Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Mandatory Reporting - The First 21 mins of 'After Savile'

Anyone recognise the above pullover - no it's not one of Jimmy's !  But I will come back to it later !!

I must be a real glutton for punishment because I have watched the darned thing again from the start and here is how it went !

'Tonight, Panorama uncovers shocking evidence that schools and hospitals failed to protect children from serial sex abusers'. 
'Secret government files show how paedophiles were able to move freely from institution to institution, putting children in danger.  As more stories emerge of Jimmy Savile's abuse there are calls for a change in the law'

By way of an introduction to a few of the folk who make an important contribution to the show we hear from 'Celia' (C) and Keir Starmer the FORMER HEAD OF THE DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) in the UK !
Here's what 'C' has to say  
"The Government need to step up.  They need to open the doors properly that people are able to speak out and they don't lose their jobs, and they don't feel scared of helping another human being".

And then the 'former Director of Public Proscutions (Keir Starmer) delivers his short, sharp plea that "people who don't report abuse should face jail"

So that's the introductions out of the way. We will of course, see and hear more from both KS and 'C' later in the show (I have already covered her contribution to the issue in my last blog post) but first we are told about the case of a real incident/s of abuse, for which the perpetrator was found guilty in a court of law !

I won't cover the whole story, but it involves a place called Downside School - a RC boarding school sometime in the 1980's.  At the trial in 2012, Rob Hastings (who learned about the Police investigation in 2011 following a trawl by the Devon and Somerset Police), was shocked to learn that, his abuser had abused another boy a year before he abused him sometime in the 1980's, but, despite an admission of guilt had been allowed to continue in his role.  In short, the school had chosen to keep the matter a secret. Rather than protect it's children they had protected themselves by seeking legal advice.  Their solicitor confirmed that there was no legal requirement to inform the police about such allegations. Rob was removed BY HIS PARENTS who had made the complaint to the school in the first place, whilst the monk was moved, quietly to an abbey in Scotland away from children.

 Sanchia Berg (SB) then makes the following staement :

"Ever since the revelations about Jimmy Savile, I've been investigating the secret historical record, looking at what government officials KNEW about abuse in childrens homes and boarding schools.  I've unearther declassified government files going back to the 1950's.
What they show is that, more than 60 years ago, Senior Civil Servants recognised school authorities, routinely HID child abuse, preferring instead to protect the reputations of their own institutions"

Hang onto the phrase readers 'what govt officials KNEW about abuse in childrens homes ..' I will return to it later !

The NEXT part of the show certainly ignited my interest once I engaged my brain and thought CAREFULLY about WHAT IT TELLS US about how suspicions/complaints of child abuse USED TO BE HANDLED  !

We are introduced to a woman who, in 1950, helped bring an abuser to Justice, in spite of the school Governors best efforts to bury the story !

This is the story about what happened at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School in 1950 :

"It all began when the assistant M overheard some boys talking about their old housemaster saying that he had sexually assaulted them"

We are told that the following came from the file under 'STATEMENT OF ASSISTANT MATRON'

Bascically, the AS took statements from the boys about the master who was by now working at another school (a Barnado's school) and took these to a Senior Governor of the school.  He did nothing and after a few months, the lady showed THE COPIES OF THE STATEMENTS to another staff member, the Police were called and the man confessed to criminal activity at both establishments.

What's interesting here is that the file also contains a 62 YEAR OLD LETTER from a Senior Civil Servant in the Home Office to the DPP containing these words :

'It looks as though the Governors, having knowledge there was Primae Facae evidence of criminal offences decided to keep quiet. not to inform the Police'

BUT, it was not JUST the school Governors who failed to report, the DPP itself, REFUSED TO CONFRONT THE GOVERNORS afterwards on the basis that there was 'no criminal offence with which they could be charged' !

Cue question about the situation now to Starmer who confirmed that the position in Law has not changed

 'Keir Starmer said under a British "mandatory reporting" law, those who failed to act could be sent to jail.'

The BBC article on the programme goes on :

'While statutory guidance has been issued previously urging professionals such as teachers, doctors and social workers to report child abuse, failure to do so is not a crime in England, Scotland and Wales.'

Mr Starmer, who was succeeded as director of public prosecutions by Alison Saunders on Friday, said it was time to "plug a gap in the law" that had been there for a "very, very long time".

But not everyone is convinced that this is the way to go, further down the page :

And Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of the Action for Children, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We are not convinced that making it mandatory will do what we need it to do."

The Dept of Education had this to say :
'Other countries have tried MR and there is no evidence that it is a better stratergy for protecting children.  In fact, there is evidence to show it can make children LESS SAFE'

THE NSPCC are not in favour of a change in the law either !

Here's more from their twitter feed on the question - look out for the last response from 'Andi Lavery'  ....Well, it made me smile anyway !

The programme makers took great pains to research the case of the diligent Assistant Matron, ferreting out the now, declassified File from the National Archives.  BUT WHAT DOES THE CASE ACTUALLY TELL US ?

IT TELLS US that, there is, after all NO NEED for Mandatory Reporting ! The Ass Matron was no heroine, she was just doing the job she was being paid to do.  Whilst she was not listened to by her immediate superiors, her colleague did assist her to take the complaint to the Police.

From the unclassified File :

  'Statement of the Assistant Matron' 

'From the verbal remarks it appeared that these things had gone on for a long time and had involved a considerable number of boys'

It is strange that Meirion Jones should produce a film that appears to favour Mandatory Reporting.  After all, none of the staff  at his aunts school was aware of any claims of inappropriate behaviour on the part of Jimmy Savile.  There again, how would he know ....


Let's reunite that jumper with it's famous occupant shall we ?

The Killing (Danish: Forbrydelsen [fʌˈb̥ʁyðˀəlsən],[1] "The crime") is a Danish police procedural three-season long television drama series created by Søren Sveistrup and produced by DR. It was first broadcast on the Danish national television channel DR1 on 7 January 2007, and has since been transmitted in a number of other countries worldwide.





  1. If it's such a wonderful idea why didn't Starmer expedite this while he had the power to do so? He must be the worst DPP in the history of the UK legal system; what a horrible, terrible mess he has bequeathed to his successor. He hasn't even got the decency to butt out and leave his successor some elbow room to begin to put this legal mess back together.

  2. What get's me is Starmer's reaction to the 1950's story - almost one of surprise that these thing actually went .... well, HELLO !
    But, back to the important people, why, when 'Senior Civil Servants recognised school authorities ROUTINELY HID CHILD ABUSE' did those same public servants DO NOTHING to make sure this stopped ?

    1. This business of authorities hiding "child" abuse is something of a modern invention. I think what happened was that gay relationships between "teachers" and post-pubescent teenage boys were "ignored". The current confusion is a lot about terminology I think, where teenagers are conflated as children. The big "child abuse" stories such as "Bryn Estyn" are all about homosexual activities involving teenagers, at a time when the sexual activity was illegal at various differing ages, but society was actively grappling with the breaking down of traditional morality issues and nobody quite knew where to draw a line. Up until as recently as 2002 it was illegal for any male below 19 to engage any sex at all with another male.

  3. On a different subject. I see that Mark Williams Tw is now calling himself a visiting professor. Is there no limit to his false claims.

    1. The only limit seems to be the credulity of others.

    2. Not sure if the media have simply screwed up anyway. This item seems to be suggesting it is Donal McIntyre who is the "Professor".

      Apparently Phil Redmond - inventor of Brookside & Hollyoaks is a Prof nowadays. All part of the dumbing-down process I imagine. Phil attended the "New Order in Policing" seminar I once blogged about.

  4. I'm not totally up on what Mandatory Reporting actually means in practice .. I will do some research and present a blog piece about it. We must know where these guys are trying to take us. The objectors see a flood of reports overwhelming an already stretched service. Can you imagine the implications for Justice in this country ? Soon enough folk will be saying, forget the trial just sling me in prison now !!!

    1. One consequence could easily be that once a case is considered proven in court, then all those who "failed to report it" would become liable to prosecution too.

      You can already see elements of this sort of potential litigation in the developing Hillsborough scenario where folks are now going to be subject to charges of manslaughter - apparently.

    2. This is the key. A single false accusation could lead to a cascade of prosecutions of the entirely innocent, because they "didn't report it".

      I would hope that Starmer means that if a documentary trail of evidence were to be found indicating that a responsible person knew of the abuse, and didn't report that to the police, they could be guilty. However, I think his real intention is to grab more prosecutions "for the sake of the children" by hunting down all sorts of bystanders, those innocent of the facts as well as the commission of the actual crime.

      It looks and smells like a numbers game to me, for the politicos to show they are tough on crime.

    3. missed the word "alleged" between "actual" and "crime" at the end of the second paragraph.

  5. My first reaction - Is this a bad thing - My second reaction is, it will be, because corporate liability/ manslaughter could, potentially be done away with - just blame the little guy ??

  6. It is perhaps interesting to note that when the whole North Wales Abuse saga kicked off in the early nineties, it was due to what Richard Webster claims was the malicious accusations of a recently sacked employee. He provides good evidence for this in his book on the matter. He identifies this person by name in the book, but it is not on his website and I won't mention it here.

    I worry that people who claim abuse in such settings are automatically believed and their claims are not properly scrutinised - which is of course not the same thing as ignoring their claims.

  7. How many people really have the courage to be whistleblowers? Not very many in fact, though we all like tot think we would do the right thing, even at considerable personal cost.

    At Downside School (mentioned on Panorama) there were no whistleblowers. The abuse happened, it was covered up, and nobody sad anything. The police happened across the case by accident more than 20 years later in the course of an unrelated investigation.

    That's more than 20 years of abuse being known of at the school. More than 20 years of the abuser being known of and living in the monastery next door for the majority of that time. And nobody said anything to the police or social services.

    The reward many whisteblowers receive for doing the right thing is the sack. Most people know that, and few have the courage. That is why mandatory reporting is needed. Few head teachers will risk time in jail to cover up somebody else's abuse.

    1. Interesting link here, which suggests matters at Downside were/are not exactly clear-cut.


    2. Yes, but move on a year and you have this.

      Monk jailed for abusing two boys at Somerset school

      and this (concerning investigations into SEVEN monks there)

      Catholic monks faced child abuse investigation, school admits

      "Of the seven monks from Downside, he said four had faced police action and two, against whom allegations "were founded" , had restrictions imposed on their ministry. The seventh was cleared and allowed to return to his monastic life."

      Or how about Ealing Abbey? Abuse went on there for 60 years without any whistleblowers

  8. I see that the BBC are to be occupied today at 1pm - sorry I won't be there ! here's some info

    1. I wonder if they'll protesting about the wilfully gullibile approach of the Mainstream Media to false accusations of rape.