All physical punishment against children has been made illegal in Wales. This includes smacking, hitting, slapping and shaking, although “rough and tumble play” is still allowed.
If you need to speak to a criminal defence lawyer, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We represent clients across England and Wales. We offer free police station representation and are members of the Legal Aid scheme. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The laws in Wales, Scotland and England
As of 21st March 2022, the physical punishment of children is banned in Wales. This includes anything where a child is punished using physical force. Wales has followed Scotland’s lead which banned smacking in November 2020. Children in Wales are now given the same protection from assault as adults.
However, England has yet to follow suit and continues to follow the common law concept of ‘reasonable chastisement’ when it comes to disciplining children. This is when a parent or person in loco parentis may administer reasonable corporal punishment. That begs the question: what is reasonable?
In 2001, the courts considered this issue and determined that the standard of reasonableness has evolved over recent years. What is now deemed to be reasonable corporal punishment of a child has narrowed, although there are no hard and fast rules. Each case will be judged on its individual merits. The punishment of a child will be in breach of that child’s human rights if attains a particular level of severity.
Divergence of the law
This is the first time that Wales has made a significant divergence from England’s criminal law. Anyone found to be physically punishing their child while in Wales could face prosecution, even if they are ordinarily resident in England or further afield.
People in Wales have been encouraged to contact the police or the local services department if they see a person physically punishing a child. The Crown Prosecution Service in Wales will pursue charges if:
- There is sufficient evidence to support the charge; and
- It is in the public interest to pursue a prosecution
The best interests of the child will also be taken into consideration.