Jail public sector workers who fail to alert police about child abuse, says Cameron

The move follows evidence of multiple failures by the public authorities in Rotherham

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The Independent Online

Social workers, teachers and councillors who fail to alert police to evidence that children are being sexually abused face criminal prosecution and imprisonment, under measures to be announced today by David Cameron.

The move follows evidence of multiple failures by the public authorities in Rotherham, where more than 1,400 girls fell victim to paedophile gangs of mainly Pakistani backgrounds over 16 years.

A damning report last month attacked a “misplaced political correctness” for the town’s council turning a blind eye to the scandal and for trying to silence people who tried to expose the abuse.

Vulnerable children are being put at risk because councils are unable to fill vacant child social worker posts (Getty)

A new criminal offence of wilful neglect of patients by health workers would be extended to cover public sector staff and councillors responsible for the welfare of vulnerable children. It can carry a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.

Council chiefs in areas where young people are groomed and exploited could also have to repay “golden goodbyes” after they leave their jobs.

The planned legislation is likely to face criticism that “wilful neglect” would be difficult to prove in court and could deter some professionals from working with youngsters.

But the Prime Minister will argue it would be a powerful weapon against the “culture of denial” that led to abuse being covered up.


“I’m sending an unequivocal message that professionals who fail to protect children will be held properly accountable and council bosses who preside over such catastrophic failure will not see rewards for that failure. Offenders must no longer be able to use the system to hide their despicable activities,” Mr Cameron will say.

The Prime Minister will also announce the establishment of a new national whistleblowing helpline for public sector staff to raise concerns about suspected abuse.

Police and social services in Oxfordshire will today face wounding criticism of their inability to prevent the abuse, torture and trafficking of more than 300 boys and girls in the last 15 years. It included the enslavement of six girls aged between 11 and 15 by a gang.

The activities of paedophile gangs preying on young people – many of whom were in care – have also been uncovered in Rochdale, Derby, Bristol  and Telford.