HC Deb 28 May 2004 vol 422 c114W
Chris Ruane

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many local authority secure unit beds there were in each of the past 10 years; how many beds are projected to be provided in the next five years; and if he will make a statement. [175467]

Margaret Hodge

Secure children's homes provide accommodation for young people placed for the protection of themselves or others, and for those placed under criminal justice legislation by the Youth Justice Board. The following table provides information on the number of approved places in secure children's homes over the past 10 years.

Officials have been working closely, both with the Youth Justice Board and the Association of Directors of Social Services, to consider the implications for secure children's homes of the Youth Justice Board's decision to use fewer beds in local authority secure units.

We understand that a few secure children's homes will now close, and that a few others may close, on the basis that they will no longer be viable. For this reason, we are at this time unable to project the exact number of beds in secure children's homes over the next five years.

However, officials are looking very closely at the demand, including any unmet need, for welfare placements in order to ensure that there are sufficient beds across the country for children who need to be placed in a secure children's home for welfare reasons.

Our aim is to achieve the best quality service for vulnerable children who, for whatever reason, need a placement in secure accommodation.

Places approved/available to secure accommodation at 31 March
Places approved/available
1994 290
1995 265
1996 275
1997 330
1998 415
1999 435
2000 435
2001 430
2002 425
2003 425
SA1 return