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Thirtyone:eight, the UK’s leading independent Christian safeguarding charity, has published its first-ever manifesto setting out the key opportunities it has identified to improve policy, legislation and guidance to offer greater protection from harm and abuse to all children and adults living in the UK.

With one in five children having experienced some form of abuse or maltreatment1, parliamentarians, lawmakers, charities, and faith-based organisations must work together to strengthen and reform existing legislation, develop new laws, and maintain momentum in areas where there is still a lack of clear and effective policy and guidance, the charity has said.

The manifesto, entitled ‘Together we can - a manifesto for a safer society for all’, contains a number of key recommendations grouped into three main themes. The recommendations aim to strengthen the safeguards that are already in place, better protect victims and survivors of abuse, and create safer environments for all.
With the legal responsibility for safeguarding split between the UK government and the devolved administrations, the manifesto is divided into four specific policy asks for Scotland, Northern Ireland, England, and Wales.

Following public comment from Sir Keir Starmer, and Stephen Timms MP on the importance of faith communities playing a vital part in national renewal2, the charity, launched its manifesto on 16th April, ahead of a forthcoming general election. They are calling on the government to align safeguarding legislation as far as possible across the four nations so that wherever people live in the UK, they can experience the same level of protection from harm and abuse.

Leigh McFarlane, Public Policy and Research Manager for Thirtyone:eight, said,
“In our manifesto we have identified several important opportunities that exist to improve policy, legislation, and guidance. Drawing on the latest evidence and published research, and with the help of our expert team, we’ve made a number of recommendations which seek to find solutions to some of the key challenges and barriers that currently exist.

In our ongoing work across the UK parliaments in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England to advocate and engage governments and parliamentarians we’ve already seen significant success, we know it works. We’re looking forward to working together with other like-minded organisations and individuals as we make progress on the areas outlined in this manifesto to secure a safer society for all.”

The opportunities identified by the charity include steps such as introducing robust mandatory reporting laws, introducing a statutory definition of grooming, closing the loopholes that allow convicted sex offenders to change their name and avoid detection, widening the scope of existing Position of Trust legislation, reforming the Access NI vetting and barring scheme in Northern Ireland, removing the defence for reasonable chastisement/punishment of children in England and Northern Ireland, and implementing the recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse within England and Wales.

Justin Humphreys, Thirtyone:eight’s joint-Chief Executive says,
“For almost half a century now Thirtyone:eight has been at the forefront of safeguarding and child protection in the UK working as a trusted champion for the rights of all children, young people and adults at risk of harm. Since our early days we’ve witnessed the development, evolution, and more recently the devolution of the legislative landscape surrounding safeguarding. This poses a number of significant challenges and opportunities for us that we address in this Manifesto. As a charity, our vision is of a world where every child and adult can feel, and be, safe. Engaging with law and policy makers is one important way we can work together to make significant and tangible steps toward seeing that vision become a reality.”

Read the manifesto here.

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