10/01/2007

Children's commissioner expresses concern over potential risk to children

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, is extremely worried at the potential risk to children if high risk sex offenders are returned to Northern Ireland after committing crimes abroad.

Ms Lewsley today said that she has written to the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, asking for the Northern Ireland Office to check if any of the 525 offenders who committed crimes abroad are currently in Northern Ireland, and if they pose a risk to children.

She said: “I was extremely worried to learn that there is a potential risk to children and young people.

“We could be in a situation where an adult is in a trusted position working with children and young people who is a convicted paedophile in another country.”

Ms Lewsley said NICCY has raised concerns about the vetting of adults who work with, or volunteer to work with, children and young people.

She continued: “NICCY has made a series of recommendations to the government on the vetting of adults.

“We are currently discussing with the government about how these are implemented.

“However, one of the key recommendations was that information on offenders should be shared and managed across international boundaries.

"This information was passed on to the Home Office, but from today’s reports it seems that nothing was done with that information until quite recently.”

(EF/KMcA)

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