Social workers to gain prison role

The Youth Justice Board is to fund council social workers to work
in young offenders institutions.

Jon Fayle, the board’s head of policy for the secure estate,
announced the move at a National Youth Advocacy Service lecture
last week.

He acknowledged there “would no doubt be difficulties” recruiting
the extra social workers, but hoped there would be “good movement”
over the next year. He confirmed details of how local authorities
will investigate child protection concerns in YOIs are still being
worked out.

Earlier, Mr Justice Munby raised fears that children in prison were
not receiving adequate support from local authorities, despite his
November 2002 ruling establishing that local authorities have a
responsibility to children in prisons within their boundaries.He
welcomed the YJB’s move because, he said, lack of cash was
preventing councils from carrying out the responsibilites.

Fayle said that unless local authorities that had YOIs in their
areas were properly funded, “it is unlikely they will pay more than
lip service to the duties Mr Justice Munby made clear in his

While local authorities could not remove children from YOIs, Munby
said it would “make a difference” if they investigated child
protection concerns. If it emerged that in any other establishment
the child would be removed, these findings should be reported to
the home secretary.

The judge said problems included the fact that many children in
YOIs were not from the local area and might be held miles from
their home town, which could create difficulties in engaging local

He also said he suspected there was a distinction being drawn
between “deserving and undeserving” children.

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