William Eichler 16 May 2019

‘Locked up’ children cost £300m to care for, commissioner says

‘Locked up’ children cost £300m to care for, commissioner says image

An estimated 1,500 children in England are locked up by the state for their own or others’ safety at a cost of a £300m a year, new report reveals.

A new study by Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, shows that there were 1,465 children in England securely detained in 2018.

An estimated 873 of these children were held in youth justice settings, 505 were in mental health wards and 87 were in secure children’s homes for their own welfare.

This costs the public purse around £300m a year, Ms Longfield calculated – although this excludes what is spent on ‘invisible’ children whose settings the state does not have information about.

Medium Secure Mental Health Settings are the most expensive form of provision, at £1,611 a day or £588,015 a year.

Secure Children’s Homes have an estimated cost per child of £210,000 per year, with Secure Training Centres at £160,000 a year and Young Offender Institutions at £76,000.

The commissioner’s research also found 211 children whose Deprivation of Liberty has been authorised by a court but whose whereabouts in the system is invisible because they do not fit into any of the categories for which there is published data.

‘Locking children up is an extreme form of intervention,’ said Ms Longfield.

‘We are spending millions of pounds on these packages of care and yet there is far too little oversight of why they are there, their journeys into this system and the safeguards in place to protect them once they are there.’

Responding to the report, Cllr 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.’

Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent, deputy CEO of the children’s charity Coram, said the report revealed an ‘alarming safeguarding failure’.

‘It is unacceptable that over 200 children have been essentially “lost in the system” and placed in settings about which we have no information,’ she said.

‘We have no idea how long these children have spent in these institutions and no idea as to whether they are receiving interventions that best respond to their needs.’

Ms Longfield urged local authorities to provide her office, Ofsted and the CQC with data on the number of children deprived of liberty in their area at any one time, the legal basis for that deprivation of liberty, and where those children are living.

Ms Jeyarajah-Dent welcomed this call from the commissioner and said that councils would need to take ‘urgent steps to gain a clearer picture of each child’s history within the system.’

The power of local systems to save lives image

The power of local systems to save lives

Councils and their partners could do even more to contain the spread of COVID-19 if properly funded to undertake a robust localised system of testing, tracking and tracing, argues Professor Donna Hall.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Casual Leisure Assistant (Lifeguard)

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£10.55 per hour, plus holiday relief pay allowance
Are you a friendly and confident communicator who enjoys meeting people and providing great service? London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Service Manager - A&I and CYPWD

Essex County Council
Negotiable
We're serious about social work at Essex County Council. It's demanding, it's complex, but it's also hugely fulfilling. Here you'll have time to be th England, Essex, Harlow
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Family Hub Practitioner

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£30,300 - £40,900 per annum
We are looking for two vibrant and motivated Senior Family Hub Practitioners to work within the Early Help Service supporting the... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Tenancy Enforcement Assistant x3

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£22.377 - £23.607
We are looking for individuals who have an interest in the environment with good customer service skills, flexible approach to... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Public Safety Officer

Brent Council
£35,724 - £41,706 p.a. inc.
We are looking for an experienced and competent officer to carry out inspections, surveys and investigations in Wembley National Stadium... Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue