Inquiry into role and independence of Office of Children's Commissioner

13 March 2012

The Joint Committee on Human Rights today announces a short inquiry into the role and independence of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England

 In July 2010, the Secretary of State for Education asked John Dunford to carry out an independent review of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, and to make recommendations to improve the impact and effectiveness of the Commissioner’s role. This was in set in the context of the Government’s public commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

John Dunford reported in November 2010; and the Government accepted in principle his Review’s recommendations and restated its commitment to the UNCRC in December 2010. Legislation to put in place the changes called for is expected in the new Session of Parliament and is likely to be announced in the Queen’s Speech on 9 May this year.

The Committee is interested in hearing how the recommendations of the Dunford Review might most effectively be taken forward by the Government, and how the role and independence of the Children’s Commissioner can best be secured in the interests of the rights of the child and in line with the UNCRC. In particular, the Committee would be interested to hear:

  • how to ensure that the Children’s Commissioner is compliant with the Paris Principles Relating to the Status of National Human Rights Institutions;
  • to whom the Children’s Commissioner should be accountable, and in what way;
  • what the remit and role of the Children’s Commissioner should be, and what powers will be required for that role;
  • how the independence of the Children’s Commissioner can be secured, at the same time as ensuring its accountability;
  • what the relationship should be between the Commissioner and Parliament and the Commissioner and Government;
  • whether the Children’s Commissioner has adequate resources to fulfil any new role;
  • in what ways the Children’s Commissioner can contribute to the protection and realisation of the rights in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • in what ways the work of the Children’s Commissioner might be made more prominent and have more impact on the lives of children and young people; and
  • what useful lessons can be learned from the other three Children’s Commissioners.

Those submitting evidence are of course free to raise other issues related to the inquiry which they think have an important human rights component.

The Committee intends to take oral evidence in the second half of April. The deadline for submissions to the Committee is Wednesday 11 April. Short submissions are preferred; and it would be useful if submissions longer than six pages could include a one-page summary.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to and marked “Children’s Commissioner”. An additional paper copy should be sent to: Greta Piacquadio, Joint Committee on Human Rights, 7 Millbank, London SW1A 0AA.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the Joint Committee on Human Rights will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. View guidance on giving evidence to Select Committees.

Please also note that

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed, placed on the Internet or circulated by the Committee at any stage. You may publicise or publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so, you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee. Evidence published other than under the authority of the Committee does not attract parliamentary privilege. If your evidence is not printed, it will in due course be made available to the public in the Parliamentary Archives.
  • All communications to the Committee about the inquiry should be addressed through the Clerks or the Chair of the Committee, whether or not they are intended to constitute formal evidence to the Committee.

Image: iStockphoto

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