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Children locked away: Britain’s modern bedlam

Children locked away: Britain’s modern bedlam


A new Tortoise investigation into how the country’s most distressed and vulnerable children are being abandoned by the state.

Warning: Before we begin, I just need to warn you this is a hard listen at times. It deals with self-harm and suicide, and you might feel this is not for you. If you are affected at all, please ask for help at Samaritans.org.

Why this story?

There are just 128 secure, Ofsted-regulated care homes in England for children suffering from severe emotional and behavioural difficulties. Social workers must scrabble daily for beds for the highly distressed, often suicidal children in their care. Usually, they can’t find one. 

As a result, scores of children are ending up deprived of their liberty by the family courts, but still with nowhere to go… except for ad-hoc, unregulated placements, with no independent checks on the standard of care they receive. Sometimes children end up locked up for months, physically and chemically restrained. We ask why there isn’t enough capacity in the system, and why these children are being harmed, not helped.