This project explored the backgrounds of young people from England referred to Secure Accommodation for welfare reasons between October 2016 and March 2018, and their outcomes in the year after referral.
Referring young people to Secure Accommodation for welfare reasons is a serious action made by local authorities when a young person is perceived as a risk to themselves, a risk to others or as likely to abscond if placed elsewhere. Surprisingly, even when a successful application for a secure order is made the current lack of places in secure units sees a significant number of young people placed in an ‘alternative accommodation’ which is provided by their local authority. To date knowledge of the experiences and outcomes of young people from England referred to secure accommodation is sparse, and of none of those referred to secure accommodation but placed elsewhere could be found.
This quantitative study drew on routine data collected by local authorities and the Secure Welfare Co-ordination Unit to explore the backgrounds, well-being and care histories of a cohort of young people from England before referral to secure accommodation; their care and wider outcomes in the year after the referral and the costs of the stay. Throughout this, the study focused on differences between young people placed in a secure accommodation unit and those placed in an alternative accommodation.
Activities and Methods
First, researchers applied to the Department for Education for access to Local Authority Children in Need and Child Looked after returns, for the year April 1st 2016 – 2017. This process took 7 months. The team also contacted the Secure Welfare Co-ordination Unit to ask if they would supply their referral records or this year. On receipt it was found that quality of referral records from May – Sept were poor. This reduction in the expected sample led to a further application for all records for the year April 2017 – April 2018. Gaining permission took another 9 months.
An interim report based on the first set of data has been supplied to the study commissioners. This phase found that approximately two fifths of young people referred to secure accommodation are placed in an alternative accommodation. Further results are imminent and will be published by the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care
|Principal Investigator||Dr Annie Williams|