Coram responds to the Children’s Commissioner’s report on ‘children locked up by the state’

  • 16 May 2019

The report gathers data about children living in secure children’s homes, youth justice settings, mental health wards and other residential placements, either for their own safety or the safety of others, and it seeks to identify whether these institutions are meeting their complex needs and whether different decisions could have been taken to prevent them from being locked away.

In addition, the report finds that more than 200 children who are locked away are ‘invisible’ in the system as they do not fit any of the categories for which there is published data.

Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent, Deputy CEO of Coram said:

Today’s report reveals an alarming safeguarding failure. It is unacceptable that over 200 children have been essentially “lost in the system” and placed in settings about which we have no information. We have no idea how long these children have spent in these institutions and no idea as to whether they are receiving interventions that best respond to their needs.


Coram supports the Children’s Commissioner’s call for local authorities to provide data on the number of children deprived of liberty in their area at any one time, the legal basis for that deprivation of liberty, and where those children are living. In order to do so, local authorities need to take urgent steps to gain a clearer picture of each child’s history within the system. Coram’s work to develop a data visualisation prototype, in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute and Kent County Council, shows how twenty-first century data analysis techniques can be used to present a 3D picture of children’s pathways when they come into contact with social services.


The tool has the potential to keep track of how long children have been in the system and the interventions that have been made to date, providing insights on whether different decisions could have been taken to prevent these children being locked away. Only when we are armed with the right information will we be able to safeguard our most vulnerable children.”


Read the Children’s Commissioner’s report