Today the Government announced in the Queen’s Speech that it will bring forward proposals in a Serious Crime Bill to tackle child neglect and ensure it includes emotional and psychological neglect, following intense pressure from Action for Children, Mark Williams MP, and others.
This is the culmination of a long campaign, which has sought to see the law changed through amendments proposed in the House of Lords, and most recently through Mark Williams MP’s Child Maltreatment Bill.
Mark Williams commented:
‘There is currently an anachronism in our laws where the physical or sexual abuse of children is criminal, but emotional and psychological abuse is only criminal if over-16s are the victims. There is a mismatch between a civil law recognises the damage which emotional and psychological abuse has on children, and an outdated Victorian-era criminal law which doesn’t.
‘This modernisation of our laws, a major victory for all those involved in safeguarding children across the UK, will seek to bridge that disparity. We have seen a number of cases involving children who have been emotionally and psychologically abused by their parents, with the police and criminal justice system powerless to do anything.
‘While detail of the legislation is yet to be published, I am reassured by the Government’s willingness to take this issue forward. The proposed legislation will allow agencies to work together more effectively to safeguard children. It will mean justice could be finally available for those children who have parents who quite simply couldn’t have cared less about them.
‘Ever since I was first approached about this issue by Action for Children I have felt the overwhelming case for reforming the criminal law was unassailable and I’m delighted the Government is now taking our proposals forward. This is not the end of the fight to protect children, but it is one more essential piece in a puzzle to ensure all those involved in safeguarding children have every possible tool at their disposal.’