Skip to main content
Caption: floating buttons
View East Riding Safeguarding Children Partnership View East Riding Safeguarding Children Partnership
spacer_valid 2
View Working Together View Working Together
Caption: main heading

1.4.15 Refuges for Children at Risk


  1. Introduction
  2. Responsibilities of Refuges
  3. Responsibilities of Partner Agencies

1. Introduction

  1. Section 51 of the Children Act, 1989 provides a scheme under which bona fide organisations, which provide refuges for runaway young people, can be exempted from prosecution for assisting or inducing young people to run away or stay away or for harbouring them or for child abduction.
  2. Refuges can provide a breathing space for runaway children or young people and that workers in such refuges can work with the young people to help them return to their parents or to Local Authority accommodation, or to sort out some other solution if a return home is not appropriate.

2. Responsibilities of Refuges

  1. All refuges will be registered either as a voluntary or private children’s home or will have made an application in respect of a Foster Parent approved by the voluntary organisation (under the Fostering Services Regulations 2011).
  2. All refuges will be expected to have as one of its objectives the rehabilitation of the child or young person with his or her parent(s) or whoever else is responsible for the young person, provided that this is consistent with the welfare of the child.
  3. When a certificate is in force (Section 51 (1), Children Act, 1989) the provision of Regulation 3 will apply, e.g. the child must appear to be at risk of harm before being accepted into the refuge and, when in the refuge, must be at risk of harm if not staying at the refuge.
  4. The refuge must notify the Police of every admission within 24 hours with a view to the parent or other specified person being notified that the child or young person is in a refuge and being provided with a telephone contact number but not the address, of the refuge. The refuge must also notify the Police should also be notified by the refuge when the child leaves.
  5. Where a child or young person remains in the refuge for more than 14 consecutive days, or more than 21 days in any period of three months, the protection from prosecution which a certificate provides will apply but it can be withdrawn from the refuge if it is not being used in accordance with the basis upon which the certificate was granted.
  6. The person providing the refuge or the organisation may apply for an Emergency Protection Order or ask the Police to take the child into Police Protection if they believe the child or young person would suffer Significant Harm by being removed from the refuge. The Police can arrange for a child who is in Police Protection to be placed in a refuge (Section 46 (3)(f)(ii). The Emergency Protection Order (Transfer of Responsibilities) Regulations (Section 52 (3) and (4) will not require a child or young person to be removed from a refuge when an Emergency Protection Order is in force.
  7. At the time of issue, no refuges exist within East Riding of Yorkshire Council local authority area. The Children, Families and Adult Services Directorate would always become aware of any refuge within East Riding of Yorkshire, as it would be consulted prior to the issue of a Section 51 certificate.

3. Responsibilities of Partner Agencies

  1. Any member of staff who becomes aware of a child or young person whose normal home address is within East Riding of Yorkshire, who is living in a refuge should immediately inform the Safeguarding Team Manager in the locality of the young person’s normal home address. The Safeguarding Team Manager will then inform the relevant Area Manager and Service Manager (Social Care). This is in addition to the information that should be passed to the Police (refer to Key Point 6).
  2. As regulation 3 requires that a child or young person may not be provided with a refuge unless it appears to the person providing the refuge that the child or young person is at risk of harm, urgent consideration must be given to instigating the East Riding Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures and Guidance.