Shadow Children’s Minister Steve McCabe calls on Minister to reform the law on child neglect

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Steve McCabe MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children’s and Families, questioned Edward Timpson MP, Education Minister, in the House of Commons on the need to update the current law on child neglect which was last updated in the 1930s.

 

During Education Questions on January 6th 2014 Steve McCabe MP asked Edwards Timpson MP if he had held any recent discussions with ministerial colleagues about the law on child neglect and if he was giving any consideration to updating what many professionals argue is an outdated law that can hamper their ability to intervene and protect vulnerable children. The Minister acknowledged this is a very important issue but failed to tell MP’s what plans , if any, the government have to address it.

 

There will be a parliamentary debate on the issue granted by the Backbench Business Committee on 16th January but interestingly enough, as of Thursday 9th January, the government hadn’t decided which minister they should put up from which department to answer the debate with critics arguing that this is further evidence of Michael Gove’s mantra that ‘every child doesn’t matter to him’ and his job is only about school performance and curriculum management. It appears that the government led by Mr Gove is determined to scatter responsibility for child protection issues across the Home Office, Justice Dept and Department for Culture, Media and Sports despite repeated child abuse enquiry conclusions that clear ownership and leadership is required in this difficult area.

 

Steve McCabe MP said:

“The current law on child neglect is out of date and does not reflect widespread changes in society over the last 80 years. The different civil and criminal definitions of neglect create confusion and often pose problems for collaborative working. Action for Children has been spearheading the campaign to update this law and I support their efforts to propose a modern criminal definition of child neglect, especially one which recognises emotional as well as physical abuse.

 

“I was hoping for a stronger indication from the Minister that he was looking at this and working closely with ministerial colleagues to get this issue right, it is really important we ensure that professionals have the best chances of protecting our vulnerable children while making sure we don’t criminalise vulnerable parents. I was hoping for more substance from the Minister on this matter. I am very concerned that the Education Secretary’s lack of enthusiasm for this part of the education brief could make it more difficult to develop coherent child protection strategies.”

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