Council moves to establish secure home for vulnerable children

Children with complex needs are currently forced to move to homes hundreds of miles away
By Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Hendon Town Hall
Hendon Town Hall

Barnet Council is set to become part of a project to establish a secure children’s home for youngsters with complex needs.

Councillors agreed for the authority to join a pan-London body to develop secure welfare provision in the capital during a meeting of the children, education and safeguarding committee on Thursday.

A report presented to the committee states that children “with particularly complex needs, including those who are at significant risk of causing harm to themselves or others, including risk to life, can be placed in a secure children’s home when no other type of placement would keep them safe”.

It describes the homes as “a locked environment, where [children’s] liberty is restricted, and they are supported through trauma-aware and psychologically informed integrated care, health and educational services”.

Because there are currently no secure homes in London, children are being placed in facilities an average distance of 192 miles away from the capital – and some are even travelling more than 450 miles to facilities in Scotland, the report reveals.

The average cost of a secure welfare placement to local authorities has climbed from £7,000 per week in 2019 to £10,500 per week in 2022, the report states. Although the cost of a new home would be too high for one council to run, it adds that there is “potential for a pan-London approach” involving collaboration between different boroughs.

The proposed new facility would have 24 places and could be based in Barnet. Funding to set up the home would be provided by the government, and each council involved in the scheme would pay £20,000 per year to cover the running costs.

Speaking during the committee meeting, Chris Munday, the council’s executive director of children and young people, described the initiative as “a really positive development for London”, adding: “It is London working together to meet the needs of vulnerable children.”

Under questioning from councillors, Chris assured them the facility would be designed to be like a home environment.

The committee unanimously agreed to join a not-for-profit “pan-London vehicle” to develop and oversee the running of the new facility.

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month. £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else. £84 annual supporters get a print copy by post and a digital copy of each month's before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly 

More Information about donations