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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse of Children in Custodial Institutions: 2009-2017 Investigation Report

B.4: Safeguarding policies and procedures

23. The overall policy and legislative framework for YOIs and STCs is set by the Ministry of Justice. Operational oversight of the institutions is carried out by the Youth Custody Service, part of HMPPS, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. The DfE has responsibility for setting the overall policy and legislative framework for SCHs but not YOIs or STCs.[1]

24. The Secretary of State for Education has a duty to promote the wellbeing of all children but the Children Act 1989 gives statutory responsibilities to local authorities, which carry out the Secretary of State’s responsibilities in practice.[2] The Children Act 2004 puts local authorities, and directors and governors of YOIs and STCs, under a statutory duty to make arrangements for ensuring that their functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.[3]

25. Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 requires local authorities to make inquiries when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a detained child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. If allegations of abuse are staff‐related, they may be referred to a local authority designated officer.

26. The recently updated Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance[4] is a statutory document to which local authorities and all other bodies working with children must have regard in carrying out their functions. The guidance applies across YOIs, STCs and SCHs. It provides overarching guidance on topics including section 47 enquiries and how to carry out assessments. It also sets out the overall responsibilities of individual organisations. The guidance seeks to put in place a protective environment with specific rules around training and safeguarding. One of the common issues it addresses is the response to a disclosure of abuse.[5]

27. The National Health Service also has a role in custodial institutions for children. NHS England does not directly provide health services but commissions them. This includes both primary care (general practice services) and secondary care services (hospital services)[6] and facilities for children detained in the secure estate.

28. In December 2016 the report of the Taylor review into youth justice was published.[7] The Youth Custody Service has commissioned A Review of Safeguarding in the Secure Estate (June 2018) led by Sonia Brooks OBE, which will encompass safeguarding from sexual abuse. This will be completed by April 2019. The review will take into account the Inquiry’s analysis of the case studies and the material that the Inquiry has produced. The terms of reference include a review of current operational policies for safeguarding and the processes for handling allegations and complaints (including the responses, investigation and support offered to children), corporate governance of safeguarding, and training.[8][9][10]


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