Local authority secure children’s homes in England are operating well below capacity, according to government research published today.
The figures come three months after research by the Department for Education and Skills, prompted by a fall in referrals to secure welfare beds, found councils lacked confidence in homes’ provision.
Only 315 of 390 approved places in local authority secure children’s homes in England and Wales were occupied at 31 March 2006, today’s report said.
But the only home in Wales, Neath Hillside, was operating near capacity.
The number of occupied places was 14 per cent lower than a year earlier, and down from a peak of 400 in 2003 and 2004.
And the number of homes has fallen to 22 in 2006 from 29 in 2003 and 24 in 2005.
Local authority secure children’s homes care for children referred on welfare grounds and those placed by the Youth Justice Board because of their offending.