Looked After Children – Restorative Project

This project is aimed at reducing offending in children who are in Foster Care and Residential Placements. Foster carers and staff at residential placements are able to contact the YOS to discuss incidents and access support and restorative intervention.

Introduction

This document is in relation to young people aged 10 – 17 years and aims to enhance the good practice already in place across Gwent to meet the needs of Looked After Children
The Protocol aims to strike a balance between the rights and needs of the children and young people, the rights of staff and foster carers, and the decision to involve the Police and/or CPS whilst attempting to reduce the prosecution of Looked After Children wherever possible.

The Protocol supports the National Minimum Standards for Children’s Homes issued by the Welsh Government under Section 23 of the Care Standards Act 2000 (CSA).
The Protocol underlines the importance of regular and effective liaison between children’s’ homes staff and managers, foster carers, the social worker and managers, the Youth Offending Service/Prevention Team, local Neighbourhood Policing Teams, and Crown Prosecutors.

Deciding whether or not to involve the police

It is recognised that caring for, and managing young people with difficult or challenging behaviour is an integral feature of residential care work and foster care. Children’s home staff and foster carers will generally manage problematic situations except where they are so severe that immediate Police involvement is essential in order to avoid physical assault or damage.

Ongoing Liaison

Police involvement in children’s homes will be through the Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Neighbourhood Schools’ Officers and Missing Person Co-ordinators. (See Appendix A for details of how to contact your local NPT, NSO or MPC).

Regular liaison meetings between Neighbourhood Policing Teams and staff in children’s homes will provide for discussion of non urgent incidents within the home to identify the appropriate method of resolution, including:

  • Internal action by children’s home staff with no Police involvement.
  • Invitation to local Neighbourhood Policing Team to support internal action being taken by staff in children’s homes by attending a meeting with the young person and staff at the home.
  • Formal Police investigation primarily by the Neighbourhood Policing Teams and any resulting action.

This liaison meeting will also provide an opportunity to share more general views and co-operation and develop a better understanding of each Agency’s responsibilities and practices.

It is not the intention of this Protocol to restrict the options available to staff in children’s homes and Police but to emphasise the importance of flexibility in determining the most suitable option for dealing with children and young persons. Additional advice and support could be sought from the child’s social worker.

Restorative Approaches

Restorative Approaches are effective in preventing escalation. The Protocol aims to reduce the prosecution of Looked After Children, wherever possible, by encouraging the use of Restorative Approaches. Restorative Approaches is a process whereby the victim has an opportunity to be heard and to state the impact of the behaviour and the young person has the opportunity to take responsibility for his or her actions.

Training will be provided to all social workers in fostering teams, foster carers, and residential unit staff on the delivery of Restorative Approaches. The training will also cover tools crated to assist in delivering this approach.

The Gwent Youth Offending Services for Blaenau Gwent & Caerphilly and Monmouth sire & Torfaen and Newport will be supporting this Protocol by accepting referrals for cases dealt with via a Restorative Approaches, which identify ongoing concerns that could lead to prosecution in the future.

Requirement for police involvement

Staff and carers need to consider the nature and seriousness of the incident before deciding whether to involve the Police immediately, at a later stage, or whether to involve them at all, but all matters should be entered in an incident log for residential children’s homes, and in the incident log file for foster carers. It is crucial that communication between children’s home staff, foster carers and the Police regarding an incident is clear and factual.

Factors to be Considered

The following factors should be considered when determining what action to take. The list is not exhaustive, and does not reflect any order of priority:

  • Nature and seriousness of the allegation
  • Severity of the injury sustained/nature of threat received by the victim
  • Wishes and best interest of the victim
  • Previous incidents of a similar nature by the same child or young person
  • Previous relationship between victim and child who offended
  • Previous behaviour or offending, bullying/peer pressure/duress
  • Probability of a repeat incident
  • Potential impact on the child/young person following formal Police involvement
  • Appropriateness of Police action/court proceedings
  • Future best interests of all parties concerned
  • Message sent to other young people/Confidence in being able to report crimes and confidence in knowing they may not result in court proceedings
  • Availability of alternative causes of action, e.g. restorative approaches with the consent of the victim, referral to the Youth Offending Service or alternative service
  • Level/value of damage caused
  • Requirement for formal investigation, e.g. insurance claim requires a crime reference report

Information Sharing

The setting out of arrangements for information sharing and disclosure in line with the provisions of Data Protection Act and Crime and Disorder Act Section 115.

Recording of Incidents

By residential staff

It is necessary for incidents within children’s homes to be accurately recorded so as to provide informed histories on the children and young persons looked after, assisting with assessments and liaison meetings.

All incidents must be recorded in the personal file of each young person and entered in the Home’s Day Book/ Incident Log. Risk assessments should be reviewed. This
provision also applies to incidents discussed through regular liaison with local
Neighbourhood Policing Teams and where relevant Missing Person Co-ordinators.

By foster carers

It is necessary for incidents within foster care placements to be accurately recorded so as to provide informed histories on the children and young persons looked after,
assisting with assessments and liaison meetings.

All incidents must be recorded in the ring binders of each young person and reported to the family placement social worker and the child’s social worker. Risk assessments should be reviewed.

Whether to Record (Police)

In April 2002, the police service in England and Wales adopted the National Crime
Recording Standard (NCRS). It governs the way in which the police record crime.
Under this standard, the police will record an incident as a crime (notifiable offence)
against an identified victim if the circumstances as reported amount to a crime defined by the law and there is no credible evidence to the contrary.

Behaviour management policies

Each home must have a written Behaviour Management Policy that sets out the measures of control, restraint and discipline which may be used in the children’s home and the means whereby appropriate behaviour is to be promoted in the home.

Monitoring

To evaluate compliance with this Protocol, regular meetings should be held between the Police, Children’s Homes and Foster Care Providers, Youth Offending Services, and CPS. This will be done via a Looked After Children multi-agency steering group on behalf of the Gwent Criminal Justice System Strategy Board.

The group will also ensure that this document is reviewed on an annual basis.

Contacts

Each area in Gwent has a dedicated Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) which
includes Police Officers, Police Community Support Officers and Neighbourhood
Schools Officers.

There are a number of ways that you can find the contact details of your local NPT. You can:

  • Call the Gwent Police non-emergency number 101
  • Visit your local Police station
  • Visit the Gwent Police website at www.Gwent.police.uk

The Gwent Missing Project can be contacted by professionals on 01495 745660

The Youth Offending Services contact details are:

Blaenau Gwent & Caerphilly – 01495 235623
Monmouthshire/Torfaen – 01495 768300
Newport – 01633 292900

Click here to download the flowchart of intervention

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