Teenage boy who died at se­cure home was failed by safety checks

Western Mail - - NEWS -

A TEENAGER who was sup­posed to be checked ev­ery three min­utes at Wales’ only se­cure chil­dren’s home wasn’t – and died.

Hill­side Se­cure Chil­dren’s Home in Neath has been crit­i­cised in a re­port by the Prisons and Pro­ba­tion Om­buds­man pub­lished this week.

Neath Port Tal­bot Coun­cil, which man­ages the se­cure chil­dren’s home (SCH), gave con­do­lences to the young per­son’s fam­ily and friends and added that it was un­able to com­ment any fur­ther un­til the in­quest had fin­ished.

SCHs hold young of­fend­ers aged 10-17 as well as those placed there by coun­cils on wel­fare grounds.

In the re­port, which refers to the teenager as “Child S”, it said he died in Fe­bru­ary 2017 from un­known causes, pos­si­bly sud­den ar­rhyth­mic death syn­drome.

It said: “Child S was found dead in his room one morn­ing. He had been taken to hospi­tal the pre­vi­ous month af­ter suf­fer­ing a seizure.

“When he re­turned to the SCH, staff were re­quired to check on him in his room ev­ery three min­utes overnight. This en­tailed look­ing through the ob­ser­va­tion panel on the door to his room.”

In the re­port, it said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion found these checks had not been car­ried out as of­ten as they should have been. When staff had con­cerns about his wel­fare and en­tered his room, he had been dead for some time.

“We found that the well­be­ing checks car­ried out on Child S were in­ef­fec­tive as they failed to iden­tify that he was no longer alive,” the re­port con­tin­ued.

“Trou­blingly, some staff recorded that checks had been car­ried out when they had not. Staff also seemed un­clear about the pur­pose of the checks and how they should be car­ried out.”

The Prisons and Pro­ba­tion Om­buds­man in­ves­ti­gated the deaths of two chil­dren at the SCH in 2017-18 – Child S and Child R, who was the first child to take her life in an SCH in over 20 years.

This was the first time they had in­ves­ti­gated SCH deaths.

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