Older teenagers need more support, say Bedford Borough Council

Cllr James Valentine
Cllr James Valentine

Bedford chiefs want the law changed so that supported accommodation for children and young people is regulated and inspected.

Last night (October 9) Cllr James Valentine introduced a motion calling for changes to regulations on this semi-independent accomodation.

There are currently nearly 40 residential properties in Bedford Borough being used for living placements. The local authorities who place children in Bedford Borough are responsible for those children - but the distance of placements this leaves the young residents vulnerable to 'County Lines' gangs and criminal and sexual exploitation.

Since 2016 Bedford Borough Councillors have become aware of these placements in their wards, usually due to complaints from neighbouring properties about anti-social behaviour.

The Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee, council officers and councillors have raised the issue with the Local Government Association, and contributed to a Newsnight series about the risks of these placements.

Bedford and Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin has asked questions in Parliament and pressed the Minister for action. An All Party Parliamentary Group has now published a report called ‘No Place At Home’, showing this is a nationwide problem.

The Motion to Full Council endorsed the recommendations in the APPG report and called on the government to implement and fully fund the recommendations. Members of all parties spoke in favour of the motion, and it was passed unanimously.

Speaking after the meeting, Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “There are nearly 40 residential properties in Bedford Borough being used for unregulated post-16 semi-independent living placements by other local authorities.

"Whilst the local authorities who place children in Bedford continue to be responsible for those children, we have concerns about the impact this is having on young people in these properties and also residents in neighbouring properties.”