Justice Minister Naomi Long today launched a Call for Evidence seeking information to support any need to further extend the law on abuse of position of trust offences.
Minister Long said: “In the past year, I introduced legislation which strengthened the law on abuse of positions of trust. I remain fully committed to ensuring our children and young people are protected from harm and the risk of harm, and in particular that which comes from sexual offending.
“This Call for Evidence seeks evidence on whether the current law on abuse of position of trust should be extended beyond the new categories of sport and religion which I introduced as part of the Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022.
“During passage of these provisions in the Assembly, I committed to carry out a review to explore this area.”
Naomi Long continued: “This legislation has been created to protect young people in particular situations where there is some element of dependency on an adult, combined with an element of vulnerability on the part of the young person and where there is an imbalance in power. In considering any extension, it is important to remember that young people have a lawful right to engage in sexual relations from the age of 16 and any protection provided in law must respect those rights.
“Any further change to the law must be sufficiently supported with sound and robust evidence to ensure a proportionate and balanced approach to protecting our young people can be taken.
“Where such an extension is supported by the evidence, my Department will not hesitate to legislate using the dedicated power within the Act which allows additional areas to be included without the need for primary legislation.”
The Call for Evidence runs for eight weeks from 27 October to 22 December 2022.
Information on how to respond the Call for Evidence can be found at Abuse of Position of Trust Offences: Extension of the Law – A Call for Evidence | Department of Justice (justice-ni.gov.uk)
Hard copies and alternative formats of the Call for Evidence are available on request from:
Abuse of Position of Trust Call for Evidence
Department of Justice
Criminal Policy Unit
Notes to editors:
1.Legislative provision for abuse of position of trust is provided in Articles 23 to 26 of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) 2008 which is the main sexual offences framework for Northern Ireland.
2.It makes it an offence for persons aged 18 or over to intentionally behave in certain sexual ways in relation to a child under 18, where they are in a position of trust in respect of the child. The original legislation involved position of trust in the statutory settings such as in education; hospitals; youth detention and state care.
3.The legislation was amended in the Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022. Section 5 of the 2022 Act sets out further categories of adults in a position of trust: those who ‘coach, teach, train, supervise or instruct’ a person under 18 in a sport or religion on a regular basis. It also requires that the adult knows they are carrying out such activity on a regular basis.
4.During passage of the then Bill, the Justice Minister committed to carry out a review to explore whether there were any further areas which should be brought within the scope of this legislation. Responses to this Call for Evidence will be used to determine whether an extension is necessary.
5.Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
6.The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
- Departments of Justice and Communities launch anti-social behaviour consultation 28 November 2023
- Major milestone for sexual offences legislation 27 November 2023
- Cyber Crime, Modern Slavery and Sentencing: Findings from the 2021/22 NI Safe Community Telephone Survey published today 24 November 2023
- Permanent Secretary visits Lough Neagh Rescue 24 November 2023