The government will make a decision by September 2016 on whether to go forward with proposals to jail social workers for up to five years for failing to protect children from sexual exploitation.
In its response to a report into the Rotherham sexual exploitation scandal, the government confirmed that a consultation on the controversial plan to extend the crime of wilful neglect to children’s social workers, teachers and councillors will be held this year and a final decision will be made by September 2016 at the latest. Wilful neglect is a crime that carries a maximum jail sentence of five years.
Failure to take action
“The consultation will seek views on sanctions for failure to take action on child abuse or neglect where it is a professional responsibility to do so,” the government said.
“‘Wilful neglect’ would impose criminal sanctions for those who are found guilty of deliberate, wilful or reckless neglect or mistreatment of children. It would cover inaction, concealment and/or deliberate cover ups and would ensure that those responsible for the very worst failures in care can be held accountable,” the response said.
The proposals received fierce criticism from the social work sector when they were announced in March, with an online petition opposing the announcement generating more than 11,000 supporters.