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5.35 Safeguarding Children and Young People in the Youth Justice System


Caption: Contents table
  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. Children who are refused bail and remanded become Looked After for the duration of their remand period The Safeguarding Children Partnership will have oversight of the safeguarding arrangements within secure settings in their area.

    When a child or young person under 18 is remanded or sentenced to custody, the Youth Custody Service (YCS) decides where they should be placed. This will be either at a secure training centre, secure children’s home or under-18 young offender institution (for young males only).

    The placement decision is based on the information provided by youth offending teams (YOTs). The YCS’s Placement Team will contact YOTs to make sure the needs, risks and circumstances of each young person has been taken into account;
  2. 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-old boys. Young people serving Detention and Training Orders can be accommodated beyond the age of 17 subject to child protection considerations;
    • 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 3 STC's in England;
    • Secure Children’s Homes (SCH's) - Most SCH's are run by local authority children’s 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Local authorities, Safeguarding Children Partnerships, 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.
  5. 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, risk of harm, restraint, separation, staff recruitment and information sharing;
  6. 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 likely to suffer 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. If a child in custody dies a joint agency approach should be adopted, in line with Sudden and Unexpected Death in Infancy and Childhood: Multi - Agency Guidelines for Care and Investigation (2016). In addition, if a child in custody dies or is seriously harm and abuse or neglect are known or suspected this should be reported to the national Child Safeguarding Practice Panel via the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System. The process for reporting incidents is set out in the following: Report a Serious Child Safeguarding Incident (GOV.UK).

Children of Prisoners

  1. 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).