Hundreds of parents in Wales could be criminalised if a smacking ban comes into force, police figures reveal.
The Police Liaison Unit (PLU) conducted an audit of recorded crimes between 2017 and 2018 which related to smacking, and only considered cases where no injury occurred to the child.
If the defence of reasonable chastisement were to be removed, the PLU estimated there would be 274 investigations in the first year. This would equate to 1,370 potential offences in the first five years.
Be Reasonable, the campaign group spearheading opposition to the ban, said the news is confirmation that the Government’s plans will “cause misery to hundreds of families across Wales”.
Spokesman Jamie Gillies said: “The Government keeps claiming that the ban will not criminalise ordinary parents, disingenuously saying that they are not creating a new offence.”
But he said “no amount of spin” can hide the fact they are making smacking – currently legal – illegal.
He continued: “Even when there is no crime, parents could still have their name recorded on an official database that is consulted when people apply to work with young people and vulnerable adults.
“In some cases this could prevent them getting a job, even if they are a highly skilled doctor, nurse or teacher.”
He concluded: “It is time for the Welsh Government to come clean.”
The Sunday Express urged the Welsh Government not to turn loving parents into criminals.
“Decent human beings are, of course, disgusted by child abuse, whether it is of a sexual nature or violence.
“But it seems to be a gross exaggeration to suggest that a light smack – or ‘reasonable chastisement’ as it is legally known – should be treated in this category and banned.
“The revelation that hundreds of parents will be criminalised and face prison sentences for being firm with their youngsters is deeply worrying.”
It added: “The awkward truth is that children sometimes need to understand when they have done something wrong and crossed the line.
“A light smack helps give that message.”