Need for online protection noted by Information Commissioner

We have previously commented on issues such as “catfishing” and online bullying both being issues of concern in the area of child abuse.  The instant and anonymous access of social media forums as well as the interactive nature of online gaming, create opportunities for both those intent on abuse and those intent on bullying and blackmail.

Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, has spoken out on this issue and feels that future generations will be “astonished to think that we ever didn’t protect kids online.” She spoke in a forward thinking address while launching the Age Appropriate Design Code as a new set of privacy codes to be set by her office. Social media sites, online gaming sites and streaming services will need to abide by these new rules.

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Fermanagh abuse victim speaks out publicly

In previous blogs we have highlighted the work of the Fermanagh newspaper, The Impartial Reporter, and their coverage of abuse reports in that area and the creation of a new police taskforce to re-examine older complaints and to investigate more recent reports of historic abuse in the area.

BBC Spotlight has spoken to one of those who came to the paper and Kevin Brown has waived his anonymity to speak publicly about the abuse he reported.  Mr Brown says that he was abused by at least 20 different men when he was around 12 years old and for at least another three years after that.  Other victims have confirmed some of the names given by Mr Brown but those victims have retained their anonymity.

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Mr Justice Colton appointed to head NI Redress Panel

The Lord Chief Justice in NI, Declan Morgan, has appointed Mr Justice Adrian Colton to be the President of the new Redress Board.  Mr Justice Colton was called to the Bar in 1983 and appointed QC in 2006.  He was appointed to the High Court bench in 2015.

In 2016 he was appointed Presiding Coroner for NI and took responsibility for overseeing the management of inquests around controversial killings in Northern Ireland.

In 2017 he was appointed Senior Criminal Judge.

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NI Redress Scheme progress accelerating

Following the passing of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill in the last hours of the parliament before the recess for the December election there has been a rapid progression in the matter.

The recommendations were made in 2017 but since then, the collapse of the NI Executive and the disruption caused by Brexit and debates about who could or could not make laws for NI, little had progressed.

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Former residents admit arson attack on residential care home

A masked man has spoken to the Belfast Telegraph newspaper and admitted that nine former residents of St Patricks Home in West Belfast had been responsible for an arson attack on the premises.  The arson continues to be investigated by the PSNI but the man indicated that he and his accomplices were happy that there was no evidence remaining from the blaze and did not fear prosecution.

The man said he was part of a survivors group representing approximately 140 former residents of the home run by the De La Salle Order.  St Patrick’s closed as a residential facility and the property was sold to a development company.

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‘Catfishing’ case told there may be thousands of victims

In an earlier Blog we advised of a case of ‘catfishing’ (when a person pretends to be someone else to entice victims in online scams or abuse). We highlighted the issue and we raised the concern at the liability internet providers or employers may face for failing to prevent such attacks.

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Interim Advocate Church role causes split between victims groups

Brendan McAllister was appointed Interim Advocate for the victims of abuse in residential care and has had a difficult time in his few months in post. He has dealt with the new Secretary of State, the stresses caused by the absence of an Assembly, the conflicts within the political arena as a result of Brexit, the falling of the legislation intended to implement the necessary arrangements when Parliament was prorogued and now he faces a different issue.

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NI LCJ hits out at delay in abuse victim compensation

Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Chief Justice for NI, has said that it is “shocking” that 2 ½ years after the final report of the HIAI, lead by Sir Anthony Hart who sadly died earlier this year without seeing his recommendations implemented,  was released there has been no progress in implementing those recommendations.

Along with recommendations on apologies, a memorial and the appointment of a Commissioner for survivors and victims the report recommended a Redress Scheme.  While an interim advocate has been appointed to assist the survivors in pressing their agenda forward there has been no progress in the creation of a Redress Scheme.

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Sexual Offences prosecutions in Northern Ireland take an average of nearly two years

The Department of Justice has produced figures which show that the average (median) time taken for processing cases where the main aspect was a sexual offence is 667 days.  This is in comparison to an average of 167 days in all other case or as low as 138 days for cases where the offences relate to public order offences.

The time is calculated from the point when the case was either reported to or detected by the PSNI until the date when the case was finally disposed of at court.

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Orange Order named in Fermanagh abuse developments

The revelations of historic abuse in Fermanagh following investigations by the Impartial Reporter’s deputy editor, Rodney Edwards, continue and the Orange Order has now been brought to the fore.

The number of victims is growing as is the number of identified abusers. The PSNI have been investigating the complaints and specialist officers from the Public Protection Unit have been assigned to conduct these enquiries.

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