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Abuse Loophole To Be Closed

A loophole in which previous offenders have been able to escape prosecution is to be closed by extending the offence of causing or allowing the death of a child, which was used to prosecute Baby P’s killers, to cover causing or allowing serious physical harm, such as brain damage or broken bones.

This follows a number of cases where prosecutions could not be brought because it was impossible to identify the individual responsible for the abuse. Examples include the cases of a five-month-old baby who suffered a brain haemorrhage and fractured skull and a two-week-old baby with a broken collar bone, ribs and leg. In both cases no one was charged.

Kenneth Clarke today stated that “by making sure this Bill became law we have taken the opportunity to close a terrible loophole which has, until now, allowed people accused of seriously harming a child or vulnerable adult to escape unpunished…we want to do everything possible to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society are kept safe in their homes, and those that abuse their power do not evade justice.”

This new offence, the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act 2012, will also apply where the victim is a vulnerable adult. This will have the effect of ensuring that fewer cases of abuse go undetected and provide a safeguard to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the NSPCC, added: “This change in the law is a real victory for children and has the potential to bring many more child abusers to justice.

Adults can no longer inflict horrific injuries on children and get away with it by staying silent or blaming each other.”

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