More than 30 MPs have signed a letter in support of a private member’s bill which would extend the legal definition of child neglect to include emotional harm.
The Child Maltreatment bill, tabled by Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams, is set for a second reading on November 22, after failing to find time in the parliamentary schedule during July.
Charity Action for Children has drafted an open letter to Damien Green, who is the Conservative Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice. It calls on the Minister to use the second reading to fully explore the issues highlighted by the act.
Action for Children believes the current law surrounding child neglect is out of date and no longer fit for purpose.
“The law excludes emotional and developmental neglect which are now known to be hugely damaging to the development of children.”
The charity adds:
“The wording of the criminal offence stems from 1868. It’s out-dated and confusing creating difficulties for police officers and social workers to use the criminal law to respond to neglect when it is appropriate.”
The campaign has also attracted support from high profile former judge Baroness Butler-Sloss, who stated earlier this year:
“’The current law explicitly fails to recognise the full range of harm done to neglected children, and creates problems of practice and interpretation for legal professionals. This cannot be our best effort as law makers at protecting neglected children, and so I am determined to see through a reform of the law in this area. I invite my fellow parliamentarians to support this as a matter of great importance and urgency.”