Action indispensable opposite ‘rogue’ homes for teenagers, says minister

Nadhim Zahawi

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Nadhim Zahawi pronounced full law of some 16+ accommodation would be a “knee-jerk reaction” to criticism

Unregulated accommodation for 16 and 17-year-olds might be theme to chartering and registration after claims children were being put during risk.

Children’s apportion Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Newsnight he wanted to discharge a “rogue element” in some 16+ upheld and semi-supported accommodation.

His difference follow calls to umpire these homes. Standard children’s homes are regulated by Ofsted.

But Mr Zahawi pronounced full law would be a “knee-jerk reaction”.

He pronounced full law of what Newsnight has termed “hidden children’s homes” could finish adult “throwing a baby out with a bathwater”.

But he combined he was “looking during chartering and registering”.

The supervision is holding a roundtable assembly of caring experts to plead “best practice” later.

The array of teenagers sent to unregulated caring homes outward their home precinct has doubled given 2014 and information seen by Newsnight indicates they are set to arise serve this year.

Missing children cases

Police have lifted concerns to Newsnight about a array of teenagers reported blank from these homes – in one box a child had left blank some-more than 100 times.

In a initial of a array of special reports, Britain’s Hidden Children’s Homes, Newsnight schooled that – according to total from a Department for Education – about 5,000 looked-after children in England are in supposed 16+ upheld or semi-supported accommodation.

This is a 70% arise in a decade.

This form of accommodation is not legalised or purebred by Ofsted, even yet residents are in a caring of a state.

Because a teenagers are deemed to be receiving support, rather than care, a accommodation is not theme to a same checks and inspections as purebred children’s homes.

Unregulated homes can mostly be simply a residence on a residential street, with staff on site or visiting for as small as a few hours a week.

  • Teens in caring ‘abandoned to crime gangs’
  • Thousands of teenagers vital alone ‘in care’
  • Ofsted closes down 12 children’s homes

Bedfordshire Police is one of a army that has called for larger law of these homes. It has given Newsnight entrance to film a impact that cases of blank children from caring are carrying on a force.

Officers contend many blank persons cases engage teenagers from unregulated homes. And of these, many teenagers have been re-housed from other areas of a country.

Newsnight has surveyed each internal management children’s services dialect in a UK to find out how many teenagers in caring were being changed outward of their home area.

In 2018, some-more than 2,000 16 and 17-year-olds were placed out of precinct in this kind of care, information for England from a Department for Education shows. Four years earlier, a figure was 1,020. New information Newsnight has seen suggests that a figure is still rising.

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Getty Images

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Police have lifted concerns to about a array of teenagers reported blank from unregulated accommodation

Oxfordshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Peterborough, Swindon, Sandwell, Stockton on Tees and Cambridgeshire councils – as good as a London Boroughs of Enfield, Newham and Kensington and Chelsea – had all sent looked after children to unregulated homes in Bedfordshire.

This is information that Bedfordshire itself did not hold. Bedfordshire Police has common with Newsnight examples of out of precinct placements that have caused concern.

These include:

  • A child from a internal management in a Midlands on bail for blade indicate robberies and passionate offences, placed in an unregulated home in Bedfordshire with immature womanlike residents
  • A child in a caring of a legislature in a south west placed in 16+ accommodation with a famous drug play and travel robber, after starting a glow in his prior placement
  • Two children from opposition London gangs placed together in an unregulated home. One child finished adult stabbing a other

DCI Steve Ashdown from Bedfordshire Police criticised a use of fixation teenagers in unregulated caring homes, observant a “lack of inspection usually exposes a poignant volume of children to risk”.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) pronounced internal authorities do “many things” – including unannounced checks and DBS checks – to guard provision.

Bedfordshire is not a usually hotspot for unregulated children’s homes. A consult by a BBC’s FOI researchers indicated that during slightest 14 councils – trimming from Manchester and Peterborough to Croydon and Ealing – are all home to some-more out of precinct placements than Bedfordshire.

You can watch Newsnight on BBC Two weekdays during 22:30 or on iPlayer, allow to a programme on YouTube and follow it on Twitter.

Action needed against ‘rogue’ homes for teenagers, says minister

Nadhim Zahawi

Image caption

Nadhim Zahawi said full regulation of some 16+ accommodation would be a “knee-jerk reaction” to criticism

Unregulated accommodation for 16 and 17-year-olds may be subject to licensing and registration after claims children were being put at risk.

Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Newsnight he wanted to eliminate a “rogue element” in some 16+ supported and semi-supported accommodation.

His words follow calls to regulate these homes. Standard children’s homes are regulated by Ofsted.

But Mr Zahawi said full regulation would be a “knee-jerk reaction”.

He said full regulation of what Newsnight has termed “hidden children’s homes” could end up “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.

But he added he was “looking at licensing and registering”.

The government is holding a roundtable meeting of care experts to discuss “best practice” later.

The number of teenagers sent to unregulated care homes outside their home borough has doubled since 2014 and data seen by Newsnight indicates they are set to rise further this year.

Missing children cases

Police have raised concerns to Newsnight about the number of teenagers reported missing from these homes – in one case a child had gone missing more than 100 times.

In the first of a series of special reports, Britain’s Hidden Children’s Homes, Newsnight learned that – according to figures from the Department for Education – about 5,000 looked-after children in England are in so-called 16+ supported or semi-supported accommodation.

This is a 70% rise in a decade.

This type of accommodation is not inspected or registered by Ofsted, even though residents are in the care of the state.

Because the teenagers are deemed to be receiving support, rather than care, the accommodation is not subject to the same checks and inspections as registered children’s homes.

Unregulated homes can often be simply a house on a residential street, with staff on site or visiting for as little as a few hours a week.

  • Teens in care ‘abandoned to crime gangs’
  • Thousands of teens living alone ‘in care’
  • Ofsted closes down 12 children’s homes

Bedfordshire Police is one of the forces that has called for greater regulation of these homes. It has given Newsnight access to film the impact that cases of missing children from care are having on the force.

Officers say many missing persons cases involve teenagers from unregulated homes. And of these, many teenagers have been re-housed from other areas of the country.

Newsnight has surveyed every local authority children’s services department in the UK to find out how many teenagers in care were being moved outside of their home area.

In 2018, more than 2,000 16 and 17-year-olds were placed out of borough in this kind of care, data for England from the Department for Education shows. Four years earlier, the figure was 1,020. New data Newsnight has seen suggests that the figure is still rising.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Police have raised concerns to about the number of teenagers reported missing from unregulated accommodation

Oxfordshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Peterborough, Swindon, Sandwell, Stockton on Tees and Cambridgeshire councils – as well as the London Boroughs of Enfield, Newham and Kensington and Chelsea – had all sent looked after children to unregulated homes in Bedfordshire.

This is information that Bedfordshire itself did not hold. Bedfordshire Police has shared with Newsnight examples of out of borough placements that have caused concern.

These include:

  • A child from a local authority in the Midlands on bail for knife point robberies and sexual offences, placed in an unregulated home in Bedfordshire with young female residents
  • A child in the care of a council in the south west placed in 16+ accommodation with a known drug dealer and street robber, after starting a fire in his previous placement
  • Two children from rival London gangs placed together in an unregulated home. One boy ended up stabbing the other

DCI Steve Ashdown from Bedfordshire Police criticised the practice of placing teenagers in unregulated care homes, saying the “lack of scrutiny just exposes a significant amount of children to risk”.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) said local authorities do “many things” – including unannounced checks and DBS checks – to monitor provision.

Bedfordshire is not the only hotspot for unregulated children’s homes. A survey by the BBC’s FOI researchers indicated that at least 14 councils – ranging from Manchester and Peterborough to Croydon and Ealing – are all home to more out of borough placements than Bedfordshire.

You can watch Newsnight on BBC Two weekdays at 22:30 or on iPlayer, subscribe to the programme on YouTube and follow it on Twitter.