Movement restriction conditions in the children's hearing system: guidance
Information for social workers who have a statutory responsibility to present information to children’s panel members.
8.0 There is no such thing as a 'breach' of an MRC that results in automatic referral to a Children's Hearing. However as with any compulsory supervision order the implementation authority must notify the Children's Reporter to require a review if a child or young person is not complying with it  . It is anticipated that a Review Hearing would be prioritised by the Children's Reporter in such instances given the potential need for more restrictive measures. Nevertheless it is important that Lead Professionals appreciate this distinction between MRCs and statutory orders such as Community Payback Orders ( CPOs) issued by Courts in the Criminal Justice System which are subject to certain mandatory breach reporting procedures. With MRCs, it may be more useful for Lead Professionals to think of a continuum of compliance along which a young person's behaviour might be assessed and plotted.
8.1 Conveying expectations to the young person and his parent(s)/carer(s) about compliance with an MRC is a key task for the Lead Professional. The manner in which this is done in individual implementation authorities will vary but it may be useful to consider a joint home visit by the Lead Professional and his Line Manager to the young person and his parent(s)/carer(s). Such an approach might help to emphasise the fact that an MRC constitutes a highly restrictive measure which, if unsuccessful owing to the escalation in a young person's risk-taking behaviour, may lead to more restrictive action such as recourse to secure accommodation. However the European rules make it clear that for young people, non-compliance with "the conditions or obligations of the community sanctions or measures imposed on them…shall not lead automatically to deprivation of liberty"  . Additionally implementation authorities might produce young person-friendly leaflets or documentation which outline in simple, accessible language what MRCs encompass.
8.2 Information will be provided directly to the Lead Professional by the Monitoring Service Provider in relation to any instances when a young person has failed to comply with the terms of the EM arrangements in place. It is important that each individual instance of non-compliance is analysed by the Lead Professional and that he records what steps, if any, he intends to take in response. Some instances of non-compliance will be more concerning than others as outlined by the examples below based on a young person subject to a curfew at his home address between the hours of 10pm - 7am:
- Ill Health: The young person is admitted to hospital in the early hours of the morning with unexpected appendicitis. He is discharged the following day after assessment.
- Bereavement: The funeral of a close family member of a young person who resides several hundred miles from the young person's home is taking place. He travels to the funeral with his family but arrives home after midnight.
- Employment: A young person is employed in a local hotel. He is required to work a "back shift" at short notice and does not wish to upset his employer by refusing the opportunity. He returns home after midnight.
- Patterns of behaviour: Although his behaviour has improved and become more predictable, a young person subject to an MRC consistently arrives home up to an hour after his curfew has commenced.
- Anti-social actions: A young person spends the weekend in the community at the homes of various friends and associates. He ignores the restrictions in place and comes into contact with the Police on account of his alleged involvement in offending behaviour.
The manner in which the Lead Professional chooses to deal with each of these instances of non-compliance will vary but the key mediating factor to consider will be whether the young person's actions increased the risk of his being involved in further offending and/or harmful behaviour. Identifying trends and patterns will also be important. If as a result of an MRC a young person's previously chaotic behaviour stabilises without necessarily being fully compliant, the Lead Professional may deem this to be satisfactory progress. Finally, if a young person is involved in further offending behaviour of a serious nature during the period when he is subject to an MRC it will fall to the implementation authority along with other partners to the Child's Plan to take appropriate action.
8.3 The Lead Professional ought to liaise with the Police to alert them to the fact that a young person has been made subject to an MRC and to clarify the manner in which compliance and non-compliance varies in comparison with EM when used with adult offenders. It is important to note that being subject to an MRC does not result in the Police having any additional powers of arrest in the event of non-compliance.
8.4 The Lead Professional should encourage the young person and his parent(s)/carer(s) to be pro-active in highlighting any potential compliance difficulties and to take advantage of the various means at their disposal to communicate concerns. In particular, the monitoring equipment installed in properties by the Monitoring Service Provider includes a telephone which connects directly to their contact centre enabling information to be shared at any time in relation to either compliance difficulties or technical faults. In addition the value of early liaison directly with the Lead Professional or any Out of Hours Duty Service should be highlighted.
8.5 In the event of a young person subject to an MRC failing to return to his address and whose absence is a cause for concern, it is the responsibility of the young person's parent(s)/carer(s) to take appropriate action. The parent(s)/carer(s) should agree a clear process, recorded in the Child's Plan, according to which they will contact and notify a range of individuals (culminating in the Police if necessary) should the young person fail to return home. "Missing Person" status can then be conferred on the young person if necessary. However the Lead Professional as the representative of the implementation authority also holds responsibilities as a Corporate Parent and should liaise with the Police if parent(s)/carer(s) are uncooperative, ineffectual or are not involved. Attention must also be paid to any safety or contingency plans which ought to be triggered in the event of a young person's non-compliance with curfew arrangements.
8.6 For the purposes of any Review Children's Hearing in relation to a young person subject to an MRC, it would be useful for the Lead Professional to encompass in his report specific information relating to instances of non-compliance in order that Panel Members might take a view as to whether these instances of non-compliance require action.
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