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Teenager died in secure children’s home

Secure unit

A teenage girl killed herself after being placed in a secure children’s home in February 2017, it has been revealed, the first such death in more than 20 years.

The 17-year-old was found hanged, according to the Prison and Probation Ombudsman’s annual report.

Elizabeth Moody, the acting ombudsman, said there were “deficiencies” in the way the child had been managed.

Ms Moody said wellbeing checks on the teenager had been “ineffective”.

The same month, in an unrelated incident, a 17-year-old boy died in another secure children’s home after previously suffering a seizure.

Secure children’s homes are run by local authorities and are intended to hold children from the age of 10, who have been convicted of serious crimes, as well as those placed there by councils for their welfare.

They are operated differently from secure training centres and young offender institutions, which hold slightly older children.

The girl who died was in a secure home in the north of England after being placed there by a local authority.

The boy, who had been convicted of an offence, had been detained in a secure home in Wales.

Inquests for the two children are yet to be held.

The ombudsman also commented on the widespread availability in prisons of former legal highs, such as Spice, which are known as psychoactive substances (PS).

She said: “The destructive epidemic of PS use has become the ‘new normal’ in prison,” adding that jails were “struggling with the consequences of bad batches of PS”.

Her report revealed PS was also increasingly being used by released prisoners and offenders living in bail hostels, which are known as approved premises.

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