Children in prisons should be treated by local authorities as
having the same status as children in the community when child
protection issues are being investigated, a new report leaked to
Community Care says.
A central child protection and safeguards policy should be
developed for establishments that hold children, says the report by
the Youth Justice Board, Association of Directors of Social
Services and Local Government Association. It also states that a
specific child protection and safeguards training package should be
designed for staff working with juveniles.
The YJB and Prison Service, along with the ADSS and LGA, should
“develop a strategic overview of the role and functions of local
authorities with social services responsibilities within juvenile
establishments”. This would include the need for social services
departments to devote dedicated time to the issue.
The report envisages national guidance for councils and young
offenders institutions which establishes a framework for their
relationship. This would be produced by the Department for
Education and Skills.
The report was produced after a team of professionals from social
services and the Prison Service reviewed arrangements for
protecting and safeguarding children in establishments between May
and November last year. This followed Mr Justice Munby’s judgment
in November 2002 that the Children Act 1989 applies to children in
The team found that safeguarding policies were clear, but not
specific to juveniles – particularly on split-site establishments,
which hold juveniles alongside young prisoners in the 18-20 age
group. There was also a better consistency of care and a greater
awareness of juvenile-specific issues where there was a dedicated
staff group for juveniles and no cross-deployment of staff on split
The monitoring of available safeguarding data was variable and not
analysed or used to inform strategy. As a result, establishments
were “generally weak in their ability to effectively learn from
their responses to serious safeguarding incidents”.
Some YOIs had difficulties in gaining social services’ help in
handling child protection inquiries and the review team found many
instances of social services departments not fulfilling their
statutory duties to children in prison.
The report recommends the YJB and Prison Service establish a well
resourced taskforce to cost and implement the recommendations in
– Report available at: www.youth-justice-board.gov.uk/youthjusticeboard