22 Jun 2004

THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People welcomed the report by Sir Michael Bichard, which was published today.

The Commissioner will study closely the report and its recommendations.

In March of this year the Commissioner was asked by the Secretary of State, Paul Murphy to undertake a review into child protection vetting arrangements in Northern Ireland.

It was agreed at that time that Sir Michael’s report would inform the review.

“Protecting children is one of the most important functions that a society must fulfil, and following the conviction of Ian Huntley in December for the murders in Soham the Commissioner wrote to the Secretary of State asking for the review of child protection vetting procedures in Northern Ireland,” said Barney McNeany, Chief Operating Officer

“Now that Sir Michael has released his report we will be moving quickly to establish our review.”

Mr McNeany said good progress had already been made with key arrangements for the Northern Ireland review.

Today the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People has announced that the chair of the review will be Ruth Lavery (see below for pen portrait).

“The first phase is already underway,” said Mr McNeany. “One of the first tasks facing the review will be to benchmark practice in terms of vetting those who work with children against the standards proposed by Sir Michael.”

The Commissioner will, in coming months, unveil details of how children, young people, parents and organisations can make submissions to help inform the chairperson’s recommendations for improving practice. At that time a full timetable will be published.

ENDS

For further information contact:

NICCY Press Office on 028 9031 6397

Notes to Editors:

  • The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People was asked by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to undertake a review into child protection vetting procedures on March 2, 2004.
  • Ruth Lavery is a barrister and was formerly a senior lecturer in the School of Law at Queen's University, specialising in Family Law. She is also part-time Chair of the Independent Appeal Tribunal, and serves on the Equality Commission as a commissioner. Ruth is married with one child.