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Criminal Care? · 15 Nov 2018

Policing the Community and residential care

Yesterday the Howard League held its Policing the Community conference and the day included a plenary session which I chaired on criminalisation and residential care.

The session’s first speaker was Claire Sands of this parish, who ran through the programme of work and the Howard League’s briefings so far. We then heard from Amber James of Hampshire County Council. Amber explained how the local authority had developed its own direct provision of residential care in Hampshire – something we have blogged about before.

The session closed by hearing from Ann Coffey, Member of Parliament for Stockport and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Runaway and Missing Children and Adults.

The APPG has done a number of important reports over recent years into issues our own work has touched on. In 2012, the APPG reported on children missing from home and care – highlighting the harm to children was not being identified whilst missing. Subsequent reports have examined the safeguarding of ‘absent children’ and children who go missing and are victims of criminal exploitation.

More children are being placed in distant placements and more of those children go missing from homes

Ann’s presentation focused on her concerns about of out-of-area placements. More children are being placed in distant placements, more children are going missing from children’s homes and more of those children are from out-of-area placements. We’ll be picking up on these issues and the interaction with the hot topic of county lines next year.

Finally, the conference also included the announcement of the Howard League’s Community Awards 2018. For the first time these included a category on preventing criminalisation in residential care. A special commendation for policy development went to Scotland’s Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice and their ‘Next Steps’ project – the subject of another previous blog post. And the winner was the Caldecott Foundation, a charity running children’s homes which has seen some dramatic success in driving down its reliance on the police in recent years.

We hope that the residential care category of the Awards receives even more entries next year and that more providers will have good stories to tell about how they are working to end the criminalisation of children in residential care.

UPDATE: Debbie Nolan, the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice’s Practice Advisor and co-founder of the ‘Next Steps’ project, has also blogged about the conference and the work of the CYCJ.

Andrew Neilson

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