Welsh parents who smack their kids could lose their jobs if new law passes

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A letter sent to an MP by a MoJ minister outlines what a new Welsh Government bill would mean in practice; Welsh parents could lose their jobs for smacking their kids if the new law is implemented, a letter from the Ministry of Justice has warned. If a Welsh Government bill to outlaw reasonable chastisement passes, parents suspected of smacking their children will face police investigations. The news was confirmed in a letter sent by an MoJ minister to David TC Davies, the MP for Monmouth, at the end of last year. It also confirms that information about parents who smack their kids will be recorded by police and could appear on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
The letter says, “…if the law changes and the police receive a report or a complaint that a child has been physically punished by an adult, they will investigate that report and decide what action to take, if any, based on the facts”. The letter adds, “Convictions will always show on police records. Wales’ child smacking ban could soon be made law – but the authorities aren’t ready for it, say campaigners.
“Whether they appear on DBS checks will depend on the type of check the person is applying for; whether their conviction is spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act; and whether their conviction is eligible to be filtered from standard or enhanced DBS certificates…”. A spokeswoman for the MoJ said it is aware of the letter that outlines what the new bill would mean in practice, but as it is Welsh Assembly legislation, the MoJ would not comment on the matter.
Jamie Gillies of the Be Reasonable campaign, which opposes plans to make parental smacking a crime, said the new law would be “highly detrimental to the family home”. He said, “’The letter confirms that loving parents will be investigated by the police for smacking and could be cautioned, and even prosecuted’. ‘Information will be seen on DBS checks by employers with potentially career-ending implications if the parent in question is say a doctor, a nurse, a teacher or a care worker, Welsh parents could lose their jobs for smacking their kids if the new law is implemented. ‘Does the Government really want this for parents in Wales?’ ‘The stress and turmoil of police investigations and even criminal convictions, simply because they have used mild physical discipline?’ ‘That would be highly detrimental to the family home’.”
The news comes as politicians and members of the Welsh Assembly vote on the Government’s bill in the final Stage 3 and Stage 4 debates on January 28. It also follows the publication of a survey of Welsh councillors, which revealed huge opposition to a smacking ban. More than seven in 10 opposed a ban, and nine in 10 said that councils do not have the resources to cope with one. The survey, covering more than 200 councillors across the political spectrum, found that eight in 10 respondents support the freedom of parents to use reasonable chastisement, and seven in 10 did not think smacking should be a criminal offence.
Mr Gillies added, “Many councillors seem aghast at the prospect of a smacking ban which would tie up social workers, deplete local authority resources and affect services for years to come when there is no reliable evidence to show that mild physical discipline is harmful to children.”

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Beth Thurlow

Politics Editor | 19-20

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