New board to protect Northern Ireland children

A new board designed to better protect children in Northern Ireland comes into force on Tuesday.

The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland has been established to ensure the effectiveness of agencies involved in child protection.

It includes membership from health and social services, criminal justice and education boards.

Health Minister Edwin Poots will launch the new board.

Hugh Connor has been appointed chair of the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland.

“It would be wonderful to believe that we could avoid all tragedies but there’s no silver bullet,” he said.

“There is no civilisation, there’s not a developed country in the western world that unfortunately does not have children who die.

“I think what we’re really about here is working together, particularly to hear the voice of children.”

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has welcomed the establishment of the board.

Its Northern Ireland head of service, Neil Anderson, who is the charity’s representative on the board, said “the commencement of this new legislation signifies an important step forward in the protection of children”.

“We know that many families have complex needs and can be involved with a range of agencies across, for example, areas such as mental health, health and social services and the criminal justice system,” he said.

“It is for this very reason that the board’s broad remit and membership is so important.

“Through partnership working, the board will be well placed to identify issues, promote learning and strive for improvement in processes and services in this context.

“Today represents an important advance in our structures to protect children, through the strengthening of lines of accountability and performance management arrangements.”