This has just been published on the government's website regarding the Charity Commission's investigation into WTBTS in the UK. It sounds a little like a backward step, and also like the society are playing clever legal games - as to be expected - but hopefully the information provided by people who've left and been affected by the society will help them reach an informed conclusion.
Latest News on Charity Commission Investigation into WTBTS
it looks like the watchtower have co-operated to an extent by revealing some of the documents requested by the charity commission and that this has been sufficient for the commission's inquiries, so that now the commission can get on with its work on bringing the uk branch of JWs up to spec on safeguarding. for me this is good news as I wasn't expecting them to bring down the watchtower - that was a tall order by any standards.
I guess the wts will say that they were waiting for the laws to change so that they could press ahead with safeguarding
Sounds like The Commission have all t he information they required - let's hope so anyway, and the Watchtower isn't using its infamous theocratic warfare ( aka lying)to deal underhandedly about the information they have available.
Hopefully this is the case. When I last spoke to them they were hoping that by keeping the WT a registered charity it would help them to monitor them and safeguard children to the extent they could. I know recently the society changed their policy on reporting sexual abuse, but it still felt a little like lip service and doing to because they had to to comply with the commission's requirements.
I know that many here favour mandatory reporting but the NSPC indicates some of the pitfalls of mandatory reporting and then it goes on to discuss the debate concerning this issue. But I thought this particular para is useful
Mandatory Reporting? There is a question whether there is a need for an additional protection if all of the elements above fail to adequately protect children. Mandatory reporting has been put forward as a potential solution to such inadequacies which have been exposed by recent child abuse cases. Under mandatory reporting certain groups or professionals would be placed under a legal duty to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to proper authorities. These groups are referred to as ‘mandated reporters.’ Failure to report reasonably held concerns would lead to criminal sanctions1. Mandatory reporting systems have been used in a number of countries for many years e.g. USA, Canada and Australia. However, mandatory reporting jurisdictions differ as to who the mandated reporters are and the type of abuse subject to reporting. There is evidence to suggest that existing mandatory reporting regimes can lead to unintended adverse consequences, such as creating a culture of reporting rather than acting, dissuading children from disclosing incidents for fear of being forced into hostile legal proceedings or overwhelming an already stretched child protection system so that attention is diverted from where it is most required (Appendix One). 1 Whilst a mandatory reporting law need not necessarily be based on criminal provision, we are not aware of any alternative models of mandatory reporting that do not impose criminal sanction for failure to report. Civil law in the UK can currently be used to seek redress for negligent failure to protect children. However, this is an inadequate model because it is slow and expensive and does not always have a child protection focus. It also does not place an individual liability because actions are generally instituted against an organisation and redress, usually in the form of compensation, is paid by insurers. 6 already stretched child protection system so that attention is diverted from where it is most required (Appendix One). The debate on mandatory reporting has increasingly focused on organisational and institutional settings, rather than more broadly across services and society. However, some important questions remain. If mandatory reporting is necessary to shift safeguarding culture, which institutions would be covered by such a duty, what kind of abuse should be reported and who should be mandated to report. Given the risk of unintended consequences, it is important to consider the merits and demerits of the possible options.
I know that many here favour mandatory reporting but the NSPC indicates some of the pitfalls of mandatory reporting and then it goes on to discuss the debate concerning this issue.
FYI I posted the below two months ago (6th November 2016) when it was featured as a big article in the UK's Observer newspaper. The article also listed those organisations for and against mandatory reporting.
thanks for those links darkspilver - good to know both sides of the issue.
the points that stood out for me are the lack of services in place to help with the situation and the need to avoid the overwhelming of existing services with what may turn out to be only moral panics, suspicions and finger pointing and not much more. The NSPCC want to see a child protection focus rather than a simple reporting focus. However, they do think that in closed institutions like boarding schools where there is a higher ratio of adults mandatory reporting ought to prevail. I wonder if they would consider the wts a closed institution. However, the wts always insist that they do not work with children as in a school setting.
turning to the uk charity commission, I think they are right to insist on safeguarding for now and not on mandatory reporting as this is not law at the moment in the UK. I guess the recent changes that the wts have made are a reply to the charity commission but obviously the commission wants to continue to work with the wts on these issues. I guess they need to be seen to be fair to the wts and not ask them to implement things that other charities are not being asked to at the moment.
I am fairly satisfied for now with this recent development because I don't expect the uk gov to act unfairly.
more info here
The WTBTSB confirmed it had supplied the documents and had agreed to withdraw the review.
A spokesman for the charity said: "Watch Tower will now work with the commission to explore the issues that are the subject of the statutory inquiry and to address the commission’s regulatory concerns."
The commission’s inquiry into the WTBTSB remains ongoing.
In its statement, the commission said: "With the legal proceedings now settled, the commission will continue to work with the charity to establish the facts and understand the charity’s safeguarding policy, procedures and practices in order to explore the issues that are the subject of the ongoing statutory inquiry and address the commission’s regulatory concerns."
The withdrawal of the judicial review application marks the end of legal proceedings over the inquiry into the WTBTSB as a whole.
But the charity is still fighting to block a separate statutory inquiry into the Manchester New Moston Congregation, opened at the same time as the one into the WTBTSB.
These came after it emerged that victims of sexual abuse by a former trustee of the charity’s Manchester New Moston congregation had been required to meet and answer questions from their abuser, who had just been released from the prison sentence he was given for abusing them, according to tribunal documents.
WTBTSB lost an appeal against the New Moston inquiry in the first-tier tribunal in April 2015, but has appealed to the upper-tier tribunal against the first-tier tribunal’s ruling, and the case is expected to be heard on 2 March.