Research and data indicates that that looked after children enter custody at a higher rate than other children. The most recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons identified that 24% of 15-18 year olds were looked after before entering custody. Where a child has been looked after prior to entry to custody, the local authority has varying duties depending on the child’s legal status.

Section 15 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 inserted a new section 23ZA into the 1989 Act, imposing a duty on the local authority to visit children who cease to be looked after as a result of being remanded or sentenced to custody and are not eligible for leaving care support.

This document provides guidance, primarily addressed to local authorities and their staff in England, about their functions under Part 3 of the Children Act 1989. It is issued as guidance under section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 which requires local authorities, in exercising their social services functions, to act under the general guidance of the Secretary of State. This guidance should be complied with by local authorities when exercising these functions, unless local circumstances indicate exceptional reasons that justify a variation.

This guidance applies to children who lose their looked after status on entering custody. This means children who were either looked after under section 20 of the 1989 Act prior to being remanded or sentenced to custody or those who were looked after by virtue of having been remanded to local authority care under section 23(1) of the Children and Young Person’s Act 1969 on being sentenced.

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  • Preface
  • Background
  • Introduction
  • Notification and visiting
  • Timing of visits
  • Assessment and planning process
  • Decision making
  • Children serving long sentences
  • Action to be taken if there are concerns about the child’s safety or welfare
  • Planning for release
  • Support in the community