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Last year nearly 1500 children in England were being detained in a ‘secure setting’. Around £300m a year is spent on these children.  In addition  just over 200 children had been made subject to Deprivation of Liberty Orders (DoLs), for their own safety or the safety of others. The alarming facts about the figures in the report is that a) the former figures do not include those ‘invisible’ children who have been ‘lost’ in the system; and b) the latter figures are likely to be an ‘underestimate.’

It is obviously less than satisfactory that ‘gaps in data’ have resulted in the admitted levels of imprecision, however it is welcome that the report shines a much needed light on ‘the hundreds of children in England who are locked up in institutions across the country’. The institutions under discussion are secure children’s homes, youth justice facilities and mental health institutions.

The Children’s Commissioner makes a number of sensible recommendation to fill the data void, and a recommendation that the Department for Education, the Minister of Justice and the Department for Health should set up a joint working group.

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