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Child protection legislation in the UK

NSPCC factsheet

January 2014

Up until recently, child protection legislation across the UK was made and passed by Westminster. Nations had their own laws (the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004 for England and Wales; the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995; and the Children (Scotland) Act 1995)) but the framework set out by the different acts was broadly similar.

Since 1999, the process of devolution has seen power and responsibility transferred from Westminster to regional governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

This means that each nation is now responsible for its own education, health and social welfare policies and legislation; this includes safeguarding and child protection.


Our factsheets provide an overview of the guidance and legislation for protecting children in:

Contact the NSPCC's information service for more information on child protection guidance and legislation in the UK