SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter details the interface between Wakefield's Safeguarding and Family Support Services and the Wakefield Youth Offending Service regarding electronic monitoring, sometimes referred to as tagging.
- Consent for Installation of Electronic Equipment
- Placement Decisions
- Responsible Adult
- Changes of Placement Address
- Violations of Tagging Conditions
Section 131 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 introduces the power to impose electronic monitoring on children and young people 12 to 16 years who are on bail awaiting sentence by the court. Section 132 of the Act amends Section 23 of the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) 1969 to allow electronic monitoring of 12 to 16 year old remanded to local authority accommodation.
Additionally, electronic monitoring, or tagging, as it is known, can constitute a sentence in itself as a requirement of a Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO). Tagging is also used for children and young people granted early release from a Detention and Training Order and other custodial sentences. These provisions have clear implications for children already Looked After by the local authority or who become looked after by virtue of being remanded.
Tagging is provided by electronic monitoring contractors working to Ministry of Justice Standards.
In most cases, the YOS have a duty to undertake an assessment of suitability for 'tagging' and to advise the court accordingly. This should be based on three factors, namely:
- The characteristics of the child/young person;
- The existence of a suitable address for electronic tagging-including consideration about members of the household/establishment and the likely impact upon them;
- The effect on the child's education.
A positive suitability assessment by the Youth Offending Service is one of the statutory criteria to be met before a court can impose electronic monitoring on a bailed or remanded 12 to 16 year old therefore the assessment should be completed before the court makes its decision.
Assessment will need to be completed while the court is in session with just a brief stand-down to allow enquiries to be made. Therefore prompt and effective liaison and decision-making will be vital.
The YOS will contact the allocated social worker for information where the child is known. (If the young person is homeless or likely to be Remanded to Local Authority Care and not known, an urgent referral should be made to Social Care Direct. This will include current/previous Child Protection concerns to indicate tagging unsuitable, any history of absconding or concerns about proposed 'tagging' address. Care Plan details will also be provided.
It is essential to give as much information to the Youth Offending Service as quickly as possible. Verbal information is sufficient, but information given must be recorded on the child's record. The Team Manager will ensure that any information given, if not accurate, is corrected in written correspondence.
In some instances, it may be necessary for the YOS officer to visit a proposed bail/remand address to assess suitability including the impact of electronic monitoring on other members of the household or establishment.
If a child or young person is accommodated in a residential establishment the YOS officer will contact the Unit Manager directly to obtain consent to visit if appropriate.
If a child or young person is Accommodated with foster carers the YOS officer should initially contact the allocated social worker. If the social worker is unavailable contact will be made with the appropriate Team Manager. He/she will then make the initial contact with the foster carers to obtain their permission for the YOS to make their assessment. The YOS officer will clearly explain to foster carers the nature of tagging and implications for others in the household.
In all cases, the YOS must apply professional judgement regarding who should be consulted in the process of assessment. In respect of children already accommodation the minimum consultation network will be:
- The allocated social worker (or his/Team Manager);
- The Unit Manager (or senior member of residential staff on duty);
- The foster carer;
- Supervising social worker (or his/her Team Manager).
When electronic monitoring is being considered in respect of a child subject to Section 20 of 1989 Children Act, the parents must be consulted. This will be undertaken by the allocated social worker who will make immediate contact with the parent and alert the YOS worker to concerns raised. The consent of the householder is required before monitoring equipment is installed in their home but otherwise, the consent of the parent is not required before a decision to tag a child/young person is made although clearly they should be fully involved in the process.
3. Consent for Installation of Electronic Equipment
If a young person is resident or may be subject to placement in a residential home the Unit Manager should be consulted about the impact on other children resident.
Where the placement, or prospective placement is in foster care, the foster carers will have the same right as a parent to consent or not consent to the installation of monitoring equipment in their home. In the event of any disagreement the Team Manager or Service Manager may be contacted.
It should be noted that electronic monitoring can apply to more than one address if each is assessed as suitable.
4. Placement Decisions
Where tagging is a possibility this, and the required assessment process, needs to be taken into account when considering placement of the child or young person.
Normally the Court will notify the contractors of a young person's remand/bail address. The contractor will then visit during the curfew period and calibrate the equipment. In the event of a remand to local authority accommodation where the placement address is not known at the time the remand was made then the allocated social worker should provide the YOS officer with placement details as soon as possible. The YOS officer should then inform the contractor.
Where it is clear that it is not going to be possible to identify a placement on the day of the remand it is likely that the YOS assessment for the Court will be that tagging is not appropriate.
In cases where the local authority propose to place a remanded child or young person back with parents or members of the extended family, YOS staff will be required to undertake similar assessment and consultation as described above (suitability of address, impact on other family or household members, consent of householder etc.).
5. Responsible Adult
For young people under 17 a responsible adult must be present when the tag is applied. In order of preference this will be:
- The young person's parent;
- His/her immediate carer;
- His/her allocated social worker;
- A YOS officer if currently known to the young person.
When carrying out a suitability assessment the YOS is required to consider the effect of tagging on the child's education and if tagged, is responsible for informing the school/education provider.
7. Changes of Placement Address
Stand alone electronically monitored bail conditions or a stand alone YRO with a Curfew requirement would not normally involve supervision by a YOS Officer. When the child or young person is subject to multi requirements of the YRO the YOS has responsibility for monitoring the curfew. If it is considered necessary to change the bail (or curfew) address then the authorisation of the relevant Court must be sought by the child/young person's legal representative acting on his/her behalf.
If a placement changes for a child or young person subject to tagging then the allocated social worker (or his/her Team Manager) should notify the Youth Offending Service immediately. If the change of placement is planned, notification of this due date must be made to the Youth Offending Service before the move takes place.
In such cases the court will require, from the Youth Offending Service, an assessment of suitability of the proposed new address which will be carried out as described above.
In cases where the local authority wishes to change the placement of a child/young person tagged under Section 132 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act (2001), then the Court's authorisation is not required.
However the allocated social worker must advise the child's home area Youth Offending Service who will inform the contractors of the change of address. If a child is moved the new address must also be registered on the Installation Box monitoring the electronic tagging in all cases.
If an unplanned, out of hours change of placement is absolutely unavoidable in respect of a child/young person subject to electronic tagging then the allocated social worker/residential worker should advise Social Care Direct who will inform the contractor of the change of placement. Contact can also be made via the Installation Box to the Contractors.
Failure to inform the contractor would render the child in breach of his/her tagging Conditions.
In the event of an emergency out of hours change of placement the allocated social worker (or his/her Team Manager) should advise the YOS office as soon as possible the next working day in order that a suitability assessment can be carried out on the new address if appropriate.
If, following assessment, the new placement address is considered unsuitable, the YOS officer will advise the relevant Court accordingly after first informing the allocated social worker.
8. Violations of Tagging Conditions
When monitoring equipment is installed and the tag fitted, requirements (including authorised absences and violations) will be carefully explained to the young person and their carer by the contractor.
Many violations will be picked up very quickly by the contractors themselves (e.g. being absent from bail/remand/curfew address outside of designated curfew hours). However, in all cases any perceived violations, should be immediately reported by the carer to the YOS allocated worker (during office hours) or Social Care Direct (SCD) (out of hours).
In the respect of accommodated children in residential establishments the senior member of staff on duty should report the perceived violation.
In cases where the child is accommodated with foster carers, the carer will report the matter directly to the YOS or SCD.
Any perceived violations will then be reported by the YOS (during office hours) or Social Care Direct (out of hours) to the contractor who has responsibility for monitoring the child's compliance. Ensuing action will depend on the level of violation and upon the provision under which the electronic monitoring is provided. (e.g. bail, bail with other conditions, remand etc).
SCD will advise the relevant YOS Office and the allocated social worker as soon as possible the next working day if a suspected tagging violation has been reported to the contractor out of office hours.
In all cases the YOS officer will inform the allocated social worker of outcomes in relation to reported violations.