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Hillside Secure Children’s home criticised over death

Hillside Secure Children's Home in Neath
Image caption The teenage boy died at Hillside Secure Children’s Home

The Prison and Probation Ombudsman has criticised Wales’ only secure children’s home over the death of a 17-year-old boy.

The teenager, known as Child S, died at Hillside Secure Children’s Home in Neath in February last year.

Elizabeth Moody, the acting ombudsman, said in her annual report that welfare checks on the boy were “ineffective”.

Hillside Secure Children’s Home and Neath Port Talbot Council have been asked to respond.

An inquest is yet to be held into the teenager’s death, but the report said it is possible he died from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.

He had a seizure a month before he died and was supposed to be checked every three minutes.

However, the report says that the checks had not been carried out as often as they should have been.

Staff were supposed to check on him through the observation panel on the door to his room.

“By the time staff had concerns about his welfare and entered, he had been dead for some time,” the report said.

“We found that the wellbeing checks carried out on Child S were ineffective as they failed to identify that he was no longer alive.

“Troublingly, some staff recorded that checks had been carried out when they had not.

“Staff also seemed unclear about the purpose of the checks and how they should be carried out.”

Secure children’s homes are run by local authorities and are intended to hold children from the age of 10, who have either been convicted of serious crimes or placed there by councils for their own safety or the safety of others.

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

There are 22 in the UK, but Hillside is the only one in Wales.

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