4 May 2004

A Spokesperson for The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People this week welcomed new laws to protect children and young people from a range of sexual offences.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 came into force on May 1st, with a number of the provisions in England and Wales now extended to Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson for the Commissioner, Mr Nigel Williams, said:

“Nigel is particularly pleased that this Act is now in force as he was closely involved in advising the Home Office on a number of its provisions especially the new offence of meeting a child following, ‘grooming’, on the internet or through other technology.

“This is an important landmark in a piece of legislation that for the first time affords protection to children in a world where technological communications offer both opportunities and risks to children and young people.”

The Commissioner also welcomed the other provisions in the Act, including the those which protect children who are in relationships of trust with adults.

These include for example, children in the care of hospitals, social services or in educational establishments. This is an area that strengthens laws which can help our children and young people to grow up safe from sexual predators and from those who abuse the duty of care placed on them by families and society.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  1. Nigel Williams was formerly Chief Executive of the charity Childnet International and raised the concerns about the,’ grooming’, of children and young people on the internet and helped prepare the initial drafts of the legislation for the Home Office.
  2. The media release from NIO Minister John Spellar can be read at:www.nio.gov.uk/press/040430a.htm and includes links to further reading on the legislation.

For further information contact the Press Office on 028 90 316397 
Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People