Hundreds of parents face PRISON under new smacking law – shock report

Posted on May 6 2019 - 3:08am by admin

According to Police Liaison Unit (PLU) data in Wales, forces in the Principality expect 1,370 new smacking crimes could be recorded in five years when the reasonable chastisement defence is removed. 

The figures currently relate only to Wales where legislation for a ban has been introduced into the Welsh Assembly in March and is set to be passed later this year with the backing of Labour and Plaid Cymru.

But campaigners have calculated that proposals to introduce the same law in Scotland and England will mean thousands of parents could face jail.

Official correspondence also implies that thousands more could have their names recorded on the National Law Enforcement database following reports of smacking, potentially ‘blacklisting’ them from working with young people and vulnerable adults.

Campaign group Be Reasonable said the news is confirmation that the Government’s plans will “cause misery to hundreds of families across Wales” and potentially thousands more across the rest of the UK.

Be Reasonable spokesman Jamie Gillies said: “The Government keeps claiming that the ban will not criminalise ordinary parents, disingenuously saying that they are not creating a new offence. But they are making a hitherto legal action illegal and no amount of spin can hide this.  

“Now these official police figures remove the last fig leaf they were hiding behind. 

“Changing the law will lead to hundreds of ordinary parents being prosecuted, and even when there is no crime, they could still have their name recorded on an official database, that is consulted when people are apply to work with young people and vulnerable adults. 

“In some cases this could prevent them getting a job, even if they are a highly skilled doctor, nurse or teacher.” 

The plans to target parents, mostly mothers, for smacking their children comes despite Welsh police losing control over existing violent crime.

According to official figures knife crime in the Principality rose by 23 per cent last year as police struggled to maintain law and order on the streets.

The figure came at the same time as it was revealed that crime overall has increased by 10 per cent in Wales even before its Assembly criminalises many parents.

The PLU estimate on smacking criminal cases  came from an audit of recorded crimes, which related to the reasonable chastisement defence between 2017 and 2018, after a request by the Welsh Government.

They considered cases where no injury occurred to children and reasonable chastisement was “used as a defence or considered in the decision making process”.

If reasonable chastisement were removed, these incidents, where perhaps only mild physical contact occurred, would be classed as assault.

The official research across the four Police Forces in Wales concluded that there would be 274 new investigations in the first year.

This included an estimated 39 in Dyfed-Powys, 56 in Gwent, 57 in North Wales and 122 in South Wales.

A letter from Welsh Minister Julie Morgan AM confirms that information about parents who are suspected of smacking, or where the police decide not to take any action will still have their details recorded on the police database.

“The National Law Enforcement Database (LEDS) will be set up to replace both the existing Police National Database (PND) and Police National Computer (PNC). Currently, conviction information is held on the PNC, and records on non-conviction information (e.g. intelligence, non-statutory out of court disposals such as community resolutions) are held on the PND.” 

It goes on: “Removing the defence of reasonable punishment in Wales does not create a new offence; the offence of common assault already exists in common law across England and Wales, therefore it should be possible to report incidents of common assault against children, either as conviction information (e.g. if a caution has been accepted by the perpetrator) or as non-conviction information.” 

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