15 Mar 2010

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY), Patricia Lewsley, today, called on the Government to do more to protect children in their communities.

The Commissioner said that she has been very concerned at the approach government has taken to community safety and that a more positive focus on children and young people is needed.

"The planned devolution of policing and justice provides Government with an opportunity to move away from criminalising children and focus more on providing them with better support and protection in their community.

"Children and young people divide most of their time between their home, school and community; therefore their voice should be central to community safety policy.

"Almost every day I hear from children and young people about limits which prevent them from meeting with friends, playing and living safely within their communities.

"This month as part of my ongoing 'Make It Right' campaign young people have been working with me to highlight some of these challenges."

Ms Lewsley said that there are several actions the Government could do to improve community safety.

"Revising the current approach, abandoning Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) and the proposed introduction of dispersal zones - which would allow police to stop young people gathering - and increasing efforts to overcome community divisions would be a positive start.

"I would also encourage the Government to take into consideration the recommendations from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to strengthen its efforts to guarantee the right of children to engage in play and recreational activities in safety."

If you would like to find out more about NICCY's Make it Right campaign or would like to get involved email uncrc@niccy.org, or call 028 90311616.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES For more information please contact Andrew McGall, Communication Officer at NICCY on 028 9031 1616 or    communications@niccy.org