Criminalising Institutional Failures to Prevent, Identify or React to Child Sexual Abuse


Although there is increasing academic recognition of corporations as criminogenic, the criminal legal system has demonstrated difficulties in conceptualising corporate culpability. The current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse provides ample evidence of why organisations can and should be criminalised for systemic failures. I demonstrate that the emphasis upon individualistic subjective culpability by the criminal legal system does not adequately encapsulate the institutional failings detailed before the Royal Commission. Whilst mandatory reporting offences are important, these offences do not adequately respond to the kinds of organisational failings identified by the Royal Commission. I argue in favour of developing a new institutional offence constructed upon realist concepts of negligence and/or corporate culture that recognises that organisations are capable of wrongdoing and sufficiently blameworthy to justify the imposition of criminal sanctions. I conclude by arguing that the expressive role of criminal law justifies and requires the criminalisation of this kind of organisational wrongdoing.

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Published: 2017-09-01
Pages:104 to 122
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How to Cite
Crofts, P. (2017) “Criminalising Institutional Failures to Prevent, Identify or React to Child Sexual Abuse”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 6(3), pp. 104-122. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v6i3.421.