Child Protection

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					Child Protection

       Systems in Ireland
Children First Guidelines

   These guidelines inform practice in the Child
    Protection Area in Ireland
   Free Summary available from Local HSE
    (Health Service Executive, formally known as
    Health Board
   Also available online at
What is Child Abuse?

   Neglect
    –   Unmet needs: food, warmth, shelter, nurture, safety
   Emotional Abuse
    –   Unmet needs for affection, approval, security
   Physical Abuse
    –   Where a child is assaulted or injured deliberately
   Sexual Abuse
    –   Where a child is used for sexual gratification
Key Agencies

   “The health board and An Garda Siochana are the
    key agencies empowered by law to carry out the
    assessment and investigation of suspected child
    abuse. Each agency manages the responsibility
    within their brief and their joint efforts ensure that the
    protection of vulnerable children receive priority
    attention. The separate and complementary roles
    require careful understanding if the shared
    objectives of child protection are to be realised. An
    Garda Siochana have the additional responsibility of
    bringing abusers to justice” (Section 9.1.1)
Reciprocal Reporting

   If the HSE suspects that a child has been
    physically or sexually abused, or willfully
    neglected, they must notify the Gardaí
   If an Garda Siochana suspect that a child
    has been physically or sexually abused or
    neglected (either willfully or unintentionally),
    they must notify the HSE
Immediate Sharing of Information

   Neither agency should await confirmation of
    abuse prior to notification.
   The procedures to be followed are detailed in
    the Children‟s First Guidelines
   All information exchanged between the two
    agencies is treated with utmost confidentiality

   The HSE has overall responsibility for the
    assessment and management of child
    protection concerns
   An Garda Siochana has responsibility for the
    investigation of alleged offences, and also
    has power to intervene to protect children in
    emergencies and to remove a child to a
    place of safety.
Working Together

   Both agencies must work closely together to
    best meet the needs of children who need
    protection from abuse.
The Health Service Executive (1)

   The HSE is an agency of Central Government and
    has responsibilities for securing the care and safety
    of children.
   Under the Child Care Act 1991, the (HSE) has
    statutory obligation for the protection and welfare of
    children including:
    –   Accepting reports of concern in relation to child welfare and
    –   Actively assessing such reports
    –   Taking appropriate action if the report is confirmed
The Health Service Executive (2)

   The Child Care Manager is responsible for
    coordinating child protection services in each
    HSE area, including receiving all notifications
    of child abuse.
Civil Court

   Child protection proceedings take place in
    the civil courts and require proof on the
    balance of probability
An Garda Siochana

   An Garda Siochana will be involved in all
    child protection cases where it is suspected
    that a crime has been committed. They hold
    overall responsibility for the direction of the
    criminal investigation.
   The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)is
    responsible for the decision to prosecute or
Criminal Court

   The Criminal Courts require proof beyond
    reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty
    of the offence.
Emergency Care Order

   The Child Care Act 1991 (Section 12) also
    gives An Garda Siochana powers to apply to
    the courts for an emergency care order if it is
    deemed insufficient to await an application
    by the HSE, and if they have reasonable
    grounds to believe that there is an immediate
    and serious risk to the health/welfare of the
Power to Enter

   An Garda Siochana have the power to enter,
    without warrant, and use force if necessary to
    enter, any building or structure and remove
    the child to safety (i.e. into the custody of the
   This act also enables Gardaí (and the HSE)
    to recover any child unlawfully removed from
    care. The District Judge may issue search
    warrants in this regard.
Protections for Persons Reporting
Child Abuse Act, 1998

   Under this law nobody will be penalised for
    making a report of child abuse to the relevant
    authorities as long as the report is not
    malicious and their intentions are genuine
Reporting a concern is not making an

   If you suspect that a child has been, is being
    harmed or is at risk of harm, and most
    especially if a child makes an allegation of
    abuse, do not attempt to investigate or
    question the child. The appropriate action is
    to report your concern/the child‟s disclosure
    and leave it to the designated experts to
   You can report a concern without naming
    any „alleged offender‟
Need to Act

  Remember, if adults do not act in
  accordance with their child protection
  duties, the burden is left with the child!