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                                  Law Reform and Child Protection

Welcome to this special edition of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Student Law Review. The
focus of this edition is on reforming the law on child protection. This is analysed from the broad
perspective of how law reform works, as well as from the specific perspective of the need for
enhanced child protection measures, particularly, the case for making it mandatory to report
suspected child abuse to the authorities. Mandatory reporting of child abuse is firmly on the political
radar now, with all three Westminster parties showing support for amending the law in this regard.
This issue is particularly apposite given recent child abuse scandals.

This edition arose out of a workshop organised by the Sir William Dale Legislative Drafting Clinic on
mandatory reporting of child abuse held on the 10th of December 2013. Mandatory reporting of child
abuse cases is an issue of debate amongst the legislative, professional, and academic community in
the UK. There is no statutory obligation to report abuse in the UK. Is there a causal link between this
lack of statutory obligation and the historic failure of professionals to report child abuse? Would
mandating the reporting of abuse change behaviour? In many of countries in the Commonwealth and
in most US states, mandatory reporting is part of statute law. The workshop considered the necessity
and content of possible legislative intervention in the UK.

The speakers at the workshop were (in alphabetical order):

Peter Garsden (Partner, Abney Garsden Solicitors, President of the Association of Child Abuse

Laura Hoyano (Senior Research Fellow in Law, Wadham College, University of Oxford)

Dr Mazhar Ilahi (Director, Sir William Dale Legislative Drafting Clinic)

Anne Lawrence (Barrister, advisor to MandateNow)

Sir Stephen Laws KCB, QC (former First Parliamentary Counsel)

Peter Turner (Safeguarding Adviser, Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster)

The workshop was chaired by Professor Helen Xanthaki and myself.

The methodology of the workshop was developed by the Sir William Dale Leg-islative Drafting. Clinic.
The Sir William Dale Legislative Drafting Clinic is part of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at the
University of London and provides free legislative drafting advice to clients around the world
promoting a proactive understanding of quality in legislation.

The methodology was an attempt to replicate the law reform process in microcosm by bringing
forward the main questions any legislator should consider when designing or drafting new legislation.
The first question was whether there was a need for legislation. This involved identifying the social
problem, identifying various solutions to that problem and demonstrating that legislation was a
justifiable solution. Legislation, particularly criminal legislation, is generally regarded as the last resort
in addressing social problems.

The second question made a rather large assumption that legislation was necessary and asked about
the content of that legislation. The basic idea of many law reform projects can often be set out quite
                       IALS Student Law Review I Volume 2, Issue 1, Autumn 2014 Special issue, pp 1-3 I Page 1
              This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerciaI-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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