Birchen Lane Residential Home, Tiverton

Birchen Lane Residential Home, Tiverton

Admissions halted at children’s home amid “sexual exploitation” fears

No new admissions are being taken at a Devon children’s care home after concerns that young girls were at risk of sexual exploitation outside the home.

The Birchen Lane Residential Home at Tiverton has not closed but currently has no residents.

No details of the exploitation outside the home are available but it is understood that the girls were supplied with alcohol and propositioned by men.

It is thought the police were called in after the girls failed to return to the home at the appropriate time.

The home caters for children aged eight to 18 years of mixed gender, who have emotional and/or behavioural problems which prevent them from living with a family.

Some staff have been transferred to other children’s homes – including Exeter’s Rifford Road Children’s Home, which is currently the subject of an inquiry into inappropriate use of restraints on children.

 Councillor Will Mumford, Devon County Council Cabinet member for Children’s services, said: “Birchen Lane residential care home for children has not been closed, but a decision was taken earlier this year to place an embargo on admissions.

“It follows a decision to review our strategy for children’s homes, a desire to see more placements into fostering provision on the back of the remodelled foster service and also some concerns regarding young people being placed at risk of child sexual exploitation outside of the home in response to intelligence provided to us by partners.

 “The three young people who were placed in the home have now settled at the alternative placements found for them.

“A decision to suspend placements at Birchen Lane was taken following a strategy meeting attended by senior managers and the police.

 “ Staff from Birchen Lane have been redeployed, on a temporary basis, across our children’s services, including Rifford Road Children’s Home.

“We hope to be able to share the findings of the Barnardo’s review and our strategy in the near future. Until then our primary concern is the well being of the children in our care and ensuring the most suitable and supportive placements for them.”

 Last month(aug) Devon County Council admitted that practices at the Rifford Road home had been “unacceptable” and a report from watchdog Ofsted, yet to be published, is expected to describe the services at the facility as inadequate.

The council insisted steps have already been taken to address Ofsted’s concerns and said new management had been brought in from another of the council’s children’s homes, which was rated good by Ofsted.

 Bichen Lane won a glowing report from Ofsted inspectors only 12 months ago.

Exeter Express and Echo 03/09/13

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