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‘Troubling review' into work of Safeguarding Board

Green Party leader Steven Agnew said the review made for "troubling reading"
Gareth McKeown

A BOARD set up to oversee the protection of children in Northern Ireland has been heavily criticised in an independent review for focusing on the "wrong issues".

The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI) was set up 2012 by the Department of Health to improve protection for children, but authors of a report into its work have made 11 recommendations for improvement.

The report, led by Professor Alexis Jay, said it invested much time on the "wrong issues", "tensions" existed among senior board members and there was a "lack of structured focus on the multi-agency aspects of child protection".

There was also a warning that all agencies must ensure the board is notified of cases where a child has died or been significantly harmed.

The Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers said the board needed to refocus its activities.

"We want to see structures in place that support front line social work staff to protect children at risk of harm.

Professor Jay’s report has shone a light on areas where the Safeguarding Board must be restructured and revisioned to improve protection for children in Northern Ireland," chair Marcella Leonard said .

Green Party leader Steven Agnew said the report made for "troubling reading".

“There are many excellent staff working in child protection and in other child-centred organisations. They must be supported to do their job, with leadership needed by the Safeguarding Board," he said

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill has written to SBNI asking them to implement the review panel's recommendations.

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