Letter: The need to ensure justice for children

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The Independent Online
Sir: The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has long been aware of cases involving the problem of joint pleadings, where both parents deny all knowledge of how the child died, or retain their right to silence, so that a successful prosecution cannot be brought ('Silent parents of dead baby walk free', 16 January).

Amid the heightened public concern about the recent tragic death of Kim Griffin, the NSPCC, as well as civil liberties organisations, recognises that there are no easy answers, as care must be taken to ensure that the rights of defendants are not undermined. We do feel, however, that there are other options which have not been fully explored.

Is it not ironic that, in the area of fraud, there is an exception to the right to silence? We believe there is a need for the legal profession to give serious and urgent consideration to the whole issue of joint pleadings.

In NSPCC's experience, the law appears to be stacked against children and we must ensure that justice is carried out fairly so that our children are properly protected.

We welcome the setting up of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice and hope that when it reports in the summer it will have given serious consideration to this important issue, and will make recommendations that ensure justice for children.

Yours faithfully,



The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

London, EC1

18 January