Northern Ireland Redress Board provides guidance on examples of abuse

The Northern Ireland Redress Board (“NIRB”) was established on 31 March 2020. It is responsible for receiving and processing applications for compensation from those who experienced abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.

Applications to the NIRB will be considered by paper determination by a three person panel consisting of a judicial member and two non-judicial members from a health and social care background. The judicial member will chair the panel.

Readers of this blog will be aware that the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act, 2019 (“the 2019 Act”) was one of the final pieces of legislation to be passed in Westminster before the Government was dissolved on 05/11/2019.

Section 2(2) of the 2019 Act sets out the definition of what constitutes “having suffered abuse” but fell short of describing what physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect comprised of.

The NIRB have chosen to publish a document on its website which sets out examples of the types of behaviour that will be considered under all 4 headings.

The NIRB say that these examples of abuse are drawn from the behaviours classified as abuse by the Hart Inquiry which is the Northern Ireland equivalent to IICSA.

The NIRB stress that these examples are only meant as guidance and should not to be considered as being exhaustive of the definition of abuse.


ABUSE TYPE Description
Physical abuse Excessive corporal punishment (both formal and informal)

Uncontrolled physical punishment where staff lost their temper

Physical punishment which was tantamount to a serious physical assault

Physical punishment using various implements, including canes, belts, sticks, slippers, curtain rods

Physical abuse and bullying by peers / older children / ‘charge boys’/ ex-residents

Excessive physical chores

Use of excessive / inappropriate force in situations such as restraint / force-feeding

Inappropriate use of drugs to control children


Sexual abuse Sexual abuse by male / female staff

Sexual abuse by peers or older children (including charge boys) / ex-residents

Inappropriate touching / fondling (through clothing or otherwise).

Other inappropriate physical contact & behaviour

Oral / anal/ vaginal rape


Emotional abuse Name calling by staff (picking on appearances or features)

Denigrating the parents or family of a child

Suggesting that a child had inherited the negative qualities of a parent and would never be of value

Showing a child up in front of the group

Inappropriate treatment of a child in respect of bedwetting / deafness / menstruation

Ignoring / concealing evidence of siblings

Not passing correspondence / presents on to children

Emotional impact of experiencing / witnessing physical or sexual abuse

Other humiliating treatment which served to undermine self-confidence, self-esteem and emotional well-being

Undermining of identity

Denial of parental contact


Neglect Inadequate or poor quality food

Inadequate or poor quality clothing

Inadequate bathing / toilet facilities

Lack of heating

Failure to provide access to appropriate education

Poor sex education

Lack of due care and attention in the placement of children


Maltreatment Confiscation of personal possessions


Excessive chores

Queuing for bathing

Use of Jeyes fluid in bathing;

Poor management of enuresis


There have been a number of interesting developments in respect of the NIRB and how it intends to go about its work since it was formally established on 31/03/2020  and we will be covering these over a number of BLOGS which will be published in the coming days.


Written by James Chambers at BLM

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