Northern Ireland Children

Legislation, Statutory Guidance, Good Practice Guidance, Action Plans


To find your local Council Report Child Abuse to Social Care

The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland App 

Provides a wide range of safeguarding information for professioanl, parents and carers in Northern Ireland




Coronavirus Act 2020

Data Protection Act 2018

Digital Economy Act 2017

Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Addressing Bullying in Schools Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Children’s Services Co-operation Act (Northern Ireland) 2015

 Modern Slavery Act 2015

Serious Crime Act 2015

Part 5 of this Act is about Protection of Children etc

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015

The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (Membership, Procedure, Functions and Committee) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012

Safeguarding Board Act (Northern Ireland) 2011

Prevention of Cruelty to, and Protection of, Children Act 1889

An Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to, and better Protection of, Children. ..... Section thirty-seven of the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1868

Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.

The Children and Young Persons Act of 1933

Provides for the punishment of a person who treats a child "in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health (including injury to or loss of sight, or hearing, or limb, or organ of the body, and any mental derangement)".

Children and Young Persons Act (Northern Ireland) 1968

Sets out offences against children

Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995

This is the principal statute governing the care, upbringing and protection of children in Northern Ireland. It affects all those who work and care for children, whether parents, paid carers or volunteers. The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 changed the philosophy and practice of the law in relation to children as it reformed, and brought together, most of the “public” and “private” law relating to children in a single coherent statutory framework along the lines of the Children Act 1989 in England and Wales.

The Children’s Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1995

Sets out how a child may give evidence in criminal proceedings.

Children (Public Performances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996

Sex Offenders Act 1997

An Act to require the notification of information to the police by persons who have committed certain sexual offences; to make provision with respect to the commission of certain sexual acts outside the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes.

The Children Act 1989

Very small part relevant to Northern Ireland

Human Rights Act 1998

The Public Interest Disclosure (Northern Ireland) Order 1998

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Gives the right to request any recorded information we hold that isn’t about you personally.

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002

To make provision about nationality, immigration and asylum; to create offences in connection with international traffic in prostitution; to make provision about international projects connected with migration; and for connected purposes.

The Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (Northern Ireland) Order 2003

Sexual Offences Act 2003

The Commissioner for Children and Young People (NI) Order 2003

The Health and Personal Social Services (Quality, Improvement and Regulation) (Northern Ireland) Order 2003

Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

Extends the existing legislation criminalising female genital mutilation in the UK, by making it an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take a girl abroad, or to help others to take a girl abroad, to carry out female genital mutilation, even in countries where the practice is legal.

Licensing Act 2003

Communications Act 2003

127 Improper use of public electronic communications network

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he—

   (a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or

   (b) causes any such message or matter to be so sent.

(2) A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—

   (a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false,

   (b) causes such a message to be sent; or

   (c) persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.

(4) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to anything done in the course of providing a programme service (within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (c. 42)).

The Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 2003

Requires all grant-aided schools to include within their discipline policy, an anti-bullying policy which includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. The effectiveness of these measures is monitored through the regular cycle of school inspections of pastoral care arrangements. It also is a statutory requirement for schools to have a child protection policy and to implement it. The Board of Governors of a grant-aided school has a statutory duty, under Article 17 of the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 2003, to safeguard and promote the welfare of registered pupils at the school at all times when on the premises of the school; or in the lawful control or charge of a member of the staff of the school.

Education Act 1996

School Standards and Framework Act 1998

The 1998 School Standards and Framework Act contains provisions for schools and nursery education. This covers further education for young people at school, and in FE institutions across the UK

Education and Inspections Act 2006

The Children Act 2004

Very samll part relevant to Northern Ireland. A legislative framework for cooperation between agencies working to safeguard children

Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (in part)

Closes a legal loophole, (whereby defendants in murder and manslaughter cases could escape conviction by claiming each other had killed the child), by creating a new offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult. The offence establishes a new criminal responsibility for members of a household where they know that a child or vulnerable adult is at significant risk of serious harm.

Gambling Act 2005

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007

Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007

The Serious Crime Act (2007) section 44

Intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence

The Mental Health Act 2007

Section 131A Accommodation etc. for children

Sexual Offences (NI) Order 2008.

Seeks to consolidate sexual offences law in Northern Ireland into one statute and modernize, strengthen and harmonise the body of offences and penalties with the rest of the England and Wales.

Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008

Trustee's duty of care

Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Places a duty on the UK Border Agency to safeguard and promote children's welfare (section 55), bringing them in line with other public bodies that have contact with children.

Equality Act 2010

Safeguarding Board Act (Northern Ireland) 2011

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

An Act to provide for the destruction, retention, use and other regulation of certain evidential material; to impose consent and other requirements in relation to certain processing of biometric information relating to children; to provide for a code of practice about surveillance camera systems and for the appointment and role of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner; to provide for judicial approval in relation to certain authorisations and notices under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; to provide for the repeal or rewriting of powers of entry and associated powers and for codes of practice and other safeguards in relation to such powers; to make provision about vehicles left on land; to amend the maximum detention period for terrorist suspects; to replace certain stop and search powers and to provide for a related code of practice; to make provision about the safeguarding of vulnerable groups and about criminal records including provision for the establishment of the Disclosure and Barring Service and the dissolution of the Independent Safeguarding Authority; to disregard convictions and cautions for certain abolished offences; to make provision about the release and publication of datasets held by public authorities and to make other provision about freedom of information and the Information Commissioner; to make provision about the trafficking of people for exploitation and about stalking; to repeal certain enactments; and for connected purposes.

Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2013

An Act to amend the law relating to sex offender notification, sexual offences prevention orders and human trafficking; to provide for the destruction, retention, use and other regulation of certain fingerprints and DNA samples and profiles; to provide for the release on licence of persons detained under Article 45(2) of the Criminal Justice (Children) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998; to amend Article 21BA of the Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1999; to abolish the common law offence of scandalising the judiciary; and to permit criminal proceedings on Sunday at certain times.

Child and Family Agency Act 2013

Statutory Guidance



Co-operating to Safeguard Children and Young People in Northern Ireland 2017

The Right To Choose: Statutory Guidance For Dealing With Forced Marriage 2012 


Good Practice Guidance and Advice



Safeguarding Children and Young People: Roles and Competences for Health Care Staff 2019

Enhanced Due Diligence: Safeguarding for external partners published October 2018 (UK)

The Charity Commission Northern Ireland Serious incident reporting: A guide for charity trustees May 2018

Best practice for PE changing rooms: NSPCC factsheet

Indecent images of children: guidance for young people March 2018

Public Interest Disclosure Guidance 2017

Child abuse and neglect: NICE guideline [NG76] Published date: October 2017

Criminal Exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: County Lines guidance 2017

Child Safety Online: A Practical Guide for Providers of Social Media and Interactive Services 2016

National Referral Mechanism (NRM): guidance for child first responders

Guidance on how to identify and refer children who may have been the victim of trafficking and provide a cohesive response for appropriate agencies

Subject access code of practice: Dealing with requests from individuals for personal information August 2013

AccessNI: Criminal record checks 2013

AccessNI is a criminal history disclosure service in Northern Ireland. AccessNI supplies criminal history information, upon request, to organisations and individuals.

Advice on child internet safety 1.0: Universal guidelines for providers 2012

Safeguarding of Children Who May Have Been Trafficked 2011

Protecting the health and well-being of 'Looked After' Children 2010

Provides guidance on protecting and safeguarding looked after children.

Protecting Our Children: A Guide for Parents

On the Management of Sex Offenders

Guidance to agencies on public protection arrangements (PPANI) Article 50, Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2008



Safeguarding Children and Young People: Roles and Competencies for Healthcare Staff 2019

Nurses and Midwives

The Nature And Extent Of Pupil Bullying In Raising and escalating concerns: Guidance for nurses and midwives 2010

General Practitioners and all Medical Practitioners

Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety 2012

Protecting children and young people: The responsibilities of all doctors September 2012

 0-18 years: guidance for all doctors

GMC Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information (2017)

Child protection –a tool kit for doctors BMA 2009


Minimum Standards for Dental Care and Treatment 2011 

Standard 15 - Children, young people and vulnerable adults [Promoting, protecting and improving health and social well-being]

Police etc.

Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings

Guidance on interviewing victims and witnesses, the use of special measures, and the provision of pre-trial therapy. The guidance applies to both prosecution and defence witnesses and is intended for all persons involved in the criminal justice process, including the police, health and/or social care workers, legal profession and victim support organisations.

Reports and Research


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