29 Nov 2004

THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY), Nigel Williams, today called for submissions to the review of child protection vetting procedures.

Over coming weeks the review, chaired by Ruth Lavery, will be receiving written submissions on the key issues about how adults who have contact with children through their work or volunteering are vetted.

“I want to make sure that individuals and organisations will have the opportunity to tell me what their views are on how checks are carried out,” said Ruth. “I will receive written submissions until 20th December and receive oral submissions in January.

“My role is to examine the submissions – and I am particularly keen to hear from children and young people, parents, carers, volunteers and professional organisations.”

NICCY appointed Ruth to act as an independent chair for the review in June of this year. Since then she has been gathering existing information, identifying key issues and examining existing policy and practice in Northern Ireland.

”I want to hear submissions that deal with four key areas. These are: experience of current vetting procedures; what works; what doesn’t work; and practical ideas for changing the way vetting is carried out.”

The Commissioner, Nigel Williams, said:

“This review is important to every child and young person in Northern Ireland. It’s about how we protect them from the predators who wish to abuse them.

“As a society it is vital that we afford children and young people every protection. Part of that is by making sure that those who are not suitable to work or volunteer to work with children are barred from doing so by a vigorous proactive vetting procedure.

“This review seeks to create recommendations to improve Northern Ireland’s procedures, which I am sure government and statutory agencies will want to examine closely. I call on everyone who feels they can contribute to this review to make a submission to Ruth and her team.”

Anyone wishing to make a written submission can send it to Vetting Review, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, 17-25 Great Victoria Street, Belfast. BT2 7BN or email: vetting@niccy.org

Notes to Editors

  • 1. 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.
  • 2. The review was established in the wake of the conviction of Ian Huntley for the so-called Soham Murders. A copy of the news release issued by NICCY at that time can be found at http://www.niccy.org/news/news030304.aspx
  • 3. An inquiry into the circumstances that led to the Soham murders was held in England. This was known as the Bichard Inquiry. A summary of potential implications arising out of the Bichard Inquiry can be found at http://www.niccy.org/downloads/NICCY%20Summary%20of%20Bichard.pdf
  • 4. 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.