Childhood abuse and neglect
Under new proposed changes to the Criminal Justice Bill the UK government is taking action to stop child sexual abuse predators by beefing up the power of the UK police to prevent name changes of sex offenders Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

UK children will now be protected from child sexual abuse as the Sunak government is planning to introduce tougher laws for child safety.

The UK Home Office announced stricter child abuse laws on February 21 which would be introduced in the Criminal Justice Bill in the House of Commons.

UK Home Secretary James Cleverly introduced new plans to enhance child safety in the UK and better protection from sexual predators on Wednesday.

The UK government is planning to include a legal requirement for everyone dealing with children in the UK to report child sexual abuse. Teachers and healthcare professionals who are involved in activities related to children can report any instance of sexual abuse.

Failure to report child sexual abuse incidents despite being aware of it will be regarded as not fulfilling legal duties, as per the toughened laws. This will lead to the dismissal of working professionals from working with children and young people in the future.

The UK Home Office further revealed that the proposed law will label anyone who protects child sexual abusers as "criminals" and may face up to seven years of prison sentence. Individuals who protect child predators, either by blocking others from reporting child abuse incidents or covering up the crime will face charges.

Through this legal requirement, the UK government is trying to comply with the key recommendation of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) which asks authorities to never turn a blind eye to crime against children. An IICSA report to protect children from harm advised authorities to take prompt action against such matters.

UK Home Secretary James Cleverly spoke of this when he said: "There is no excuse for turning a blind eye to a child's pain."

"Having listened to the voices of victims and survivors and reviewed the work of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, we are working at pace to get a mandatory reporting duty for child sexual abuse onto the statute book," the Home Secretary added.

This comes days after the Online Safety Law that promises to tackle cyberbullying came into force.

More powers to the UK police to tackle child sexual abuse

The Rishi Sunak government is also beefing up the powers given to the UK police in matters of child sexual abuse by asking them to prevent name changes of sex offenders who still pose a risk to communities. Under the new law, sexual offenders will be prohibited from changing names on official documents like passport and driving licence.

According to the government, the actions suggested will prevent criminals from committing repeated offences as they become aware that the full force of the law is behind it.

Cleverly explained how this will work as the UK police will be equipped with "more powers to prevent those who have committed abhorrent sexual crimes in the past from evading the police by changing their name".

"We will continue to use all levers at our disposal to tackle this horrific crime and keep women and children safe," the Home Secretary added.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Victims and Safeguarding Laura Farris stressed the importance of the IICSA report as it pointed out how previous legislation has failed to protect UK children.

"This government has introduced robust legislation for protecting children. But we know children were failed in the past, and that's why we commissioned the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse," said Farris.

Farris explained how the mandatory legal requirement sends a clear message that UK children are safe in "schools, sports settings or any supervised environment".

"As someone who worked on the Inquiry before coming into politics, this is personal to me. We will continue to support the police in the toughest crackdown on anyone who poses a risk to children," Farris added.

The UK has the toughest sex offenders law in the world and the legal requirement will build on it. This will be further enhanced with investment in programmes that tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation like the £6.5 million Tackling Organised Exploitation (TOEX) programme which syncs local, regional and national data.

It also includes £1.9 million in funding for a new Child Sexual Exploitation Police Taskforce to support on-ground forces, especially group-based child sexual exploitation like grooming gangs.

This comes at a time when the UK police came across the world's first digital rape case where a group of men sexually abused a UK teenager's digital avatar.

The Chief Executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) Gabrielle Shaw welcomed the new legal requirement as it would "increase accountability" in duty care people.

"The introduction of mandatory reporting is a big step in the right direction, which must be implemented alongside an approach that prioritises the wellbeing of the child and ensures they have access to ongoing, specialist support. This will require investment in training requirements, wider supporting structures and effective tracking and review," said Shaw.