1 Apr 2008

Commissioner warns against complacency in child protection

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today welcomed the agency which checks everyone who wants to work with or volunteer to work with children and vulnerable adults.

Ms Lewsley said Access NI was an important step in making sure children and young people were better protected – but warned against complacency in safeguarding them.

“In 2005 my office completed an extensive review of vetting in Northern Ireland,” she said. “I am delighted that many of the recommendations in that review are included in how Access NI will work to protect children.

“The new system will provide better information during recruitment, and hopefully will begin to provide timely support to organisations and individuals.”

The Commissioner, however, warned that no-one can afford to be complacent in efforts to protect children from abuse.

“We must remember that most abuse is carried out by people the child knows already. While the new agency will go a long way to improve child protection everyone has a responsibility to make sure that children and young people are protected.”

Ms Lewsley also expressed concern over potential costs some small organisations may face.

“While I welcome that volunteers will be able to be checked free, some small organisations which receive Government funding will have to pay. This has the potential to be a considerable strain on funding.”

The Commissioner’s ‘Right to Protection’ Review of Vetting Procedures was completed in May 2005, and contained 15 recommendations.

“I am pleased that Government has accepted and acted on many of these recommendations but I also now want better information to be made available to parents and carers on what the new system means for them, such as how they ask that a worker or volunteer their child is in contact with has been checked.”

Notes to Editors:

You can read the NICCY ‘Right to Protection’ Review of Vetting here

NICCY’s response to Government action up to May 2007 can be read here: