This relates to an adult that gains information that causes the adult to believe on reasonable grounds that a child sexual offence is or has been committed by another adult. ‘Child’ means any person who is under 16 years old. If the adult fails to disclose the information to a police officer as soon as they are aware of the information, they commit an offence. A person may be exempt from reporting the offence if they have a ‘reasonable excuse’.
Without limiting what may be a reasonable excuse, an adult has a reasonable excuse if:
- The adult reasonably believes that the information has already been disclosed to the police.
- the adult gains the information after the child becomes an adult (the alleged victim), and the adult reasonably believes the alleged victim does not want the information to be disclosed to a police officer.
- the adult reasonably believes disclosing the information to a police officer would endanger the safety of the adult or another person (including the victim), other than the alleged offender, AND failure to disclose the info is reasonable in the circumstances
This is a non-exhaustive list of what may be considered a ‘reasonable excuse’. This means that other excuses may be deemed reasonable.
If a person (victim) is over the age of 16 and under the age of 18, if they have capacity, they can request to keep the information in relation to their child sexual abuse confidential.
The reason why it is mandatory to report instances of child sexual abuse in relation to a person 16 years or younger is because any person under the age of 16 is not capable of understanding the effects of sexual abuse.
Further information to this requirement can be found here.
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