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Recommendations - Children in Custodial Institutions: 2009-2017 investigation report

These recommendations were made in the Children in Custodial Institutions: 2009-2017 investigation report.

Research into child remand population

Recommendation

The Chair and Panel recommend that the Youth Custody Service commissions research into why the child remand population is as high as it is. If the reason is a lack of appropriate community provision (nationally or in certain areas), or otherwise unrelated to a genuine need for those children to be remanded in custody, the Chair and Panel recommend that the Youth Custody Service, with appropriate partner agencies, puts an action plan in place to address this.

Responses

On 23 July 2019, the Ministry of Justice stated that it committed to undertaking further work to consider the use of remand in greater detail. Within the following year, the Ministry of Justice aimed to identify options to reduce numbers where appropriate, whilst ensuring victims and the public are protected.

Review of placement of children in secure children’s homes

Recommendations

The Chair and Panel recommend that the Department for Education and the Youth Custody Service conduct a full review of the practice of placing children for justice and welfare reasons together in SCHs to establish whether it increases the risk of sexual abuse to children. If so, appropriate action should be taken, including consideration of alternative models. The review should be completed within three months, and an action plan should be published within six months.

Responses

On 23 July 2019, the Ministry of Justice stated that it was working with the Department for Education and the Youth Custody Service to review the placement practice in secure children’s homes, focusing particularly on the practice of placing children on welfare and justice grounds in the same home. The review would conclude in November 2019 and an action plan would be published in response to the review’s findings in early 2020.

Safeguarding training in secure estates

Recommendation

The Chair and Panel recommend that the Youth Custody Service takes steps to ensure that its training provides staff with an appropriate understanding of safeguarding in the context of the secure estate, and that this is regularly reviewed and updated.

Responses

On 23 July 2019, the Ministry of Justice agreed that training was required. The Youth Custody Service will review the mandatory training for all its frontline staff, including at management level, alongside a review of the content and material where necessary. 

In October 2019, the Youth Custody Service (YCS) published its national review of safeguarding. 

The review recommends YCS sites develop specific and localised training that meets the emerging needs and threats of the sector. The review recommends appropriate and sufficient training in safeguarding and child protection for staff dealing with Matters of Concerns, and that the policy should be reviewed and widely communicated.

Professional registration of staff in YOIs and STCs

Recommendation

As the Inquiry set out in its Interim Report, professional registration of the workforce in settings responsible for the care of vulnerable children complements regulation of institutions by a separate, independent regulator.

The Government has agreed in principle that professional regulation of staff in children’s homes in England could provide an effective additional means of protecting children. It has indicated that it will be conducting an evidence‐gathering exercise to inform further action.

The Chair and Panel now recommend that the Ministry of Justice introduces arrangements for the professional registration of staff in roles responsible for the care of children in YOIs and STCs. The Interim Report recommendation already applies to staff working with children in SCHs.

Responses

On 23 July 2019, the Ministry of Justice stated that it will conduct an evidence gathering exercise involving consultation with the sector and an analysis of successful models in other jurisdictions.  It noted that the Ministry of Justice will work closely with the Department for Education to gather this evidence and explore options for establishing a new register.

Prohibition of pain compliance techniques

Recommendation

The Chair and Panel consider that the use of pain compliance techniques should be seen as a form of child abuse, and that it is likely to contribute to a culture of violence, which may increase the risk of child sexual abuse.

The Chair and Panel recommend that the Ministry of Justice prohibits the use of pain compliance techniques by withdrawing all policy permitting its use, and setting out that this practice is prohibited by way of regulation.

Responses

On 23 July 2019, the Ministry of Justice stated that it had commissioned a review of the use of pain-inducing techniques in Youth Offender Institutions, Secure Training Centres, and during escorts. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice will publish its response to the Inquiry’s recommendation.

Revision of Prison Service Instruction

Recommendation

The Chair and Panel note that Prison Service Instruction (PSI) 08/2012, which sets out the mandatory actions for YOIs and STCs for ‘maintaining a safe and secure environment’, has expired. The Chair and Panel recommend that the Ministry of Justice revises and publishes this PSI to provide clear guidance on how custodial institutions must respond to allegations of child sexual abuse. This should include a requirement for all allegations to be referred to a child protection professional who is independent of the institution.

The Chair and Panel also recommend that all institutions, including those which are privately run, publish their safeguarding local procedures in full as well as regular reports about their use, to aid scrutiny and increase transparency.

Responses

On 23 July 2019, the Ministry of Justice stated that work to update PSI 08/2012 would commence in 2019. In advance of this, the Youth Custody Service published a policy framework that replaces some aspects of PSI 08/2012 relating to behaviour management of children.

Cross-departmental responsibility for safeguarding children in custodial institutions

Recommendation

The Chair and Panel recommend that the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Education share policy responsibility for managing and safeguarding children in custodial institutions. This is to ensure that standards applied in relation to children in custody are jointly focused on discipline and securing child welfare.

Responses

On 23 July 2019, the Ministry of Justice accepted the principle behind this recommendation. It stated its ambition was to replace all Youth Offender Institutions and Secure Training Centres with secure schools and Secure Children’s Homes, which the Department for Education has policy responsibility for. In the interim, work was being conducted to ensure a child-focused ethos.

Recommendations process

You can find out about our process for monitoring responses by visiting our web page.

Investigation report

View the Children in Custodial Institutions: 2009-2017 investigation report in its entirety.

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