New Hampshire PCC Commits To Protecting Vulnerable Children

Hampshire's new Police and Crime Commissioner tells Heart he wants to listen and respond to people in the county.

Michael Lane's starting in the job today after winning last week's election. He says his main challenges will be funding cuts and the changing technology used by criminals.

The former Royal Navy Commodore's first act in the job has been committing, with local councils, to doing more to prevent children in care from offending. 

You can listen to our full interview with Michael Lane here:

The signatories, of the agreement to provide better support to vulnerable children, include the Crown Prosecution Service, Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire County Council, Isle of Wight Council, Southampton City Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner, and Hampshire Constabulary.

The fourteen page memorandum of understanding aims to minimise factors that lead to offending by Looked After Children. As outlined in the new protocol this "will only be achieved through improved joint working between all agencies and local authorities across the whole region".

Looked After Children include those in foster care and children's homes. Despite the efforts of all agencies, they continue to be significantly over-represented in the youth justice system and prison system compared with their peers.

The agreement identifies two significant areas of challenge:

1) Recognising and minimising pre-existing risk factors that place Looked After Children at greater risk of offending
2) Protecting Looked After Children from a disproportionate response from the criminal justice system where their behaviour may have deep rooted causes

The memorandum of understanding is in line with a wider South-east protocol that provides an overarching agreement ensuring that any Looked After Child is afforded the same protection and consideration wherever in the south-east they may live.

Councillor Keith Mans, Executive Lead Member for Children's Services at Hampshire County Council, said: 

"We welcome the introduction of this protocol which will help to ensure that children in care get a fair chance of maximising their opportunities in life. We look forward to working with Hampshire Constabulary on the implementation of this protocol."

Kim Drake, Service Director of Children & Families Services for Southampton City Council said: 

'We are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for the children in our care. This protocol will support our work with the police and other partners so that we can reduce the likelihood of looked after children offending and improve their life chances'.

Kate Brown, Chief Crown Prosecutor, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Wessex, said: 

"The decision to prosecute looked after children for low level offences committed within a children's home is a serious one. It can have far reaching long term consequences. A criminal justice disposal, whether a prosecution, or non-charge disposal should not be regarded as an automatic response to offending behaviour by a Looked After Child but rather we should work with partner agencies to secure a just and proportionate response. We are pleased to be working in this way with our partners to build public confidence."

Michael Lane, Police and Crime Commissioner, said: 

"I am delighted that one of my first actions as Commissioner is to do something for children, particularly those at risk where we have potential to improve their life opportunities. This protocol formalises a strong partnership of services and agencies, and highlights another of my key objectives to create partnerships that maximise the value of our joint endeavours. I look forward to building upon the work around the region."

Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary, and national policing lead for Children and Young People, Olivia Pinkney said: 

"Looked After Children are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. This agreement will help improve the support they need, not just from one local authority or agency but from all of the partners working together."

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