An independent inquiry should be set up to examine problems faced by children leaving custody, the Howard League for Penal Reform has urged.
The charity said there could be thousands of children who were being abandoned by councils instead of being helped to resettle.
A report published by the charity this week, based on more than 100 children it has represented legally between 2004 and 2005, has found “serious gaps” in the planning and provision of support.
Social services often advise children to attend the homeless persons unit on the day of their release and they are often placed in bed and breakfast.
The Howard League has taken successful action against 34 councils across England and Wales that have not supported young people leaving custody. It has also won funding for a House of Lords challenge to a Court of Appeal decision that means councils do not have to automatically classify young homeless people as children in need (news, page 12, 13 July 2006).
Local Government Association children and young people board chair Les Lawrence said councils would work with the Howard League and the government to clarify authorities’ responsibilities.
Chaos, Neglect and Abuse
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