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3.15.5 Looked After Children in Contact with the Youth Justice System

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter takes account of the youth remand framework under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations: Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (Supplement) (2014).

RELATED CHAPTER

Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure

RELATED GUIDANCE

Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015)

Youth Justice Board National Standards

AMENDMENT

This chapter was significantly updated in March 2015 in line with the ‘DfE, Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations: Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (Supplement) - Looked After Children and Youth Justice - Application of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 to Looked After Children in Contact with Youth Justice Services (April 2014)’, a link to which has been added. Guidance has been added with respect to 17 year olds attending the police station (see Section 2, Looked After Children Who Have Been Arrested).


Contents

  1. Looked After Children Thought to be at Risk of Offending
  2. Looked After Children Who Have Been Arrested
  3. Young People Who Are Remanded
  4. Looked After Young People Who Are Convicted
  5. Responsibilities of the Local Authority to Looked After Young People in Custody

    Appendix 1: Overview of the Care Planning, Placement and Review Process Flowchart

    Appendix 2: Changes to Care Status as a Result of Criminal Justice Decisions


1. Looked After Children Thought to be at Risk of Offending

Local Authorities should have strategies that set out how they will support positive behaviour amongst Looked After children who may be at risk of offending and the measures that will protect them from 'unnecessary criminalisation', including a protocol with the police.

Where a Looked After child is thought to be at risk of offending, both the Care Plan and the Placement Plan should include the support measures needed to prevent this. The Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) should ensure that the Care Plan adequately addresses this.


2. Looked After Children Who Have Been Arrested

If a Looked After child aged under 18 is arrested, the Local Authority should ensure that the young person has the support of an Appropriate Adult and a solicitor while at the police station. The solicitor should have expertise in youth justice, and be provided with relevant information about the young person's circumstances, needs and the Care Plan.

(Prior to 2 June 2014, the right to an Appropriate Adult did not extend to 17-year-olds. From that date, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Code C on the Detention, Treatment and Questioning of Persons by Police Officers was revised to extend that right to 17-year-olds.)

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) has also issued the following guidance:

Guidance with Regard to 17 year old Young People Attending the Police Station:

  • In all cases, 17 year old young people are to be provided with an appropriate adult (parent, guardian or professional person), to safeguard them in custody;
  • However, the young person currently retains the right to not have their parents informed, but can chose to inform another individual of their whereabouts in custody;
  • The young person should be afforded the opportunity to speak with the appropriate adult when they attend and have their rights repeated in their presence;
  • Nevertheless, the young person can request that they do not want the appropriate adult for all or part of the custody process, and this should be respected;
  • Where the 17 year old young person has refused to either have their parents informed or to have an appropriate adult, they should be reminded of this facility at each review of the process;
  • Additionally, the principles which underpin this guidance should also inform the interviewing of 17 year olds not in custody.

Whether or not the young person is charged, consideration should be given to reviewing his or her Care Plan to ensure that measures are in place to address the causes of offending.


3. Young People Who Are Remanded

See also Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

3.1 Young people who are not bailed and are dealt with by a court by way of a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation or a Remand to Youth Detention Accommodation are Looked After

This will include both children who were already Looked After, and those who become Looked After by virtue of the remand.

Looked After Reviews must take place. For further information, see Looked After Reviews Procedure.

The Local authority should seek to support the young person and their family during this period of uncertainty and promote the existing ties and links where this is appropriate.

Care planning will need to consider the young person’s needs both during the period of remand and following the court hearing. The Care Plan will need to take into account arrangements for the young person’s support where s/he ceases to be Looked After because of receiving a custodial sentence.

It may also be the case that the alleged criminal activity may link to the young person having been trafficked. Where the young person might be a foreign national, it will be necessary to establish the young person’s immigration status.

3.2 Young People Remanded to Youth Detention Accommodation (YDA) who are not already Looked After

Where the young person was not already Looked After, the Local Authority must arrange for an assessment of the young person’s needs, (building on any previous assessment completed by the YOT), and use this to prepare a Detention Placement Plan (DPP) (see Section 3.4, The Detention Placement Plan). The assessment needs to be of ‘sufficient quality’ to identify the young person’s needs and how these will be met by the YDA and partner agencies, and should take into account contributing factors which lead the young person into their alleged offending behaviour. The DPP should seek to identify what support should be offered for the young person when they return to the community.

3.3 Young People Remanded to YDA who are already Looked After

A Detention Placement  Plan (see Section 3.4, The Detention Placement Plan) must also be drawn up for children who are already Looked After and who are remanded to YDA. This will be based on the current Care or Pathway Plan. Where the young person is subject to  a Care Order, or is a Relevant Child, the Care / Pathway Plan will continue once the remand ceases.

Where a young person is already Looked After and is remanded, the IRO should be notified as soon as the young person is remanded and as soon as they are sentenced to custody, including the details of where s/he is placed and the relevant order.

3.4 The Detention Placement Plan

See Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Detention Placement Plans.


4. Looked After Young People Who Are Convicted

The social worker should provide information to the YOT case manager responsible for completing the Asset and any other assessments. The YOT should also consult the social worker over the content and recommendations of the Pre-sentence Report, which should make explicit any safeguarding issues which make the young person specifically vulnerable if given a custodial sentence.

The social worker should provide information on the interventions and support that would be made available if the young person were to receive a community disposal. Copies of the Asset, Pre-sentence Report and other reports completed by the YOT must be sent to the social worker and placed on the young person's case record.

It is good practice for the child’s social worker to attend court on the day of sentencing; if this is not possible, then the foster carer or Registered Manager. This is to ensure the young person is supported and that the child’s best interests are effectively represented via their legal representative who may need to respond to specific and particular issues. This may also include consideration of an Appeal.

Consideration should also be given as to how the local authority will be informed of the outcome of the Hearing for the young person if the social worker is not able to attend.


5. Responsibilities of the Local Authority to Looked After Young People in Custody

Where the young person is the subject of a Care Order he or she will remain Looked After during the time in custody. The Local Authority therefore continues to share Parental Responsibility and the IRO will have an ongoing role in care planning and review and must be advised where a young person is given a custodial sentence.

Where a sentenced young person ceases to be Looked After because s/he is no longer Accommodated under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, the young person's social worker should ensure that the relevant YOT case manager is made aware that the young person had been Looked After up until sentence. The social worker should also discuss with the YOT and the young person any arrangements for remaining in touch whilst in custody and for assessing whether the young person may need to become Looked After again on release. For further detail, see Responsibilities of the Local Authority to Former Looked After Children and Young People in Custody Procedure.

Where the young person is 16+ and has been Accommodated by the local authority for 13 weeks or more from the age of 14, (including the remand period), the young person will be a Relevant Child and should be supported by the local authority as a ‘care leaver’ (see Support for Care Leavers – Succeeding into Adulthood Procedure).

5.1 Information Sharing

Within 5 working days of the young person's sentence to custody, the social worker should contact the young person's YOT case manager and the designated case supervisor within the establishment to inform them of:

  • The young person's care status, including his/her entitlement to support as a care leaver;
  • Persons with Parental Responsibility;
  • Name and contact details of the allocated social worker, his/her team manager and the IRO;
  • Any immediate information necessary to ensure the young person's safety or that of others;
  • Relevant information about the young person's family/carers and contact arrangements;
  • Relevant information about the young person's needs that will enhance the establishment's ability to care for the young person;
  • The date when the social worker will be visiting the young person; and
  • The date of any forthcoming review of the young person's case.

This should be followed up in writing to the establishment and copied to the YOT case manager.

5.2 Looked After Reviews

Going into custody is a significant change, and requires that, if a Looked After Review is not already due to take place, then one should be scheduled during the period that the young person is in custody. The usual minimum statutory timescales for Looked After Reviews apply thereafter. However, depending on the length of the young person's stay in custody, consideration should be given to undertaking a review within the last month before release to ensure that the Care Plan can be updated to meet his/her needs on release, particularly his/her placement.

The YDA or secure establishment should make provision for the young person and IRO to meet in privacy (unless this is not wanted by the young person) and arrange for a suitable venue for the review.

The Reviews must:

  • Be a child-centred process and, within the limitations that will be apparent, take into account how the young person wants their review meeting to be managed;
  • Ensure that the establishment is taking into account the young person’s identity and cultural needs;
  • Take the young person’s wishes and feelings into account;
  • Focus on whether the arrangements in place are appropriate for the young person’s needs whilst they are detained;
  • Look at the quality of contact with the local authority;
  • Ensure that contact arrangements for the young person are appropriate;
  • Ensure that there are arrangements responding to the young person’s health, education and training needs;
  • Consider whether Accommodation will be required when the Remand / Sentence period ceases.

5.3 Social Work Visits

The young person's allocated social worker must visit the young person within one week of being sentenced and detained - the role must not be fulfilled by a YOT worker.

Subsequent visits must take place at intervals of not more than 6 weeks for the first year; thereafter at intervals of not more than 3 months. Additional visits should take place if reasonably requested by the young person, the establishment or the YOT, or there are particular circumstances that require a visit (e.g. notification of under performance of placement provider/concerns about the safety or welfare of the young person).

Visits should also take place where there is a notice of concern from Ofsted about the establishment where the young person is (under the Care Standards Act 2000 or section 47 of the Criminal Justice Order Act 1994), or H M Inspectorate of Prisons where the young person is in a YOI.

Generally, the purpose of the visits is to assess the young person's needs and maintain an up to date Care Plan. The social worker should see the young person in private unless he or she refuses or requests that others attend the meeting.

The social worker should also attend the sentence planning meetings – particularly the one before discharge (see also Section 5.7, Planning for Release).

5.4 Advice, Assistance and Support Between Visits

The establishment that the young person is in should facilitate visits and allow the child to be seen in privacy (‘out of hearing of an officer’) unless the child refuses. Local authority staff visiting the young person will be afforded the status of ‘professional visitor’ rather than a ‘social visitor’ (which is more limited).

Looked After young people in custody remain entitled to advice, assistance and support between visits. The social worker should consider whether the young person is being adequately safeguarded and his/her welfare promoted Specific factors to take into account are:

  • Is the young person safe and are the Establishment’s arrangements adequate given the young person’s needs?
  • Is there a risk of self-harm and is the Establishment managing this effectively?
  • Does the young person need money, clothes, books or other practical support?
  • Are education staff aware of and able to meet the young person's educational needs, including any special needs or abilities?
  • Are the health unit and wing staff aware of, and able to meet, the young person's health needs?
  • Are staff aware of, and able to meet, the young person's religious and cultural needs?
  • Is the young person worried about anything? If so, what?
  • What impact has the sentence had on family relationships? Does there need to be help with contact arrangements?
  • What action is needed to the young person's Care Plan/Pathway Plan?

This assessment should be informed by the views of YOT case manager, staff in the custodial establishment, the young person and family. This assessment will form the basis of an interim plan as to how the young person's needs will be met in custody and who is responsible for each aspect of the plan.

5.5 Action to be Taken if there are Concerns about the Child's Safety or Welfare

It should be borne in mind that all agencies and staff have a duty to ensure that children are safeguarded effectively and the Youth Justice Board which commissions custodial placements have a responsibility that the placement provides safe and appropriate care. All custodial placements should be clear with the young person themselves as to how they will be safeguarded, including from being bullied.

The LSCB also has a strategic responsibility.

Wherever there are concerns about a child’s welfare, although the local authority does not have the power to change the secure establishment, there is a duty to promote the young person’s welfare. Therefore, where there are concerns:

  • The local authority and the secure establishment should seek to resolve these, noting that YOIs should have a safeguarding manager; the Registered Manager or designated lead of an SCH or STC should be approached;
  • Consideration should be given to put in writing a request to the YJB / YJB Placement Team; the Establishment themselves or YOT for a ‘Placement Review’.

    This may lead to the young person moving to an alternative placement to complete their sentence;
  • It should also be noted that all custodial establishments have a ‘Complaints Procedure’ and social workers should ask about this at the point of the young person’s admission.

5.6 Establishment Link Person

A person within the custodial establishment should be nominated to act as the link with the care planning process. They should be informed of the key elements of the young person's Care Plan and keep the social worker informed of the young person's progress and events within the establishment. The young person's YOT case manager should also be kept informed of changes to the Care Plan and other relevant information. Subject to the young person's agreement, the YOT case manager and nominated link person should be invited to attend review meetings.

5.7 Planning for Release

Young people are particularly vulnerable in the early days of release and may need considerable emotional and practical support.

The young person’s social worker should attend the release preparation meeting. If the social worker cannot attend, he/she must provide relevant information about the young person’s Care or Pathway Plan to the YOT case manager prior to the meeting.

The young person's social worker and YOT case manager must work together to co-ordinate arrangements for the young person's release and subsequent support in the community. The young person will continue to have 2 separate plans: the Care Plan (which may include the Pathway Plan), and the YOT plan. They must be co-ordinated.

Where a review of the young person's case chaired by the IRO has not already occurred, the social worker in conjunction with the IRO must arrange for a review prior to the young person's release from custody. The timing might be scheduled so that it is co-ordinated with the release preparation meeting.

If the young person is to continue being Looked After, the Local Authority will be responsible for the provision of a placement and financial support in the community. The social worker should record the plan for how this support is to be provided and make copies available to the young person, the YOT case manager, the IRO, and other agencies that will be involved with supporting the young person after release and family if appropriate.

There will be potential areas of overlap where arrangements may be made by either the YOT case manager or the social worker (e.g. health and education). Negotiation should take place on which of them is best placed to make the arrangements in each case.

As soon as possible, and at least by the time of the final sentence planning meeting 10 working days before release, the young person must be told the content of both the Care Plan and the Notice of Supervision or Licence so that s/he is aware of:

  • Who is collecting him/her;
  • Where s/he will be living;
  • The reporting arrangements;
  • Sources of support - including out of hours;
  • The arrangements for education or employment;
  • Arrangements for meeting continued health needs;
  • How and when s/he will receive financial support;
  • When s/he will be seeing his/her social worker; and
  • The roles and responsibilities of the respective practitioners.

Where the young person is serving his/her sentence (or part of it) in the community, the social worker and YOT case manager should keep each other informed of significant events, including any changes in service delivery or plans.

It is good practice to have some joint meetings involving the young person, the YOT case manager and the social worker. Where the young person is having difficulty in complying with his/her Notice of Supervision or Licence conditions, the social worker should work with the YOT to put additional support in place.


Appendix 1: Overview of the Care Planning, Placement and Review Process Flowchart’

See Annex 2: Overview of the Care Planning, Placement and Review Process Flowchart of the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations: Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015).


Appendix 2: Changes to Care Status as a Result of Criminal Justice Decisions

See Annex 8: Changes to Care Status as a Result of Criminal Justice Decisions of the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations: Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015).

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