Magazine article Public Finance

Young Offenders Lacking Help, Report Finds

Magazine article Public Finance

Young Offenders Lacking Help, Report Finds

Article excerpt

A sharp rise in the child prison population has left councils hard pressed to meet their statutory duties to care for vulnerable child ex-offenders, say town hall leaders.

The Local Government Association was responding to a report by the Howard League for Penal Reform which found 'serious gaps' in the support given to children leaving custody.

Les Lawrence, the LGA spokesman on children and young people, said: 'An explosion in the child prison population over the past decade has placed an intolerable burden on councils in an area where resources are already stretched and difficult decisions need to be made.'

The Howard League's report Chaos, neglect and abuse found that many children entering or leaving youth custody had not been assessed under the 1989 Children's Act.

They had therefore not been identified as in need of support such as housing and counselling once they left custody.

A further confusion stemmed from a lack of awareness by local authorities that their duty of care extended to children in custody.

Even where local authorities were aware of a child's need for support, the help given was often inadequate, the report found.

'A typical response by some social services departments is simply to instruct the child to attend the homeless persons' unit on the day of release from where they will invariably be offered bed and breakfast,' said the report. …

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