Thousands of teenagers in care are being “dumped” in unregulated homes and “abandoned to organised crime gangs”, the BBC has been told.
The number of looked-after children aged 16 and over living in unregistered accommodation in England has increased 70% in a decade, Newsnight has found.
Police forces have raised concerns, saying criminals see the premises as an easy target for recruitment.
As part of a special series of reports, Britain’s Hidden Children’s Homes, Newsnight has learned that – according to figures from the Department for Education – around 5,000 looked after children in England are living in so-called 16+ supported or semi-supported accommodation – up from 2,900 10 years ago.
This type of accommodation is not inspected or registered by Ofsted, even though residents are in the care of the state.
But because they are deemed to be receiving support, rather than care, the accommodation is not subject to the same checks and inspections as registered children’s homes.
Local authorities can pay to place children in unregistered accommodation if they deem it is in a child’s best interests. This can often be simply a house on a residential street, with staff on site or visiting for as little as a few hours a week.
Amy – now 19 – was moved to one of these homes in Bedfordshire, when she was 16 years old.
“There was a mattress but no bed sheets, it was freezing cold and I had to use my coat and blanket as a duvet. It made me feel sort of desperate and very alone.”
Amy – not her real name – said there were times she was frightened living in the home.
“We’d just get random men off the internet and then sometimes they would come and pick us up at the home and they’d take us places. A lot of them were just strange men who just wanted younger girls and they were very, very dangerous,” she said.
Read the full article Teens in care ‘abandoned to crime gangs’
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