Introduction of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill is being taken forward on a UK-wide basis in response to recommendations arising from the Bichard Inquiry.
The Bichard Project Board is addressing the issue of funding and work is ongoing to determine the way forward. Northern Ireland is participating fully in these discussions and is represented by the Northern Ireland Office on the UK wide group established to oversee development and implementation of the legislation. The issue of funding will need to be resolved before Primary legislation by Order in Council can be taken forward within Northern Ireland.
The key Northern Ireland Departments involved in implementation of the legislation will be the Northern Ireland Office; the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety; the Department of Education; and the Department for Employment and Learning. Access Northern Ireland will be the main Agency which will have a key role. The new vetting and barring scheme will however have a wider impact affecting the business of most other NI Departments to some extent.
Discussions are ongoing between Departments on the establishment of a cross departmental approach in taking the legislation forward. I am committed to these new vetting and barring arrangements being extended to NI at the earliest possible date.