On 23 March Justice Minister, Naomi Long announced plans to amend the Justice (Miscellaneous) Provisions Bill to change existing law. The amendment will extend the current abuse of trust offence. The current law only applies to positions of trust within a statutory setting such as teachers and health care workers; the amendment will widen the scope to include perpetrators in non-statutory settings. The category of non-statutory setting will be determined by the Justice Department in collaboration with the NSPCC, faith groups and sports organisations.
Many groups have called to tighten the currently limited law and make it more robust for the protection of children and young people. This welcome extension will afford greater protection to young people in a variety of settings and ensure all those abusing positions of power will be held accountable and will not escape due to a gap in legislation.
Justice Minister Naomi Long said:
“I am very aware of calls to change the law, including from the NSPCC, the sports sector and faith groups, and I agree that the law needs tightening. I am very conscious that people working in the non-statutory sector can have a significant level of influence and power over impressionable young people in their care, and some can abuse their positions of responsibility.I propose to strengthen the law in Northern Ireland, widening the scope of the existing position of trust legislation to afford our young people greater protection across a broader range of environments.”