Month: March 2017

MPs urged to challenge changes to secure accommodation

Article 39 continues to challenge changes pushed through House of Commons Committee stage, which will allow looked after children from England to be detained in secure accommodation in Scotland on welfare grounds.

The changes to the Children Act 1989 were tabled by Children’s Minister Edward Timpson MP in December 2016, as amendments to the Children and Social Work Bill. There was no public consultation.

These legal changes arise from cases which went to the High Court last year. Cumbria and Blackpool local authorities sought authorisation to detain looked after children in secure accommodation in Scotland due to lack of specialist provision here.

Between 2010 and 2016, there was a 21% reduction in places in secure accommodation in England, with a loss of 61 places.

Shadow Children’s Minister Emma Lewell-Buck has tabled an amendment to the Bill, which will bring an end to the Children Act 1989 changes in 2019. This would give time for consultation and a proper examination of the impact on children’s rights and welfare, as well as developing provision close to children’s homes, education and local services. The amendment will be discussed in the House of Commons tomorrow (7 March).

Read our joint briefing with the British Association of Social Workers, Children England and the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers.


Children and Young People Now magazine reported earlier today that it understands Ministers will back amendments to the Children and Social Work Bill, to delete the exemption clauses. This has now been confirmed: the Education Secretary Justice Greening has added her name to the Shadow Children’s Minister’s amendments to LEAVE OUT the exemption clauses (32-39).

Article 39 fought the clauses since the Bill was published at the end of May 2016. With others, we established the Together for Children campaign, which has 52 organisations and over 160 individual experts behind it. The campaign’s online petition attracted over 108,000 signatures.

We were delighted when Peers removed the clauses back in November, and had confidence they would once again defend children’s rights when the Bill returned after the Commons.

Shadow Children’s Minister Emma Lewell-Buck has led the parliamentary attack on the clauses in the Commons, with former Children’s Minister Tim Loughton also robustly defending universal legal protection for vulnerable children and young people.

Article 39’s Director, Carolyne Willow, says:

“This is extraordinarily excellent news for children and young people across the country. Their legal protection will now remain intact, wherever they live and whoever looks after them. What a fight it has been to defend these fundamental rights, but how wonderful it is that Ministers have done right by children and young people.”

The Bill reaches its next parliamentary stage on Tuesday, 7 March, when the exemption clauses will be removed once and for all.