‘Invisible children in secure settings must be accounted for’

16 May 19

The Children’s Commissioner has called on councils to provide information on detained children in their area, in a study out today.

Children in England’s youth justice settings and mental health wards cost the country £300m every year, but still there are “invisible” children, whose cases are lacking information, according to the report.

In 2018, there were 1,465 children in England in youth justice settings, mental health wards or secure children’s homes – 873, 505 and 87 respectively. There were a further 211 children whose ‘deprivation of liberty’ was authorised by a court but whose whereabouts are invisible in national data.

Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield said these children “should never be invisible or forgotten”.

She added: “Our research shows the system that detains them is messy, and the state often lacks very basic information about who all these children are, where they are living and why they are there.

“These children are some of the most vulnerable and have often repeatedly been let down by the state earlier in their lives, in some cases turned away from foster homes or excluded from school.”

Longfield called on local authorities to provide data to her office, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission on the number of children deprived of liberty in their area, the legal basis for this and where they are living.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “Any decision to deprive a child of their liberty is taken extremely seriously, and only made in cases where there is no other option available to protect that child or those around them.

“These children will have extremely complex, significant needs, and councils work hard with their partners, including in health and youth justice, to make sure these placements provide the support children need to overcome those issues in order to try and help them go on to live safe, independent lives.”

Recent analysis found that millions of children in the UK are living in poverty

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