Children Safeguarding Northern Ireland
The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland’s Director of Operations, Sharon Beattie, provides an overview of its work and objectives.
The creation of the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI) followed the recommendations by Lord Laming as a result of the Victoria Climbie and Baby P cases.
Laming’s conclusions − that multi-agency child protection committees (a feature of child protection for a decade or more) needed to be revamped and modernised − warranted new arrangements. Laming recommended the creation of Local Safeguarding Boards populated by senior staff in organisations and chaired by individuals independent of the system.
The SBNI was thus established through statute by the Safeguarding Board (Northern Ireland) Act 2011 and officially launched on the 18 September 2012 by the three Ministers for Health, Social Services and Public Safety; Justice; and Education.
The SBNI is directly accountable to the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and subject to the scrutiny of the Assembly’s Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety. The task given to the SBNI is to co-ordinate the activities of its member agencies in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. The central task of the SBNI Board is for the membership to take a view that is beyond the narrow interests of the organisations, to be a Safeguarding Board for children and young people, not organisations or professionals.
SBNI has the following key functions:
• develop policies and procedures for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in Northern Ireland;
• promote an awareness of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
• undertake Case Management Reviews (CMRs) and review such information as may be prescribed in relation to the deaths of children in Northern Ireland;
• advise the Health and Social Care Board and local commissioning groups in relation to safeguarding and promote communication between the Board itself and with children and young people.
The SBNI has now produced its Strategic Plan for 2013-2017 following wide public consultation and direct engagement with children and young people in accordance with the ‘Ask First’ principles. The recently completed SBNI Business Plan 2013-2015 sets out the key milestones to be achieved. On completion, the SBNI’s first annual report will be laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly, setting out the progress it has made and identifying any emerging trends or concerns.
From the outset, two key issues identified as strategic priorities for SBNI have been the new and emerging concerns of child sexual exploitation and e-safety.
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