Protection of Children and Vulnerable Persons - Legislation
Three legislative acts with far reaching implications are being placed on employers and organizations: The Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act, 2012 (Withholding Act), The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 (Vetting Act), and Children First 2012 (Children First). The key provision of the Withholding Act is the creation of an offence of withholding information in relation to certain arrestable offences committed against children and vulnerable people. The intent is to introduce a form of mandatory reporting by creating the threat of criminal sanctions for those withholding information. The Vetting Act provides a legislative basis for the vetting of persons who seek positions of employment relating to children or vulnerable persons, making vetting mandatory. The overarching policy objectives of Children First is raising awareness of child abuse, recognizing and reporting child abuse, and the management of child safety concerns for specified organizations. The key provisions of the Bill, from an employer's perspective, is to train and set standards for its staff and volunteers and to appoint its most senior manager as a Designated Officer, to ensure children in its care are protected through recording, monitoring and reporting.