The establishment provides a safe and secure environment which reduces the risk of self-harm and suicide. Children at risk of self-harm or suicide are identified at an early stage and given the necessary support. All staff are aware of and alert to vulnerability issues, are appropriately trained and have access to proper equipment and support.

6. Children at risk of self-harm or suicide receive personal and consistent care and support to address their individual needs and have unhindered access to help.

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

  • Incidents of self-harm reduce over time.
  • Planning is in place, with input from the child, which identifies risk and meets needs. A consistent key worker is responsible for each child.
  • A consistent senior manager oversees care and planning to ensure continuity of care for each child.
  • Children subject to such care planning are engaged by staff and have access to education and activities.
  • Personal factors or significant events which may trigger self-harm are identified and included in the child’s care plan.
  • Personal possessions are only removed in well documented, exceptional circumstances. They are returned to the child as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Where appropriate, family, friends or the local authority for looked-after children are informed of care planning and invited to contribute to the child’s care.
  • Children are supported to express any thoughts of suicide and/or self-harm and are given the opportunity and assistance to contribute to reviews of their care, identifying their own support needs.
  • All incidents of self-harm or attempts to self-harm are referred to the safeguarding lead and parents/carers are informed.
  • All staff, including night staff, are appropriately trained in suicide prevention and understand what to do in an emergency. Refresher training takes place regularly.
  • Children are never placed in strip clothing or monitored remotely as an alternative to engagement with and constant observation by staff.
  • Constant observation affords privacy and decency for the child. When it is in the child’s best interests, parents and carers are given additional opportunities to visit children who are subject to constant observation.
  • Arrangements are in place for following up after a care and support plan has been closed.
  • All information about children at risk of self-harm or suicide and nearing release is communicated to relevant people who can offer support in the community.
  • Serious incidents are thoroughly and properly investigated to establish what lessons can be learnt to improve the care and protection given to children.
  • An action plan is devised and acted on promptly as a result of an investigation into an apparent self-inflicted death. This is reviewed following the subsequent findings of an inquest, a Prisons and Probation Ombudsman investigation and a local authority review.

Cross reference with: residential services; early days in custody; children, families and contact with the outside world; relationships between staff and children; safeguarding of children; health services; training planning and remand management.

Human rights standards

In relation to expectation 6: Human rights standards require children’s right to life to be protected and promoted, and children to be treated with respect for their dignity and human rights. Standards require children to be provided with sufficient mental health care and staff to pay special attention to the prevention of self-harm, including recognising risk. Staff should have sufficient training, and communicate and cooperate effectively, to provide care. See CRC 3, 6; ECHR 2; ICCPR 6, 10; HR 1, 12, 49, 51, 52, 56, 81, 84, 85; ERJO 1, 8, 51, 70, 71, 129; SMR 1, 2, 30, 31, 33; EPR 1, 18.10, 25.4, 39, 42.3, 43.1, 47.2, 52.2, 52.4, 87.1. See also standards in relation to health services – mental health.