4 Mar 2004

The Commissioner had written to the Secretary of State suggesting a review following the controversy in England surrounding failure to pass on allegations about Ian Huntley’s previous behaviour to Soham Village College, Cambridgeshire, who employed him as a caretaker.

Commenting on today’s announcement Nigel Williams said: “I intend that the review should be wide ranging covering all the different aspects of the vetting system.”

To make sure there is no delay the various government Departments involved have begun to make preparations ahead of the review. This means that once the Bichard Inquiry into the failures in the Huntley case has reported in the summer, detailed work can begin immediately to examine arrangements in Northern Ireland.

Details of the terms of reference and arrangements for the review including how it will be publicised will be announced within the next few months.

Nigel Williams concluded by saying “There is no more important children’s rights’ issue than protecting children from abuse by those who work with and care for them. I am delighted that the Secretary of State has agreed to this review, which my Office will lead, that will help ensure that the current arrangements in Northern Ireland, which have many good features, will be made even better.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  • Nigel Williams, Commissioner for Children and Young People took up office in October 2003.
  • This is the first time the Commissioner has exercised his duty under the legislation Order No 439 (NI 11) to formally advise Ministers of an issue affecting the right and best interests of children.
  • The Commissioner will be available for interview.
  • For further information contact:

    Press Office
    NICCY
    7 Floor
    Lancashire House
    3 Linenhall Street
    Belfast
    BT 2 8AA

    Phone: 02890311616