Crying Child
The UN has urged the UK to change its approach to spankingCreative Donkey/Flickr

A UN review of whether Britain is living up to the global covenant on civil and political rights says the UK should bring in laws to stop parents and teachers from hitting children, among other things.

"[The UK] should take practical steps, including through legislative measures where appropriate, to put an end to corporal punishment in all settings," said the review published 23 July, "including the home".

On top of this, Britain should carry out public information campaigns to tell people about the harmful effects of hitting children and "should encourage non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to corporal punishment".

In England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, parents and teachers can currently use the defence of "reasonable punishment" or "justifiable assault" for smacking children and there is no "explicit prohibition of corporal punishment".

The report also turned to Britain's new counter-terrorism laws, saying that the UK should revise its definition of terrorism to include "intent to coerce, compel or intimidate a government or section of the public".

Time limits on the length immigrants can be detained in immigration removal centres in the UK also need reconsideration, the review found, as there is no limit at the moment.

Access to abortion in Northern Ireland was also a concern the report said. "As a matter of priority [the UK should] amend its legislation on abortion in Northern Ireland with a view to providing for additional exceptions to the legal ban on abortion, including in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality."