Searching Children/Bedrooms

REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS

The Quality and Purpose of Care Standard
Regulation 6

OTHER RELEVANT CHAPTER

Sleeping in and Night Security Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in October 2015.



Contents

  1. Searching
  2. Notifications and Management Review
  3. Recording


1. Searching

It may be appropriate to conduct a search of a child or a child's belongings, including the searching of a child's bedroom, if there is reasonable cause to believe that the child has concealed weapons, illegal drugs other items, which may place the child or others at risk of injury or harm.

As part of the admission procedure all children living in Childhood First centres are informed of:

  • Items which are not permitted anywhere in the communities (for their own or others' safety). These include weapons, illicit drugs, pornographic material, any age 18 related films videos or computer games, alcohol and any items which the child uses to harm themselves or others;
  • Items which are not permitted to be kept in bedrooms subject to risk assessment:

    Aerosols; medication; solvents; razors;  sharp implements  including tools and craft knives; food; computer games and videos beyond the age restriction of the child. Matches or lighters;

    Children are informed of where these items can be kept securely (e.g. individual lockers in the staff room, locked cupboard in the medical room etc.). They are advised how, and under what conditions these items can be accessed.

1.1 Searches with Co-operation

If there is a suspicion that such items are concealed, staff should try to obtain them with the child's co-operation. The child will be given the opportunity to hand in the suspected items without the need for a search.

If the child does not co-operate, or is unlikely to, it may be appropriate to conduct a search of the child or his/her belongings/room. 

Before conducting such a search, staff should consult their own supervisor/manager and the child's social worker. Two staff should be present during the search, one of which should be the same gender as the child, and the child should be present.

When searching children, only outer garments may be searched such as asking a child/young person to empty their pockets, removal of their coat for checking and two staff must be present one being the same gender as the child/young person. More intimate searches may only be conducted by the Police or with the authorisation of the Court.

When conducting searches, reasonable precautions must be taken to protect against possible sharp or dangerous objects that may be concealed.

If weapons or any dangerous or offensive items are found, they must be confiscated and passed to the Manager.

1.2 Searches without Co-operation

If the child does not co-operate, or is likely not to, a search may be undertaken without the child's co-operation and they will be informed that a search of their possessions or room will take place.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the Director and child's social worker must be consulted and come to a decision about the actions that may be taken. It may be appropriate to consult relevant Line Managers.

When coming to a decision on the actions that will be taken, the Director/social worker(s) must take account of the following:

  • Two staff must be present, one of whom must be the same gender as the child, as the child if possible;
  • Only outer garments may be searched. More intimate searches may only be conducted by the Police or with the authorisation of the Court;
  • When conducting searches, reasonable precautions must be taken to protect against possible sharp or dangerous objects that may be concealed;
  • If weapons or any dangerous or offensive items are found, they must be confiscated and passed to the Director/Supervising social worker or child's Social Worker.

Exceptional Circumstances

If there is an immediate risk of Injury or Damage to Property, staff may take what actions they deem to be appropriate to protect themselves or others, where possible this must be in consultation with both the Director/on-call manager and placing authority. As an last resort, this can include the use of Physical Intervention in order to search a child, and the entering of a child's bedroom without their knowledge. However, staff must only take such actions if it is safe to do so and their actions comply with the provisions/procedures set out in Use of Restraint and Physical Interventions Procedure. If there is a risk that an offence may be committed, the Police must be called (See: Police Procedure).


2. Notifications and Management Review

There are different notifications procedures for searches concluded with and without children's co-operation.

2.1 With Children's Co-operation

Searches undertaken with the child's co-operation, where no force is used, must be notified to the Director at the first opportunity; the Director will decide whether to inform the relevant social worker.

2.2 Without Children's Co-operation

Searches conducted without the child's co-operation, where a level of force has been used, is an Incident and must be notified to the Director and relevant others within 24 hours or as soon as practicable thereafter.

The social worker should decide whether to inform the child's parent(s) and, if so, who should do so.

Depending on the seriousness of the Incident, other people/agencies may have to be notified, see Notification of Serious Events Procedure.


3. Recording

Searches should be noted in the home's Daily Log, relevant child's Daily Record, with details as listed below:

  1. The time and date of the search;
  2. The reason or suspicions which led to the need to conduct the search;
  3. Who conducted the search and whether the child or others were present;
  4. Whether the child co-operated;
  5. What was found, and whether items found were retained/confiscated;
  6. If items were retained/confiscated, where they were stored;
  7. Those present at the search;
  8. The record will be signed by everyone present.