First Minister urged to ditch plans for unpopular smacking ban

Clwyd West AM Darren Millar has challenged the First Minister this week on the Welsh Government’s unpopular smacking ban.

Speaking in the Senedd yesterday during a debate  on ‘The Prosperity for All Annual Report and the Legislative Programme’, Darren told the First Minister that a smacking ban is not popular in the country at large and that “no-one has been clamouring on the doorsteps to ask us to put through in terms of legislation”.

He said:    

“We've got many bigger things to do in terms of the challenges that our country has to face. So, I urge you, First Minister, to consider the growing evidence that there is out there about opposition to this sort of approach here in Wales.

“A ComRes poll back in 2017 suggested that seventy-six per cent of people in Wales do not think that parental smacking of children should be a criminal offence. Yet, that's precisely, effectively what is going to happen as a result of the legislation that you are bringing forward.

“Seventy per cent of those questioned were concerned that a smacking ban might flood police and social workers with relatively trivial cases, which would mean that they would struggle to stop the serious abusers of children. Seventy-seven per cent think that it should be the role of parents and guardians to decide whether or not to smack their children, not the state. Sixty-eight per cent of those surveyed said that it's sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child, and eighty-five per cent of adults across the country were smacked by their parents or guardians as a form of discipline. 

“The current law is working. It safeguards against abuse, and the defence of reasonable chastisement isn't one that is being used in the courts system. The Crown Prosecution Service said that across England and Wales between 2009-17, there were just three cases reported to them where the defence of reasonable chastisement was actually used. All of those cases—all three of them—were in England, there wasn't a single case in Wales. That suggests that the defence is not being misused to enable child abuse, as the Welsh Government is suggesting.

“There are many more important things that you ought to be focusing on in terms of opportunities for children and young people, in particular, the disgraceful state of the Welsh education system after being run by your party for the best part of 20 years. That's what you need to be getting to grips with, not legislating for something that most parents don't want you to legislate on, and that most members of the public don't support.

“It will result in many decent, loving parents being criminalised and the precious time of police offices and social workers being distracted from the serious abuse that they should be focusing on.”