The defense of qualified privilege permits persons in positions of authority or trust to make statements or relay or report statements that would be considered slander and libel if made by anyone else. (Definition courtesy of wikipedia). Qualified privilege is frequently quoted as a defence by people reporting "concerns" about others or by public bodies to prevent [eg Child Protection] concerns being surpressed.
Although the defence of qualified privilege may be defeated if the accusation is shown to be malicious, this is incredibly difficult to prove in court. in practice what happens is that many, many frivolous concerns are raised wasting a lot of people's time. There is no requirement for any substantiation to an allegation and knowledge that workers have this defence reduce the onus on them to be professional.
False accusations wreck families. Anyone can submit a referral for the most bizarre and weird interpretations of childrens innocent conversation without making any effort to engage further with the child to understand what was meant. Once submitted, it can not be deleted, however incompetent the person who raised the referral. Is this justice?
We must record acurrate statistics for the number of Child Protection referrals which are NOT investigated by Social Services so we can state the % of false accusationseach year. Current Home Office Statics and (brilliant) false accusation support organisations estimate it to be around 40%.
If the defence of qualified privilege is removed, then people submitting child protection referrals will require more than snippets of a child's conversation to accuse you. They will be forced to be competent by statute.
Fewer referrals will mean more resources to dedicate to the serious cases of child abuse, many of which have dominated the news recently.
The measure of whether this has been achieved will be an increase in the % of referrals progressing to the next stage (case hearing) ie the dross is eliminated leaving Social Work only the [more] serious cases to concentrate on.
Why is this idea important?
Many false accusations are initiated from no evidence or over-exuberant or poorly trained people.
Referrals = work = time = money. Removing unfounded accusations will save time and mooney and release resources for more urgent requirements.
False accusations destroy families, the very people Child Protection is supposedly trying to protect. It is devastatiing. Don't allow Social Workers and childcare workers to ruin other's lives.
Protect the functional family. Remove qualified privilege. Please.