The Welsh Government is spending a ‘horrifying’ amount on promoting its unpopular smacking ban, campaigners have said.
The projected total Government spend on publicity is around £2.7 million, a sum described by pro-parent group Be Reasonable Wales as “an extortionate amount of money”.
Introduced in March, the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 means parents will no longer be able to tap a toddler on the behind without fear of prosecution.
Be Reasonable spokesman Simon Calvert told the Daily Express that “ordinary hard-working Welsh people will be horrified” at the money allocated for advertising.
Especially, he continued, at a time when “hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to pay their heating bills, or their weekly shop”.
Mr Calvert also said: “People from Penarth to Conwy, will rightly want to know if ministers think spending millions on publicity for the ban is money well spent.”
Between 2019 and 2020, according to a survey conducted by the Welsh Government, public support for legislation banning smacking fell from 46 per cent to 38 per cent.
Welsh Government publicity on the legislation tells police officers: “physically punishing a child will be breaking the law and perpetrators could be charged with common assault, and/or other offences”.
Guidance for social workers also confirms that parents who “physically punish a child in their care” could be charged with “common assault” and “may get a criminal record”.
An information leaflet tells those working with children who “see a child being physically punished” or who are “concerned about a child” to contact their local social services department or to “call the police in an emergency, or if a child is in immediate danger”.
This runs contrary to claims made by ministers during the legislative process that the law would not criminalise parents.
‘Pernicious and unnecessary’
Mr Calvert said: “No doubt ministers will try and claim this money was always budgeted and that elected representatives had approved it.
“But this was the same excuse ministers used when they claimed the new legislation would not criminalise loving parents for giving their child a tap on the leg for misbehaving.”
“It is time”, he concluded, “for the Welsh Government to drop this pernicious and unnecessary ban”.