Intended for healthcare professionals


Mandatory reporting to the police of all sexually active under-13s

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 20 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:918
  1. Ruth Bastable, general practitioner,
  2. Julian Sheather, senior ethics adviser (
  1. Cambridge Access Surgery, Cambridge CB5 8HA
  2. BMA Medical Ethics Department, London WC1H 9JP

    New protocols may undermine confidential sexual health services for young people

    Confidential sexual health services for young people are under threat. This summer, following the Bichard Report into the killings of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells,1 several protocols relating to the disclosure of information about sexually active young people have been issued by area child protection committees in England and Wales. At the same time the government is consulting on a new version of its statutory guidance on child protection, Working Together to Safeguard Children.2 The protocols require mandatory reporting of all sexually active young people under 13 to the police and the collection of data in relation to sexually active young people under 16. Although the protocols'legal status is unclear and the intended uses of data about under 16 year olds are uncertain, their combined effects are predictable: health professionals can no longer assume that their work with this age group will be in confidence, and young people will turn …

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