Children’s care home plans could impact on policing in Wellingborough

G4S wants to open a children's care home in Wellingborough
G4S wants to open a children's care home in Wellingborough

Police have raised concerns about plans to turn a residential house into a children’s care home.

Wellingborough Council’s planning committee was due to discuss the application by G4S Children’s Services for a change of use for 34 Hatton Avenue in Wellingborough from a dwelling house to a children’s home on Wednesday.

But the matter was deferred after the committee chairman received documents from Northamptonshire Police in relation to the application just 15 minutes before the meeting started.

Cllr Malcolm Ward said there was not enough time to consider the force’s views before making a decision so the matter was deferred to a date yet to be decided.

The police response has now been published, and it raises concerns about the impact the home could have on policing in the area.

A statement from Northamptonshire Police design and crime advisor says: “Northamptonshire Police have some concerns relating to the planning application in its present form.

“When reviewing police contact with other G4S children’s homes within Northamptonshire a preliminary search of our records show that the police have been called almost 200 times within the last year regarding issues relating to young

persons in their care such as, missing persons and welfare.

“It is therefore likely that the introduction of another establishment will increase police resourcing to deal with similar issues and therefore have an impact on local policing.

“Police officers have spent at least 90 hours dealing with initial reports of absent/missing persons with the Northamptonshire G4S homes.

“A preliminary search of our records shows that there have been no calls from neighbours about the Northamptonshire G4S homes only incidents and crimes from the homes themselves, which does indicate that there has been minimal impact on

local residents.

“Should the local authority be minded to grant permission for this proposal Northamptonshire Police will need a robust management plan from the applicant, setting out policies and procedures for minimising crime and disorder, dealing with

disruptive children/young people within their care and the policy related to missing persons.”

The application says up to five children aged between 10 and 17 would be present at the house at any given time if approval was given.

It would provide accommodation for youngsters from local authorities needing placements for looked after children and children in need.

Youngsters could be placed there because their parents are unwell, they have problems with their family, they are in the care of the local authority, subject to a court order or interim care order, or due to a foster placement breakdown.

The recommendation ahead of this week’s meeting was for councillors to approve the plans.