Where AML leads, Kier Starmer follows

The fabulously-named Kier Starmer (the UK’s former Director of Public Prosecutions) is all over the news today, calling for a mandatory reporting law around child abuse, with those who fail to report facing prison sentences (as is already the case in America, Canada and Australia, for instance).  Well helloooooo – we in AML have been doing that for years.  In fact, I would be surprised if Mr Starmer hadn’t based his suggestion on the AML requirement (appearing in the UK as the three offences of “failure to disclose”, sections 330, 331 and 332 of the Proceeds of Crime Act).

To quote from Mr Starmer on the Beeb: “It’s a very simple proposition.  If you’re in a position of authority or responsibility in relation to children, and you have cause to believe that a child has been abused, or is about to be abused, you really ought to do something about it.  There are just too many examples of cases where those who have suspected abuse have not really done anything about it and the perpetrator has either got away with it or, worse still, been able to perpetuate the offending.”  And who would be covered by the reporting requirement?  Again, from Mr Starmer: “I would have a reasonably broad category of individuals that were subject to the law.  Obviously school teachers, but others in a position of authority or responsibility in relation to children, including other educational institutions, even sporting institutions.”  What might be suitable here is a tiered approach, as we have in AML with stiffer penalties for those in positions of specific AML responsibility (what PoCA terms “nominated officers”).

Of course, Mr Starmer is the ex-DPP, not the current incumbent.  And according to the Beeb, a spokesman for the Department for Education said in response to his suggestion: “Mandatory reporting is not the answer.  Professionals should refer immediately to social care when they are concerned about a child.  Other countries have tried mandatory reporting and there is no evidence to show that it is a better system for protecting children.”  But – as anyone working in AML can confirm – it sure does concentrate the mind.

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4 Responses to Where AML leads, Kier Starmer follows

  1. come on! the NSA knows who everyone is - you dont need to says:

    The difference is that the AML laws are in place because they counterbalance the financial benefits that banks get from turning a blind eye. The financial sector also makes money from their product and can place a proportion aside to pay compliance costs.

    Not reporting child abuse does not bring benefit for the non reporter – I fear this law will create even more bureacracy and false allegations (see the recent murder by mob as an example of what can go wrong). A better way of tackling this is resourcing social services and investigation teams appropriately – but that would cost money, so the right solution will not be chosen.

  2. I’m not sure I agree with your premise that “AML laws are in place because they counterbalance the financial benefits that banks get from turning a blind eye”. I believe that AML laws are in place because money laundering is a damaging process that should be discouraged. And I very much hope – it is certainly the position I take during my training – that the majority of reporting staff make their reports not because of the law, and not to balance the blind eye, but because they feel that money laundering is wrong and should be exposed. The “failure to disclose” offence is there as a reminder, and as a punishment for those who flagrantly ignore what is obvious. And personally, I think that the child services sector would benefit from a similar arrangement – reminder for the majority, and well-deserved punishment for the few.
    Best wishes from Susan

  3. Pingback: First do no laundering | I hate money laundering

  4. come on! the NSA knows who everyone is - you dont need to says:

    Well, lending money to drug addicts so they can buy crack is a damaging process that should be discouraged. But we don’t have specific laws and regulations and a whole industry around it. Why not? Because banks don’t make money if they do it, whereas banks definitely DO make money if they have weak controls on laundering criminal funds. Look at how much HSBC or Wachovia made.

    Susan – your industry would not exist without regulations. Banks do not do it because they get a warm fuzzy. Some individuals on the inside do the right thing, but in general the financial sector needs AML laws as a big stick. My point was that non disclosure of child abuse is not a financial incentive for most people in society, so another law is not going to be worthwhile.

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