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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

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

E.8: Mental health, drugs and gangs

97. We explored with witnesses whether (i) psychiatric disorders, mental health conditions or other psychological factors, (ii) the use of drugs and synthetic substances, and (iii) gang membership and culture have an impact on the prevalence and reporting of child sexual abuse in custody.

98. Angus Mulready‐Jones indicated that HMIP has various expectations relating to mental health.[1] We understand that the SECURE STAIRS programme[2] is intended to help staff understand where emerging mental health issues might create a challenge in working with a young person. It also hoped to assist them on a day‐to‐day basis to better build better relationships.[3]

99. HMIP also requires establishments to have in place an effective strategy to reduce the prevalence of drugs.[4]; Peter Savage told us that drug issues in child custodial institutions were not on the same scale as in the adult estate; it was not a major factor. His view was that typically teenage detainees are experimenting rather than dependent, and some recent work by User Voice suggests they had limited interest in psychoactive substances which might be more of a risk.[5]

100. The Youth Custody Service does work to identify gangs and is building on its understanding from the police of the potential conflict between gangs to consider how to keep people safe from gang‐related conflict in custody.[6]


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