Calls for 'Daniel Pelka's Law' over reporting abuse

Daniel Pelka
Image caption Daniel Pelka died from a head injury in March 2012

A petition calling for a law to make it mandatory to report suspected child abuse has been signed by 50,000 people.

It will be handed to 10 Downing Street ahead of the publication of a serious case review into the murder of four-year-old Daniel Pelka by his mother and her partner in March 2012.

Daniel, from Coventry, was starved and beaten for months before he died.

Despite the concerns of both teachers and doctors, there was no intervention by child protection agencies.

The trial last month of Magdelena Luczak, 27, and Mariusz Krezolek, 34, heard Daniel saw a doctor in hospital for a broken arm, arrived at school with bruises and facial injuries, and was seen scavenging for food.

'Preventative effect'

Children's charity NSPCC has launched a campaign, called Now I Know, to put its telephone help line ChildLine in every primary school in an attempt to stop abuse.

The petition was started by Paula Barrow, a mother-of-two from Manchester, after hearing about the Pelka case. She said she wanted a new law removing "uncertainty" over how professionals should act.

Mrs Barrow said after talking to specialist lawyers she wanted to see a system similar to that for corporate manslaughter.

"What they say is that criminal prosecution would not be imposed in all but the most exceptional cases," she said.

"It is the preventative effect that is important here.

Several charities support the call for a change in the law.

Fay Maxted, chief executive of The Survivors Trust, said: "If law is introduced, staff will have no doubt what to do, and they would have legal protection from recrimination which presently can follow when a member of staff takes the conscientious step of reporting."

'Outdated' guidance

Peter Garsden, president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers and adviser to the Innocence in Danger charity, said child protection framework was outdated and left children at risk.

"The introduction of mandatory reporting would far better protect children and staff when concerns arise."

Image caption Mariusz Krezolek and Magdelena Luczak had denied murder and blamed each other

The NSPCC's chief executive Peter Wanless said the Jimmy Savile case had helped show people what happened if they did not speak up.

"Protection after the event, vital as it is, can't attack the root causes of the problem," he said.

"We want everyone to play their part by looking out for children and reinforcing the messages about speaking up.

"The future tide of child abuse cannot be turned without this."

When he died from a head injury at his home in Coventry, Warwickshire, Daniel weighed just over a stone-and-a-half.

Luczak and Krezolek were convicted of murder, given life sentences and told they would serve a minimum of 30 years.

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