7.1.8 Safeguarding Children: Child Contact

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Public Protection Manual Statement 
  3. Public Protection Support Leaflet (April ’04)
  4. The Process


1. Introduction

A need has been identified for local child contact procedures to be developed at HM YPI Feltham in line with, and adhering to, the Prison Service Public Protection Manual.

The main issue to address is the fact that, by the very nature of the prisoner population at Feltham, we are dealing with a lot of peer group offences. This can mean that a large number of the young people in our care are highlighted as posing a risk to children when in fact this is often not found to be the case when the full details of their particular offence are considered.


2. The Public Protection Manual States the Following

Proportionality 

‘It is necessary to identify and manage the risk in a manner that is proportionate to the individual concerned and not to apply the same arrangements to all prisoners. Decisions to prevent or restrict contact need to take into account the risk presented by the young person, the needs and best interests of the child, balanced against the prisoner’s right to a family life. In all cases decisions will be based on what is best for the child. The welfare and safety of the child is primary concern.

The rights of a child to be safeguarded and protected from harm must take priority over a young persons right to family life as set out in the

1998 Human Rights Act if the young person’s right would mean that contact could place a child at risk. It is therefore appropriate that incremental restrictions are employed where required in the interests of the child’.


3. Statement From the Public Protection Support Leaflet (April 2004)

‘It is hoped that establishments will take the necessary steps to remove prisoners from the procedures where they are assessed as not continuing to present a risk to children. This may be particularly relevant in establishments who have a high population of young offenders, where they have offended against someone of a similar age. For example, where a 17 year old commits an assault on a 15 year old and the victim was not targeted because he or she was a child’.


4. The Process

In cases where the full process is not deemed necessary (after the full details of the case have been examined by the Public Protection Manager) the following procedures should be followed:

Request reports from the following areas/agencies

  • Parent or Guardian
  • YOT worker
  • Children's Services
  • Police
  • Resettlement worker/Remand Liaison Caseworker
  • Personal Officer
  • Probation
  • Any other relevant agencies

NB: Experience has shown that requests for these reports will not always be successful. Please allow up to 10 working days for these reports to be returned. After this time submit any available information to the Public Protection Manager. Then a multi disciplinary assessment will take place involving Public Protection, Resettlement and Child Protection to decide if the young person should be removed from the ‘Safer Child’ listing to allow agreed family member visits. If it is decided they should be removed from the listing and visits allowed then the following should be applied:

  • Consider if there is any need for specific stipulations to the child contact agreement. Eg: Ensure only specifically named adults will be allowed to accompany the visiting children.
  • Request photographs of children from parents for Public protection office and Security file and visits purposes.
  • Write brief report with recommendation for visiting arrangements for approval from the Safeguards Manager.
  • Write to parents of children to inform them of the decision and outline specific arrangements to be put in place. Inform parents that they should bring the letter with them on any visits to the establishment.
  • Memo to visits booking office with details of visiting children and any special arrangements.
  • Inform young person involved and their unit Senior Officer.

It is not possible to state that a particular offence should be considered a higher risk over another and therefore the guidelines already in place in the Safeguarding Children Procedures should still be followed in all cases until further information is known.

The usual mail and telephone monitoring procedures should always be followed and adhered to.

Signed: _________________________ Date: _____________________

Helga Swidenbank (Deputy Governor)

End