Health Minister announces Adult Safeguarding Bill for Northern Ireland

On the 10 of September, the Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed his intention 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 is 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 which had previously been identified.

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What is required of institutions by the Historical Institution Redress Board in Northern Ireland

Section 9(2) of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act, 2019 (“the 2019 Act”) provides that the panel dealing with an application before it must, in so far as it is practicable to do so and in accordance with such provision as may be made in rules, request the body, society or

organisation which provided residential accommodation in an institution to which the application refers to provide whatever information would enable the panel to verify the accuracy of information provided in support of the application for compensation.

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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.

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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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HIAI Bill passes through Parliament before election Purdah

The Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill passed through the Commons yesterday before Parliament was dissolved in preparation for the December elections.  This paves the way for the creation of a Redress Panel and the appointment of a Commissioner for Victims of residential Institutional abuse as recommended by Sir Anthony Hart in 2017.

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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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HIAI report anniversary

Saturday 20th January marks the first anniversary of the publication of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Report.  The report was published having been delivered to The Executive Office (formerly The Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers) as it was required to do. Continue reading

“Common Experience” Redress payments

Earlier this year the University of Ulster (UUJ) along with Amnesty International (AI) met with representatives of those who had been in residential care in Northern Ireland and their legal representatives to discuss the issue of redress.  The issue of redress arose again yesterday when former residents of homes protested outside Stormont demanding interim payments towards redress be made now.

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Whistleblowing hotline – a step closer to mandatory reporting?

Today the NSPCC (on behalf of the Home Office) has opened a hotline for use by individuals wishing to raise concerns about how their organisation is dealing with child abuse cases or potential risks to children.  This service will also highlight patterns of failures. Continue reading