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.