A survey of children’s social services staff in Lancashire is
expected to show hundreds of instances of juveniles being held in
police cells overnight because of a lack of secure units locally.
The survey is likely to reveal staff concerns over how often the
police refused to allow young people who had been arrested or who
were being questioned on suspicion of carrying out crimes to be
placed in foster care or residential homes.
Public sector union Unison is carrying out the survey and is
seeking the input of child care teams, youth offending teams and
care home workers.
Police argue that some juveniles are a threat to the public and
need to be placed in secure accommodation, but with emergency
places in units often unavailable they are being kept in cells
Chris Cheetham, cabinet member for adult services and former social
services portfolio holder, said it was not a problem with police
policy but that “individual officers had taken certain decisions”.
He said the dispute was between social workers and the police over
what should happen, and had arisen “largely because police think
the alternatives we are proposing are unacceptable to them”.
“If they have a young person they believe is a threat to the public
they think they should be put in a place where they can’t threaten
that community,” Cheetham added.
Hundreds of staff have been asked to list instances where this has
happened, with Cheetham expecting the results later this summer.
Unison is arguing the problem is linked to the council’s policy of
reducing secure juvenile accommodation in favour of long-term