Child Protection Circulars
Child Protection Procedures for Persons Employed by the DES
In 2007, DES issued Circular 46/2007 which outlines child protection procedures for its own staff, the purpose of which is to provide direction and guidance to Department staff in responding to allegations or complaints of child abuse which are made to the Department.
The Circular states that upon receipt of information regarding alleged child abuse, the Department will refer the details to the Designated Liaison Person in the relevant school without making any judgement on the substance or truth of the allegation/ complaint received. The Department will, simultaneously, notify the HSE of the information received indicating that the matter has been referred to the school for appropriate attention.
INTO members have raised concerns about the practice of passing on allegations to the HSE, in the absence of a clear definition of abuse, without any checking mechanism to establish the identity of the caller or letter writer, or checking whether there is the slightest basis for the allegation. This is in contrast to the ‘reasonable grounds’ check which schools must carry out under the Procedures issued by the DES, prior to passing an allegation to the HSE.
The three teacher unions have made a detailed submission to the DES about this matter, but concerns persist. The INTO has also taken legal advice, and has supported a court action on behalf of a member, where a file was created in the HSE through automatic reporting by DES in circumstances where there was no basis for an allegation.
Updated September 2012