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Young offenders ‘failed’ by care system

Children in care supervised by youth offending teams have been ‘failed’, a new report suggests. The Inspectorate of Probation found that basic checks were not made when placing these children in care.

Around 3,000 children are supervised by these teams in England and Wales, and the report examined 60 cases.

The report found that around a third were placed over 100 miles from home and nearly two thirds were 50 miles away, despite regulations requiring local authorities to allow children in care to live near home as far as is reasonably practicable.

Youth offending teams gave ‘little thought’ to the emotional impact of placing children who had been in trouble with the law into care, the report suggested.

In two thirds of the cases examined, children were not sufficiently protected due to poor planning and assessment, with a fifth of children becoming a victim on crime whilst under supervision. Just over half offended themselves within the care environment.

Chief inspector of probation Liz Calderbank said: “What we saw in this inspection really shocked us. The case histories were really quite distressing. You have to ask yourself – what kind of adults will they grow up to be?”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Children placed far from their homes are extremely vulnerable. It is essential that local authorities responsible for them provide the vital support they need to keep them safe and well and to encourage their potential. Where children are offenders, this will include working with Youth Offending services to prevent any re-offending.”

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “Let down by families and local authorities alike, with a trail of failed placements and further and further from home, far too many children find themselves on the dreary, damaging route from care to custody.

“Too often, the state proves to be a poor parent as the tiny minority of children in care become the substantial number behind bars.”

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