The Christian Institute

News Release

Unworkable smacking laws will distract from real abuse

Real cases of child abuse could go unchecked if resources are diverted to dealing with trivial smacking cases, according to a report published today (Monday 29 April) by a Christian charity. A Christian Institute report argues that the proposed law to ban the smacking of under-threes will add a massive burden to already over-stretched police resources and child-protection services. Doug Keil, General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation is on record as arguing that the present law does not need changing and has expressed his fears about a smacking ban’s workability.

Today (Monday 29 April) marks the end of an official consultation on the smacking ban plans. The consultation was held by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee. The committee is looking at the general principles of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill, which contains the controversial plans.

The Christian Institute’s report, Locking up parents?, also details how the badly-drafted plans will lead to legal headaches and will plunge parents into fear and confusion.

Deputy Director of The Christian Institute, Simon Calvert, said today: “The Executive is trying to force Edinburgh-wine-bar views on ordinary parents. These new laws are totally unworkable and dangerously intrusive. Instead of tackling real abuse, resources will be diverted to snooping into the lives of ordinary families.”

“Parents will live in fear of nosy neighbours or closed circuit TV in supermarkets and car parks. It only takes one mistaken or malicious report and the authorities have no option but to investigate. The Victoria Climbie case in England shows that real abuse can already be overlooked because of the pressure that the authorities are already under. Now under Jim Wallace’s plans the time and resources of police and social workers will be diverted into trivial smacking incidents.”

“The fact is, the current law is firm enough and fair enough. At the moment any parental punishment which causes harm or is likely to cause harm can lead to prosecution. A new law will add nothing to this except to target trivial cases. The result will be confusion among parents. Ordinary children will not thank Jim Wallace for giving their mother a criminal record.”

The Christian Institute’s report, Locking up Parents?, can be viewed online at