30th January 2018
A significant increase in violent crime associated with drug gangs who groom young children has been reported by more than two thirds of police forces.
According to a survey of police forces by Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport, the extreme violence includes murders, rapes, stabbings, kidnappings, a hand severed off with a machete, legs broken and use of boiling water, knives, bats and hammers.
Ms Coffey, who is the chair of the All Party Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, wrote to all 45 police forces in Great Britain asking specifically if violence linked to so-called ‘County Lines’ had increased.
All 45 responded and of those 80% (36 police forces) stated that levels of violence linked to County Lines had increased recently. Others talked more generally about ‘high levels of violence”.
PRESS RELEASE FROM ANN COFFEY MP
The children’s homes market is a ‘continuing catastrophic failure’ for some young people with increasing numbers still being forced to live miles away.
Leading a debate in the Commons on Children’s Homes this afternoon, Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport, said that a third of children in children’s homes are still being sent to live more than 20 miles away from home and that the figures have actually gone up despite efforts to reduce them.
She highlighted the picture in Greater Manchester and said that in Rochdale 71 per cent of children living in children’s homes come from outside the borough and in Stockport the figure is 63 per cent.*
She said the children’s home’s market was ‘chaotic’ for some children and was run in the interests of providers – including private equity and venture capital companies – not in the interests of vulnerable children.
The high number of out of area placements was caused by the unequal distribution of children’s homes thorough the country with all the homes concentrated in a few areas, she added.
For example, the North West has 25 per cent of all children’s homes in England but only 15% of the children’s homes population. London has only 6 per cent of children’s homes but 17 per cent of the children’s homes population.
There are some authorities in England that have no children’s homes at all and all their children are placed outside the borough.
Ms Coffey first raised the issue in a Commons debate in 1995.
She said: “Twenty one years later I am still expressing concern. It is staggering that despite successive governments calling for a clampdown on distant placements the latest figures reveal that the number of children being sent away is actually increasing.”
The Children’s Homes 2014 data pack shows that in 2013, 31% of children in children’s homes nationally are placed 20 miles or more from their home area, an increase of 2% from 2011. And 35% of new placements for 2014 were distant placements.
She added: “The present situation in the continuing unequal distribution of children’s homes demonstrates a continuing catastrophic failure of the care market for some children. It seems to be working for the providers but not the children.”
“Until we sort out the unequal distribution, we will never be able to solve the problem of vulnerable children being placed miles away from home and all the horrendous problems and risks that flow from that. “
Children who live out of borough tend to feel dumped, abandoned and go missing more often. The cost of missing children to police in Greater Manchester is estimated to cost up to £30.9 million per year.
Mrs Coffey said: “It is ludicrous that we have an oversupply of children homes in some areas which don’t guarantee a place for local children whilst children from areas many miles away, which have few children’s homes, are placed in Greater Manchester.
“This is a chaotic market with sometimes long lasting consequences for the children.”
Ms Coffey said that she hoped that Sir Martin Narey’s forthcoming review of children’s homes will recognise that reducing distant placements should be at the heart of reforms to the Children’s Homes market and therefore that action is needed to tackle the unequal geographical distribution of Children’s Homes.
She also called on the 10 local Manchester boroughs to use Devo-Manc to work together and to form a consortium to address how they can best look after children in children’s homes through the conurbation.
NB Editors – Speech to be delivered at 2.30 today in Westminster Hall.
A full transcript of Ms Coffey’s speech can be seen here – http://anncoffeymp.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Westminster-Hall-Childrens-Homes-debate-19th-April-2016.pdf
For further information contact Joy Copley 07786 357145
DEMENTIA RED TAPE MUST BE EASED NOW – MP
PRESS RELEASE – 22.3.2016
Ann Coffey MP has put forward proposals to ease the financial burden on councils who are engulfed by red tape involving dementia sufferers.
Ms Coffey said that Deprivation of Liberty safeguard assessments have turned into an ‘expensive bureaucratic nightmare’ for councils.
Stockport Council alone will spend £1.2 million this year on assessments to ensure dementia sufferers who live in care homes are not being inappropriately restrained.
Ms Coffey suggested in the Commons today that it would help councils save some money immediately if the government scrapped the need to reassess DoLS on every person every single year and to make a reassessment every time an elderly person leaves a care home to go into hospital.
Her suggestions were received positively by Alistair Burt, the Health Minister, who said he was prepared to “look at any suggestions she has to ease the situation practically.”
Nationally local authorities have seen DoLS caseloads rise more than tenfold in the year after a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2014 triggered a surge in referrals.
The Supreme Court judgement effectively lowered the threshold for what constitutes deprivation of liberty in care and significantly increased the number of people requiring assessment for protection under the DoLs scheme.
Ms Coffey has been leading a campaign to scrap the costly DoLS system and the Law Commission is currently reviewing how to tackle the problem.
But Ms Coffey said that any proposals from the Law Commission would take two years to implement and urged the minister to do something now to ease the situation in the meantime.
She said at Commons Health question time:
“It is costing Stockport Council £1.2 million this year for Deprivation of Liberty assessments as a result of the Cheshire West judgement.
Not one single penny of that is providing social care.
“This is unsustainable at a time when social care budgets are under intense pressure. Something needs to be done now. We cannot wait for the Law Commission.
“As a small step forward – would the minster consider scrapping costly automatic annual reassessments and the necessity to reassess every time an elderly person leaves a care home to go into hospital?”
Mr Burt said: “I will happily look at anything that might assist us. I will look at any suggestions she has to ease the situation practically”.