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5.34 Safeguarding Children and Young People in the Youth Justice System


For additional information please see:

Healthy children, safer communities - a strategy to promote the health and well-being of children and young people in contact with the youth justice system. Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Children, Schools and Families, Ministry of Justice, Home Office, December 2009.

LAC (2004)26: Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people in custody. Department for Education and Skills. September 2004.

Pan-Lancashire Procedure for Children and Young People Who Display Sexually Harmful Behaviour

Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools (DfE)


With effect from 3 December 2012, whenever a court refuses bail to a child/young person (aged 10-17), the court is required to remand the child to local authority accommodation unless certain conditions are met, in which case the court may instead remand the child to Youth Detention Accommodation. Every such child (whether remanded to Youth Detention Accommodation or to local authority accommodation) will now be treated as Looked After by their designated local authority.


In November 2013, this chapter was updated in line with Working Together to Safeguard Children and the Single Assessment Framework.


  Legal Requirements
  Actions to Safeguard
  Children of Prisoners

Legal Requirements

  1. The Children Act 1989 applies to children and young people in the secure estate and the local authority continues to have responsibilities towards them in the same way as they do for other Children in Need. LSCB's will have oversight of the safeguarding arrangements within secure settings in their area;
  2. The Youth Justice Board (YJB) has a statutory responsibility for the commissioning and purchasing of all secure accommodation for children and young people who are sentenced or remanded by the courts. It does not deliver services directly to young people but is responsible for setting standards for the delivery of those services;
  3. There are three types of secure accommodation in which a young person can be placed, which together make up the secure estate for children and young people:
    • Young Offender Institutions (YOI's) - YOI's are facilities run by both the Prison Service and the private sector and accommodate 15- to 17-year-olds. Young people serving Detention and Training Orders can be accommodated beyond the age of 17 subject to child protection considerations. The majority of YOI's accommodate male young people, although there are four dedicated female units;
    • Secure Training Centres (STC's) - STC's are purpose-built centres for young offenders up to the age of 17. STC's can accommodate both male and female young people who are held separately. They are run by private operators under contracts, which set out detailed operational requirements. There are four STC's in England;
    • Secure Children’s Homes (SCH's) - Most SCH's are run by local authority children’social care. They can also be run by private or voluntary organisations. They accommodate children and young people who are placed there on a secure welfare order for the protection of themselves or others, and for those placed under criminal justice legislation. SCH's are generally used to accommodate young offenders aged 12 to 14, girls up to the age of 16, and 15 to 16-year-old boys who are assessed as vulnerable.
  4. All these establishments have a duty to effectively safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people, which should include:
    • Protection of harm from self;
    • Protection of harm from adults; and
    • Protection of harm from peers.
  5. Local authorities, LSCB's, YOT's and secure establishments should have agreed protocols setting out how they will work together and share information to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in secure establishments.
  6. All members of staff working in secure establishments have a duty to promote the welfare of children and young people and ensure that they are safeguarded effectively. In addition, Governors, Directors and senior managers have a duty to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place to enable them to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities. These procedures should include, but not be limited to, arrangements to respond to:
    • Child protection allegations;
    • Incidents of self-harm and suicide; and
    • Incidents of violence and bullying.
  7. All staff working within secure establishments should understand their individual safeguarding responsibilities and should receive appropriate training to enable them to fulfil these duties. Appropriate recruitment and selection processes should be in place to ensure staff’s suitability to work with children and young people. These procedures should cover any adult working within the establishment, whether or not they are directly employed by the Governor/Director.

Actions to Safeguard

  1. If a child in custody in an establishment in the region makes allegations about abuse that happened before they entered the custodial establishment, or it becomes clear that they may be at risk of Significant Harm on leaving the establishment, a referral should be made to Making a Referral to Children's Social Care Procedure.
  2. Children’s Social Care will:
    • Co-ordinate an Assessment;
    • Convene, if required a Strategy Discussion to consider whether to initiate a Section 47 Enquiry; and
    • Liaise with any other Local Authority in whose area the child was living or will be living, or where the abuse is alleged to have taken place, where appropriate.
  3. The Manager of the Record of Children subject to a Child Protection Plan should be notified of any serious incidents or if a child dies in custody in an establishment in the region. If the child was ordinarily resident in the region, the Serious Case Review Panel will then consider whether to commission a Serious Case Review - see the Serious Case Reviews Procedure.

Children of Prisoners

Where there is concern for the welfare of a prisoner’s child within a custodial establishment, the procedures in Part 3, Managing Individual Cases where there are concerns for the welfare and safety of a child, will apply (see Making a Referral to Children's Social Care Procedure).