The Safeguarding Specialists
01379 871091


Northern Ireland Children

Legislation, Statutory Guidance, Good Practice Guidance

and Regulatory Authorities



The Northern Ireland Executive working through the Department of Health

The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland was established in 2012 following the publication of the Safeguarding Board Act (Northern Ireland) 2011There are also Regional Safeguarding Boards

To find your local Council Report Child Abuse to Social Care

Dial 999 in an emergency




Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021

 Coronavirus Act 2020

Data Protection Act 2018

Digital Economy Act 2017

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

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.

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

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

Equality Act 2010

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.

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.

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

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

The Children Act 2004

Very small 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.

 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

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.

Communications Act 2003

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 purpose

Freedom of Information Act 2000

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

Human Rights Act 1998

The Public Interest Disclosure (Northern Ireland) Order 1998

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.

Children (Public Performances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996

The Children’s Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1995

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

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 Act 1989

Very small part relevant to Northern Ireland

Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.

Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978

Children and Young Persons Act (Northern Ireland) 1968

Sets out offences against children

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)".

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


Licensing Act 2003

Gambling Act 2005


Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Addressing Bullying in Schools Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

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.

Statutory Guidance


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

Guidance to Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI) amended 2014

Good Practice Guidance and Advice


Public Interest Disclosure Guidance 2022

Education Authority: Safeguarding and Child Protection updated 2021

Children and Young people ethics toolkit 2021 (BMA)

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

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

 Best practice for PE changing rooms: NSPCC factsheet

Indecent images of children: guidance for young people March 2018

GMC Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information (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

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.

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

 0-18 years: guidance for all doctors

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]

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.



Education and Training Inspectorate

Education Act (Northern Ireland) 2014

Education and Inspections Act 2006

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


 Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)

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


The Charity Commission Northern Ireland

Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008

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

Reports and Research