Children are only separated from their peers with the proper authorisation, safely, in line with their individual needs, for appropriate reasons and not as a punishment.

19. Children are only separated from others or removed from their normal location with the proper authorisation and are located for appropriate reasons. Separation is not used as a punishment.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • There is a clear strategy in place for the use of all forms of separation.
  • The use of separation and segregation on normal location and in specialist units is appropriately authorised, monitored by senior staff and analysed for patterns and trends.
  • Health care staff promptly assess all separated and segregated children and contribute to care planning.
  • Segregation and separation is used only as a last resort after other alternatives have been considered. It is used for the shortest time possible.
  • Children at risk of suicide or self-harm are only segregated in clearly documented, exceptional circumstances.
  • Children are not separated as a punishment and the decision to separate them is for justifiable reasons, authorised properly and recorded.
  • Children are given the reasons for their separation in a format and language they understand.
  • Children and their parents, carers or outside workers can make representations to a senior manager before they are separated in specialist units or on normal location.

Cross reference with: equality and diversity; safeguarding of children; security.

20. Children whose behaviour requires them to be temporarily separated from others are located in a suitable environment where their individual needs are fully met.

The following indicators describe evidence that may show this expectation being met, but do not exclude other ways of achieving it.

  • Children temporarily separated from normal location have regular and meaningful contact with staff. They are able to have meals and continue their education and other activities outside their cell, within the restrictions of their temporary environment.
  • Children are never subjected to a regime that amounts to solitary confinement.1
  • Children separated in specialist units or on normal location have a plan which ensures that their time is spent addressing their problematic behaviour. The contents of plans are always properly linked to any other existing plans involving that child.
  • Specialist units are decent, clean and meet the needs of children.
  • Staff are vigilant in detecting signs of decline in emotional and mental well-being.
  • Children have meaningful conversations with a range of staff every day, including the opportunity to speak in confidence with a senior manager, a health care professional and a chaplain.
  • Those who are temporarily removed from mainstream activities can access equivalent activity to their non-segregated peers, including time in the open air.
  • Children have sufficient activities to occupy and stimulate them in their cells.
  • Children relocated to specialist units are not strip-searched unless there is sufficient specific intelligence and proper authorisation.
  • Children are separated for the shortest possible period before being reintegrated to a normal regime.
  • Reviews are held regularly and involve the child and all relevant staff.
  • Parents/carers and relevant professionals, including social workers, youth offending team (YOT) workers and advocates, are engaged where appropriate.
  • Data is used effectively to identify and minimise risks to the safety of children and staff.

Cross reference with: education, skills and work activities; safeguarding of children; health services.

1 The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of prisoners define solitary confinement as confinement ‘for 22 hours or more a day without meaningful human contact’.

Human rights standards

In relation to expectations 19 and 20: As with any restrictions imposed on people already deprived of their liberty, human rights standards require that segregation or separation (or any practice which isolates children) must only be used when absolutely necessary, for the shortest possible time, and be proportionate to the legitimate objective for which they are imposed. Because of the harm that can be caused by segregation and separation, specific and additional safeguards also need to be in place. Children, wherever located, should not be subject to solitary confinement. See CRC 3, 37(a); HR 12, 67; ERJO 93, 95.3; SMR 43–46; ECHR 3; ICCPR 7; CAT 1, 2, 16. See also CRC CO 79(f) and SRT 44, 86(d).

See also standards relating to security.