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A joint thematic inspection of work with children subject to remand in youth detention


Read the report and press release: A joint thematic inspection of work with children subject to remand in youth detention

This report, published on 23 November looked at a sample of children on remand in England and Wales.

At any given time, there are around 200 to 250 children remanded in youth detention. Some of these children are extremely vulnerable and a minority have been charged with very serious offences that resulted in life-changing injuries or loss of life.

The inspection found:

  • a quarter of the children were released on bail before being sentenced, and inspectors judged that more of them could have been safely managed in the community
  • nearly half of the children in the cases reviewed had no previous convictions and some of the remands were long, lasting more than a year
  • in many cases children made no comment at the police interview but this was not always to the child’s benefit as admitting the offence at that stage might have made bail more likely
  • in just under three-quarters of cases the Youth Justice Service did not offer a bail programme at the child’s first remand hearing.

Interim Chief Inspector of Probation Sue McAllister said:

“While we acknowledge that for some children remand into youth detention is necessary due to the severity of an alleged crime, we found that more could be safely managed in the community. Where effective and wide-ranging support is in place, Youth Justice Services can properly care for a child, monitor their risk of serious harm, and place them in suitable accommodation. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many services and results in children being placed in youth detention or secure children’s homes, often for long periods of time.

“Generally, we want to see a more streamlined approach to managing children from the very start, in the hope that they can be properly assessed, and that remand does not become the default option. We have also called for an urgent review of the numbers of Black and mixed heritage children on remand, given the concerning over-representation we found during this inspection. I look forward to seeing our wide-ranging recommendations put into practice in the near future.”

Chief Inspector of HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Charlie Taylor said:

“Children are spending longer on remand, and this has led to the largest proportion of children in custody being on remand in ten years. This is very concerning, especially when many children were remanded far from home. The distances involved make it much harder for families and friends to visit, providing vital support to children, and we found that the cost of keeping in touch by telephone calls was prohibitive for some children. We are asking that children on remand should not have to pay to speak to their families or social workers, helping to preserve those vital ties.”

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care said:

“Secure children’s homes are generally delivering good quality care, but we are very concerned by the poor experiences of children in secure training centres and young offender institutions. The report also highlights, once again, the disproportionality of black and minority ethnic children in the secure estate, and the disparities they face.

“Local authority children’s services are working under increasing pressures to deliver the best outcomes they can for children. However, better collaboration is needed with youth justice services to ensure looked-after children receive the services they are entitled to, and the right support at the right time.”