11.45 – 13.00 (including time for questions & evaluation cards)
For info from application. The workshop content aligns with a number a number of the key conference themes: How we can continue to promote children’s rights and advocacy Relationships with staff, children and young people, families, and beyond The realities of working and living within a risk-averse environment Policy, regulation and legislation Workforce development and qualifications: is ‘ordinary’ parenting enough? Working with trauma, including adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) Provision of effective and supportive spaces for practitioners
Hello and welcome, thank you for joining us for this session. We are really grateful to have been invited along and feel this is a really important topic.
At the outset we should set our baseline out: RCC vital part of the continuum of care-important, valued and integral part of children’s services, that can offer the best possible care and protection for those children and young people who need intensive care and support, whatever their age, and which builds their resilience and prepares them for the future. Positive and the right choice for many yp; entry to care can reduce offending and promote desistance; The vast majority of looked after children do not come to the attention of the police and in RCC when they do this can be for a range of reasons, including absconding, victimization, and offending within the residential units or community; AND times serious incidents will take place and in such instances police contact may be the appropriate response. The relationship between care, offending and criminalization is neither automatic nor straightforward with various efforts made to explain overrepresentation; often 3 fold focus Firstly, it is noted that the risk factors for entering care are similar to those for young people becoming involved in offending such as experiences of adversity, trauma, abuse and neglect. The second explanation focuses on the potential consequences of being in care that can increase the risk factors for involvement in offending and thus the likelihood of criminalisation, such as placement instability; responses to missing episodes/absconding; peer group influences; loss of attachment to family and friends; and the increased likelihood of being criminalised for behaviour that, were they at home with parents or other carers, would be unlikely to result in police contact (NACRO, 2003; Bateman et al., 2018). As a result Ashford and Morgan (2004) have described young people in care as experiencing a form of ‘double jeopardy’. The third explanation relates to the response of justice system to looked after children once system contact has been made and the potential for a more punitive and formal response than for non-looked after peers (Bateman et al., 2018).
So aims are
1145-1205 Debbie 1205-1225 John 1225-1245 (5 mins on each of discussion points and 5 minutes feedback) 1245-1255 Questions 1255-1300 Evaluation cards
20 minutes from me?
Criminalisation of LAC has been longstanding concern, 2003 nacro Young people who are looked after away from home are three times more likely to be charged with offences than those in the general population. 2006 Scottish Executive data not readily accessible as most local authorities ‘do not have regular and systematic processes for measuring the profile of incidents within residential units and offending in the community by this group’ (Scottish Executive, 2006, p. ii). 2018 before recognition that LAC are more likely to have been reported to police – and therefore to attract a criminalising state response than non LA peers and that care leavers are overrepresented in the criminal justice system-ACR policy memorandum would appear first time this was formally recognised.
Still lack robust, regularly collected and holistic data is extremely limited meaning often rely anecdotal evidence or retrospective evidence, often the main one being the SPS prisoner survey which comes with various caveats but the 2017 survey of young people indicates that just under a half of young people in custody (46%) reported being in care as a child and over a quarter (27%) were in care at the age of sixteen. Those who have been in care make up an estimated 0.5% of the general population.
Some research attention eg Gentleman 2009 overrep LAC in persistent YO and how decision making and staff could be supported
Paul 2008 checklist of factors could support Reducing Offending in Residential Childcare Both these pieces found many similarities to our subsequent work
Developments including WSA how respond to all children involved in offending
areas of good practice and focus on these issues but lack of concerted attention.
While our aim would be that no child in Scotland came to the attention of the police, we know that when serious incidents take place the police should be involved. However, it is critical that young people are not unnecessarily warranting such attention, requiring good quality, robust, consistent, considered and confident decision making in responding to offending behaviour, towards the aims of ensuring police contact is avoided unless absolutely necessary. The reason for this are: Short term: Once contact with is made with justice system young people journey can take many routes as highlighted in YPJ. Contact with the youth justice system is ironically the biggest factor in whether someone will continue offending Edinburgh study clearly highlighted the negative impact of system involvement and the importance of keeping yp out of formal systems where possible. Once in the system, labelling, stigma, and becoming identified as usual suspect and self-fulfilling prophecy, can this can result in repeated and amplified contact, which underlines the importance of minimal intervention and avoidance of stigmatisation and criminalisation. Long-term impact: The requirement to disclose criminal records can adversely affect access to employment, education, training, volunteering opportunities, housing, insurance and travel for visas. Many of these factors are recognised as critical in promoting positive outcomes, reducing reoffending, supporting reintegration, promoting desistance and in children’s development into adulthood, AND are areas which LAC are already disadvantaged in. But fundamentally and as people were extremely clear about in our work, this a matter of rights and corporate parenting. Part 9 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 requires Scottish Ministers and a range of other public sector bodies (including local authorities, Police Scotland, the Care Inspectorate and the Mental Welfare Commission) to uphold particular responsibilities across all areas of their work. Corporate parents have various duties to all looked after children and care leavers up to (and including) the age of 25 . Every corporate parent is expected to fulfil these statutory duties in their own way, consistent with their purpose and functions, which include being alert to matters which adversely affect the wellbeing of looked after children, young people and care leavers; Promoting the interests of those children and young people; Seeking to provide opportunities which will promote the wellbeing of looked after children, young people and care leavers and Statutory guidance recommends that every corporate parent considers, in the context of their primary functions, their contribution towards reducing the number of looked after children and care leavers who enter the youth and criminal justice systems. Rights-unnecessary police contact does not uphold childrens rights Would it be good enough for our own children?
So in 2015 CYCJ began research on this topic, as detailed in 2016 Between a rock report. For our study we involved two local authorities , we took a mixed methods approach - we asked for police contact data in each house over a 6 month period, 8 surveys to house managers or deputy; 16 responses other LAs nationally to brief survey on protocols; 27 interviews with residential childcare workers. Keen to give not just empirical evidence but opportunity for voice of residential staff to be heard. It is worth mentioning that this was a small scale study and limited to only LA CH not other sectors or secure.
Data indicated that in local authority A there were 42 young people placed in LA children’s houses in the six month period studied of which 43% came to police attention, in authority B there were 18 young people placed across that same time period of which half came to police attention.
In authority A there were 71 recorded ‘police incidents’ in the 6 months, these involved 115 identified allegations/offences and 59 of these led to formal charges. Around half of incidents that resulted in police involvement took place elsewhere in the community rather than the house itself. Interestingly almost all of the community incidents resulted in a charge, only 6% did not, whereas in the childrens house over a fifth of incidents did not result in charges. When the types of charges are examined we can see that within the house 33% were for cases of Vandalism, followed by Breach of the peace/threatening behaviour, assault, breach of bail, drugs and taxi fraud. The majority of these offences were committed by a small number of young people. This has provided only a very partial picture but what this information does show is concerning.
We also identified that responding to offending behaviour is inherently complex, involving the reconciling of a range of dilemmas and tensions, necessitating professional judgment to provide individualised responses. As illustrated in the title of our paper Between a rock and a hard place, what we found however was responding to offending in RCC was inherently complex and challenging. This has been found in other research/literature and discussions we are having with RCC workers.
Range of factors effect decisions and at heart is the need to provide children with individualised responses to need.
Factors specific to the incident including: Whether the safety of the young person, other young people in the house, or staff were at risk; whether staff could control the behaviour; the severity of the behaviour; and the type of behaviour.
There were also factors specific to the young person like whether the young person was under the influence of alcohol/substances and/or their mental health , the frequency of the behaviour, and the potential impact of police involvement (in escalating or deescalating situations and impact on changing behaviours).
Dynamics in the house were also considered including which other young people were present in the house; whether young people would take direction and leave the area to enable staff to deal with the issues; the impact on other young people particularly if they were feeling scared, threatened or intimidated; the number of young people involved; and the level of disruption already in the house etc.
And staffing was a further factor in consideration such as who is on shift; staff absences; sessional or permanent staff; and ratio of staff to young people.
Wider organisational context; strategic context
Range of dilemmas and tensions -Reality of RCC-want make normal and acutely aware of responsibilities as corporate parents both to children now and for their future but differences of living and working in a residential unit with a number of young people, with a variety of needs, experiences, and ages compared with the family home; only so much staff can do often with learnt behaviour or coping strategies -Desire not to criminalise, adverse impacts for future but staff roles and responsibilities in keeping yp safe and learning right from wrong, accountability and responsibility which is also important for future-Accept role of CHS in protecting yp but concern about issues for yp when protection removed and offences dealt with CJS. Challenging and emotive area. -Rights-YP rights and responsibilities; staff rights overridden-felt right to contact police but at times managers advise not to or higher managers not want -care and control-huge amounts care, compassion and empathy; understanding of yp development, experiences, ad offending as reflection of need but need to fulfil responsibilities and make “hard choices” could have significant personal impact.
We also found a range of factors that could support good quality, robust, consistent, considered and confident decision making, towards the aim of ensuring police contact is avoided unless absolutely necessary, with this learning having evolved throughout the next steps project and to which we will return to later.
Our intention had been 2016 research would be a pilot study that would lead to a national piece of research but having presented these findings and listened to the looked after children/YJ workforce, it was determined that support to implement these findings in practice and embed this learning would have greater impact on improving outcomes for children. Hence the Next Steps project was born-as Fiona said project has been partnership with STAF to bring together of the two organisations complementary knowledge, understanding and skills; contacts within the youth justice and looked after children/care leaver sector; and respective abilities to influence these agendas. These were initial aims of project, which have broadly remained. Focused on 3 interrelated activities each of which will be introduced and the learning gained summarised.
1) First area of activity-Programme for local improvement to provide an understanding of, and influence, staff practice; first areas of focus as while the project has aims and objectives spanning both the local and national level, the two are inherently linked with all local practice being situated within, and influenced by, the national context as well as local practice helping to identify what within the national context, could support improvements to practice and outcomes for looked after children-the decision was made to initially focus on developing an understanding of, and influencing, local practice. Summarised in 2018 report 4 CH 2 LA and 1 third sector-hear from Aberlour later; 100 practitioners in total Adopted an improvement methodology approach which involves identifying why something needs to be improved and establishing a way of gaining feedback (or measuring) the outcome of that change to identify if this leads to improvement. Having done so, change believed to lead to improvement can be developed and planned, which is then tested on a small scale and learned from in a structured way. If the test indicates such change has been effective and manageable on a small scale, it could be implemented on a broader scale and spread throughout the organisation. The partnerships involved working with the full staff team in each of the houses who formed the working group, responsible for identifying areas for improvement and change, developing a plan to test changes and who would implement change. This was supported in the third sector organisation with the development of a multi-agency governance group of house managers, senior managers within the organisation and local authority within which the houses were situated, advocacy services, and police, who had an important role in overseeing the project and providing support to implement change. In all of the children’s houses sessions were facilitated with the working group. In two of the children’s houses these sessions took place usually monthly and enabled reflection on, and analysis of, individual incidents of responding to offending behaviour that staff felt had concluded positively or incidents they felt could have been handled differently and wider factors that could have impacted on decision making. From these sessions, we were able to identify factors that could help or hinder staff practice in responding to the needs of the children in their care and in ensuring police contact was only made when absolutely necessary. The role of the CYCJ facilitators was one of being supporters and enablers, as opposed to leaders on this journey, who would capture, document and share learning from this process. Different houses reached different stages in the project and it was challenging to secure ongoing participation for various reasons as detailed more fully on the 2018 report
2) But we couldn’t just focus on local practice and we knew a wider range of national partners needed to be involved if we were to address the issues involved. Discussions with, and the provision of support to, national organisations to consider and reflect on their role in supporting more appropriate responses to looked after children and to offending behaviour and as necessary change practice. This has involved a combination of MA and individual inputs, direct discussions and presentations, and ongoing practice support to over 30 organisations. This formally commenced with a roundtable discussion on looked after children and offending in April 2018. Including over 20 key stakeholders from organisations including Social Work Scotland, Community Justice Scotland, COSLA, Police Scotland, the Care Inspectorate, University of Strathclyde, CELCIS, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and Who Cares? Scotland, the event enabled the sharing of the learning from our own work and that of the Howard League and reflection on what was working well in Scotland, what could be improved, and how could this be achieved. Has involved Informing the practice of the Care Inspectorate Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration exploring data they hold on offence referrals for children in residential childcare AND Police Scotland pilot
3) In raising awareness of these issues, encouraging the devotion of attention to them and sharing the learning gained through wider knowledge exchange and practice support we have undertaken various activities-podcasts and webinars; inputs to national events such as the Staf Managers Forum and Scottish Institute of Residential Care Child Conference, local multi-disciplinary events, tailored roadshows, and lectures; and using the research to support legislation and policy change, via formal reviews, consultation responses and in international work for example on the age of criminal responsibility, disclosure of criminal records, the Independent Care Review and Kilbrandon Again. Moreover, contact has also been made with the head of residential childcare services in each local authority area to share this learning and to offer assistance and support to practitioners continues to be provided either in respect of specific young people, houses or areas. Direct contact with over 600 care experienced young people and practitioners and managers across residential childcare, police, social work, third sector organisations, secure care and education. Hard to measure indirect reach. Impacts included: working groups to take forward actions to support practice improvement which had been identified at multi-agency roadshows facilitated by CYCJ; Blogs with CEYP; national and international reach
So what have we learnt can help to reduce unnecessary police contact?
Unsurprising in our work and more widely, relationships have been accredited priority on various levels-with young people and between carers, police, social work, and within organisations.
YP and staff: Relationships between staff and young people and the importance of relationship-based care in preventing and diffusing situations. Required able to reflect and to be able to identify when they are not the best people to intervene. Aligned with this was the importance of knowing the young people you were working with so that staff knew triggers for behaviours, could spot behaviours starting before these escalated, and what approaches worked best in managing behaviours for these young people, which could involve trial and error. Have however heard from yp Respond to the behaviour, not what is underpinning this; Police contact for anti-social behaviour rather than offending; Threat of police contact; Impact on relationships; Consistency
Police and staff-Often gatekeepers to justice system. Critically important as means of breaking down barriers; highlighting issues and collectively addressing them, as well as where practice is working well; share information; planning; preventing crisis arising; gaining advice. In our work these have often been found to be positive, although consistency and capacity has been a major theme, with a range of formal and informal methods having been highlighted as a means of supporting the development and sustaining of such relationships. Where Single point of contact within police have been developed or maintained these were deemed supportive in the to support development/maintanence of relationships, opportunities for the police to highlight issues, provide training, advise on behaviour management and recommend protocols and systems around the use of the police. Current work recommend that efforts should be made to enhance communication and informal contact between house staff and police officers.
Police and YP: In doing so significant discussions about have been evident about how barriers between the police and young people can be built and in recognition that young people often hold negative attitudes, lacked respect and did not trust the police and to improve relations, BUT it is important that unintended consequences of such contact, including drawing young people into further contact with the justice system, labelling and stigmatising (thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophecy), and normalising police interactions that would not occur in non-care settings are considered (McAra & McVie, 2010; The Howard League, 2017). It is acknowledged there is a complex balance between avoiding these risks and improving relationships between the police and children, with the Howard League (2017) concluding that the best outcome is for a child living in a children’s home is not to have any contact with the police at all.
A relationship-based, partnership approach to managing behaviour should also be adopted. The young person’s family and lead professional should be informed of incidents of challenging behaviour and be involved in discussions about how they were managed, and how to use the learning from the incident to shape future practice. Social work, who usually retain the role of lead professional for children in residential child care, is also important given their responsibilities for planning, making decisions, encouraging partnership working and sharing and receiving information (CYCJ, 2017). Residential workers have reported it is important to be and feel included and listened to as part of the team around the child (Nolan and Moodie, 2018).
Our work would also suggest that there may be some partners with whom further efforts may be needed to secure their full engagement in working with looked after children involved in offending namely education and health, and in particular mental health services.
Whichever relationships we are talking about it is critical that we listen to children and enable them to put their perspective across-often feel unfairly treated, powerless, and angry which can lead to further unnecessary criminalisation.
“Multi-agency working is essential to put in place the structures and support needed to address factors leading to the criminalisation of children in RCC” (Howard League).
Critical in this is developing individual organisational and shared understanding across agencies, what we have found is often missing, about: The needs and experiences of looked after children; the impact of these experiences on young people, including their behaviours and communication The purpose of the care system; what individual placement providers are trying to achieve; and what is my own organisations role and responsibility in respect of LAC-need to understand our response can either make the situation and ultimately outcomes for children better or worse. The impacts of criminalising children, as outlined earlier but also regarding the complex system of disclosure-we have found various misconceptions still exist including re: records being wiped at 16 and regarding the status of offence grounds being accepted or established via the CHS. If practitioners do not understand this, how can we support young people to?
Clarifying expectations of what partners can do and are trying to achieve. Much complexity and confusion came from asking people for things they could not provide e.g. police surprise when contacted and charged so reflection on what it is that police can bring to an incident that differs from what can be provided by residential staff, and within that, the limitations of the police role would be useful. Important each agency understands own role and responsibility which can be shared with others. Also critical that young people have clear expectations and understanding processes for police contact; inclusion of young people in such decisions and that RCC staff have agreed and clear boundaries, structures and routines, including clear expectations of responses to certain offences.
Strategies that can support such an approach include joint training; sharing of information and knowledge from each other’s areas of expertise; ongoing communication; and opportunities to come together in multi-agency forums formally and informally.
In both our research and that by the Howard League with police, the prescience of policies or protocols that are intended to guide staff practice in respect of responding to offending behaviour (and in respect of police contact) and to deal with policing and prosecution of children varied. In our research staff advised these could only ever guide practice and could not replace individualised response or professional judgement. In England and Wales, The national protocol on reducing unnecessary criminalisation of looked-after children and care leavers has been developed, although there is no similar protocol in Scotland. In many areas, local multi-agency policies are agreed or are being developed and at a minimum it is important that multi-agency goals and principles are agreed to inform practice (Nolan and Gibb, 2018).
Such principles may include agreement that police contact is the option of last resort; that no child is unnecessarily criminalised; responses are proportionate, appropriate, non-punitive and responsive not reactionary; that any decision to contact the police is made in a thoughtful and considered manner (e.g what can police bring that I cant; what is likely impact); that efforts are made to understand pain-based behaviour; that efforts will be made to divert children from the formal criminal justice process, for example through early and effective intervention, diversionary and de-escalation measures, and restorative approaches; and that those children who are criminalised are supported through the justice process.
Adverse impact of frustration from repeated call outs; staff not feeling listened to or included in decision-making; hopelessness, anxiety and fear of what could happen to LAC; and trauma vicarious and of responding to incidents without being adequately supported. This effects practice, responses to LAC and the welfare and wellbeing of the workforce.
Caring for our carers and corporate parents must be prioritised if we want residential childcare workers to have effective care both of themselves and the children they are caring for. How do we adequately support our workforce to be resilient? It is also crucial that recognition is given to impact on staff of exposure, and responding, to pain-based behaviour. In supporting staff to manage this, cultures of practice require systems which embed regular opportunity to discuss approaches and reflect on events. Staff meetings. Incident evaluation and debriefing focused on learning and development rather than blame and scapegoating are also essential elements of developing good practice and are a desired cultural response to significant events but it is important debriefing is undertaken in a manner that feels useful and supportive to staff (Moodie and Nolan, 2016). Informal opportunities for discussion and colleague support are helpful but should be available alongside managerial support and formal recognition of the significance of an event. Supervision. Found often these basics are missing.
Culture, ethos and philosophy: Decision making should be situated within a positive, shared, supportive, and respectful organisational culture and ethos. In our research this was about ”normal”; children should be provided with a caring, safe, calm, nurturing, loving and therapeutic environment to achieve their potential; corporate parenting duties fulfilled; police contact option of last resort once exhausted every other avenue; based on understanding of pain-based behaviours; proportionate, appropriate, non-punnative, responsive not reactionary.
Similarly, it is crucial that the organisational culture invests in and prioritises staff induction, training and professional development to enable staff to understand behaviour; provide a range of strategies and a toolbox of resources that can be drawn upon in responding appropriately to behaviour; and promotes self-awareness (Moodie and Nolan, 2016). deescalation skills to bring situation under control rather than escalate and contribute to criminalisation; sensitivity towards vulnerable children; child centred practice. What we actually do, what happens in reality, before during and after significant events such as those involving the police, will either reinforce or undermine any cultures of practice.
we still lack single and multi-agency, locally and nationally collected consistent data. As a result we lack accurate information on the extent to which looked after children are criminalised, how this may vary for example by gender or placement type, offending prior to entering residential care, trends and patterns, outcomes, and areas of good practice or practice issues (Moodie and Nolan, 2016; Nolan, 2018b). The critical need for multi-agency data gathering and monitoring on a local and national basis to inform policy, practice and guidance.
Many of the factors outlined above echo many of the recognised key components of good practice and quality residential child care. We know there are wider systemic barriers that can challenge their implementation in practice- admissions on an unplanned basis; perception of residential child care as an option of “last resort” remains; instability and impermanence arguably inbuilt into the system; blame culture; under resourcing; lack of practitioner support-BUT as will follow changes are afoot which partners to the project will now expand on.
5 minutes each and 5 minutes feedback
5 minutes each and 5 minutes feedback
5 minutes each and 5 minutes feedback
SIRCC Conference 2019 Workshop 2 Responding to offending in residential care: Next Steps Project
Responding to Offending in
Residential Childcare-Learning and
implications for practice from the
Next Steps project
Debbie Nolan (CYCJ) and John Ryan (Aberlour)
4 June 2019
Hello and Welcome
Aims of session
• To highlight learning gained from the Next Steps
• To discuss the practical implementation of these
• Opportunity to reflect on practice in your own
CYCJ Theory of Change
Children & young people flourish
Practice and policy improvements
Advice, peer support,
trying out initiatives,
access & accessibility,
integrating forms of
“…most local authorities ‘do not have regular and systematic
processes for measuring the profile of incidents within residential
units and offending in the community by this group’” (Scottish
“…are more likely to have been reported to police – and therefore
to attract a criminalising state response – than Scotland‘s child
population in general” (Scottish Government, 2018)
SPS Prisoner survey
The Next Steps Project-Aims
• Improving the support available locally to residential staff in decision
• Increasing opportunities for building relationships between police and
residential staff and with young people (and highlighting the potential
unintended consequences of current methods of doing so)
• Increasing the availability of information to professionals and young people
about the youth and criminal justice system
• Improving local and national multi-agency data collection regarding the
numbers of looked after children being criminalised with the aim of
reducing these numbers
The Next Steps Project-Activities
• Improvement methodology to identify areas for
improvement, develop tests of change and
• Discussions with and support to national
• Sharing the learning
• Inform processes and decision making
• Establish common goals
• Reduce unnecessary criminalisation
• Support police contact being the option of last resort
• Proportionate and non-punitive responses
• Understanding behaviour
• Encourage thoughtful and considered police contact
• Encourage use of alternative resolution approaches
• Support through the system
Every Child Deserves the Chance to Flourish
Why do we criminalise children we love?
• Aberlour’s vision is to give every child
the chance to flourish &, through this,
contribute to building a fairer and more
• Our care homes in Scotland
• Our service vision is to provide a loving
home where everyone laughs, learns,
grows into their future, and is treasured
A bit about us
• Children aged 16 and 17 living in children’s
homes are 15 times more likely to be criminalised
than other children of the same age. Instead of
being criminalised, these children need
acceptance, stability, affection, help and support
• What did this mean for us?
• The importance of relationships with Police
Our Damascus Moment
• The flying strawberry.
• The broken door
• Our commitment to building a culture of support:
Speaking to children & rethinking restraint
Some case examples
•What is currently working well in your
•What could be improved?