Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has welcomed today’s announcement that abuse of trust legislation will be strengthened to protect children from abuse.
The party’s Justice spokesperson said:
“The current laws on the age of consent and abuse of trust laws do not provide enough protection for 16 and 17-year-olds who are preyed upon by adults in positions of trust and power.
“The current laws contain a loophole which effectively permits child grooming by adults in some positions of power such as sports coaches, faith group leaders or youth group leaders.
“Children and young people can spend several hours a week with adults who hold positions of power, often in potentially vulnerable situations such as changing rooms, swimming pools, or in a vehicle alone with an adult.
“Sinn Féin have been calling for this unacceptable legal loophole to be closed for a number of years, and have raised it directly with the Justice Minister on several occasions.
“Today’s announcement by the Justice Minister that she will legislate to strengthen abuse of trust laws is welcome.
“The devil is in the detail and I look forward to seeing the text of the legislation to ensure that the law is robust enough to cover all circumstances where an adult is entrusted with power or trust in relation to a child aged 16 or 17.”