Ann Coffey

Category Archives: Press Releases


Newsnight: Children trapped in dangerous ‘twilight’ world

I was interviewed for Newsnights special report on children who are placed in unregistered children’s homes.  They found that 5,000 children are living in pop-up children’s homes across England.  The full report can be watched on BBC iPlayer until 20th May 2019 here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0005bsc/newsnight-20052019

More information below.

Sixteen year old children are being dumped in a shady ‘twilight world’ of unregistered homes making them a magnet for paedophiles and drugs gangs, according to a survey of police forces.

Deep concerns about unregistered semi-independent homes for children aged 16 plus have been highlighted in the survey conducted by Ann Coffey MP, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Missing Children and Adults.

These 16 plus establishments are off the radar, unregistered and not subject to any inspections, unlike children’s homes for under 16s which are properly registered and inspected by Ofsted.

The All Party Parliamentary Inquiry for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, is currently conducting a Parliamentary inquiry into the risks faced by the record numbers of children who go missing after being sent to live in children’s homes miles away from where they were born and brought up.

As part of the inquiry Ms Coffey wrote to all 43 police chief constables to ask for their observations about the risks faced by young people who go missing from out of area placements.

It was striking that the majority of police forces flagged up strong concerns about the increasing problem of children aged 16 plus being placed out of borough in unregistered semi-independent homes.

Amongst the police concerns highlighted about the shady 16 plus accommodation:

  • No registration
  • No inspection – “an inspection and sanction void for poorly performing providers”
  • High proportion of children repeatedly runaway. They are the ‘hidden missings’
  • Children targeted by those wishing to exploit them for sex or to run drugs. “These premises are often well known to local criminals and are seen as an easy target location for recruitment of new children”.
  • Poorly managed homes in cheap locations
  • ‘Pop up’ children’s homes for 16 plus emerging in areas of high deprivation because there is no regulation and housing is much cheaper, heightening the risk of the most vulnerable children of being exploited.
  • Poor untrained staff fighting hand to hand with a young resident in the street
  • No full time staff on site
  • Situated in risky areas putting young people into close proximity to sexual exploitation and criminal exploitation risks, with easy access to illegal drugs
  • Girls targeted and groomed and trafficked to other areas
  • One girl went missing and was imprisoned by a gang
  • A child who had been sexually exploited housed alongside a perpetrator of CSE
  • One young person stabbed another after social services knowing placed two opposing gang members in the same unregistered home
  • Providers often house adults who may be criminals themselves

Parliamentary inquiry into the scandal of ‘sent away’ children

26th March 2019

MPs will today launch a Parliamentary inquiry into the record numbers of children who go missing after being ‘farmed out’ to live in children’s homes miles away.

 

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults is concerned that there is growing evidence that a ‘sent away generation’ of vulnerable youngsters are in danger of falling prey to paedophiles and drugs gangs.

 

One thousand more individual children in out of area placements have gone missing from children’s homes since 2015, according to new Department for Education figures released today by Ann Coffey MP, who will chair the inquiry.

 

This has more than doubled from 990 in 2015 to 1,990 in 2018 and compares to a 31 per cent increase for children who go missing from children’s homes within their own borough.

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Major review into how rape cases are handled

I am delighted that the Government has announced a root and branch review into how the criminal justice system handles rape cases.

This is something I have been campaigning for. There is an ‘explosive cocktail’ of shockingly low charging and conviction rates at a time when record numbers of women – over 40,000 a year – are reporting rape.

The review is long overdue. We must not allow the clocks to be turned back to a situation where rape victims are frightened to speak out because they fear they will not get justice.

It is vital that the review thinks ‘outside the box’ and examines whether the jury system is the best way to deliver justice in rape cases because of the dominance of ‘rape myths’ in society, such as girls who drink or wear short skirts are ‘asking for it’.

This week I also released Freedom on Information figures which show that the number of rape cases charged by the Crown Prosecution Service has plummeted again and is getting worse each year. According to the statistics, there was a 24.6 per cent drop in charging rates from 61.9 per cent in 2013/2014 to 37.3 per cent by September 2018.

These new figures show once again that the justice system is not working for rape victims as fewer and fewer men accused of rape are being charged.

The obvious conclusion is that it appears that because juries are reluctant to find young men guilty of rape that the CPS are scared and reluctant to prosecute and the police are scared and reluctant to refer cases forward to the CPS.

The loser is the rape victim. They feel they have been denied access to justice.

 

See more in the Guardian here – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/06/prosecution-rate-in-england-and-wales-falls-to-five-year-low?fbclid=IwAR2v_Q4oyTtay5NeUe0WNd5ZjYNJA6DKl833xkeF5Rl9xEAiHrsreBkg0zs