Northern Ireland launches public consultation to provide a statutory basis for adult safeguarding

On the 17 December 2020 the Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swan launched a consultation into legislative options to bring forward a new Adult Protection Bill.

In September 2020 Minister Swann committed to bring forward a new Adult Safeguarding Bill for Northern Ireland, to help protect care home residents and other vulnerable members of society, this commitment was made in response to the first report from an independent review commissioned to examine the health and social care system’s response to care failings at Dunmurry Manor Care Home. We covered this matter in an earlier blog, here.

Minister Swann said: “The launch of this consultation marks a significant step forward in placing Adult Safeguarding on a statutory footing. Thankfully the challenge of dealing with abuse, exploitation or neglect is something the majority of us do not have to deal with.  There are however some adults who are at significant risk of harm and it for those people that I want improved safeguarding arrangements put in place.”

This public consultation offers interested parties and stakeholders the opportunity to share their views on the broad content of the proposed Adult Protection Bill, including the following:

  • Defining the scope of the Bill
  • Principles
  • Duties to (i) report and (ii) make enquiries
  • Power of entry to interview an adult in private
  • Independent Advocacy
  • Independent Adult Protection Board
  • Cooperation and information sharing
  • Offences of ill-treatment and willful neglect
  • Statutory Guidance

This consultation will run for 12 weeks until midnight on 11 March 2021.

The consultation can be accessed here.

Readers of this blog who are involved in the provision of adult services in Northern Ireland would do well to read and consider the consultation documentation and where they feel necessary respond to the same, as this consultation will inevitably inform and impact the statutory obligations that will in time have to be complied with in the provision of these services in Northern Ireland in the near future.


Katrina Gray is a Partner at BLM katrina.gray@blmlaw.com

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