin to the USA where apologies are doled out to those who have lost loved ones to shootings but nothing changes?

Abuse within Westminster itself

Abuse by MPs should be a national outrage and a key thing for the incoming Prime Minister to address. It is unacceptable in my opinion for a MP to be able to continue to act as a MP when there is an active investigation into child abuse against them but sadly this was not the case for Johnson as shown in the case of Imran Khan who was even able to sit on a panel advising on grooming gangs while under police caution.

Will Sunak and Truss denounce such acts and guarantee that MPs who face abuse allegations will be suspended pending a full investigation, as would happen in any other job?

Hope? Let’s wait and see

We shall wait and see who the next Prime Minister will be but regardless of who it is, it is important that their actions rather than their words are carefully judged when it comes to trying to deal with child abuse.

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Dino Nocivelli

Dino is an experienced child sexual abuse claims lawyer

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