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Concerns were raised earlier this year in The Telegraph newspaper that children were being abused by their parents in residential family assessment centres. Families are placed in these centres when there are serious concerns regarding their parenting skills. They are monitored by 24 hour CCTV and the placement helps provide evidence to decide where children should live long-term. The Children’s Commissioner said that a review of the centres was needed. As a result, on 18 October 2019 Ofsted, the children's services watchdog, issued updated guidance on residential childcare settings, including the use of surveillance and CCTV.
The guidance covers children's homes, residential family centres and secure children's homes. The following are specified forms of surveillance and monitoring:
The guidance emphasises that surveillance should not be the default approach to monitoring children's behaviour. It introduces the following changes:
Following the publication of the new guidance, the Children’s Commissioner said:
“This is a welcome clarification and given the specific circumstances of the cases the Telegraph raised with us, it is clear in issuing fresh guidelines on the use of CCTV in these settings the government has taken seriously some of the concerns raised this summer.”
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