Our response to today's figures on the increased use of DLOs against vulnerable children

Today’s report from the BBC on the increased use of Deprivation of Liberty orders on children and young people highlights the need for bespoke services and legislation to protect vulnerable young people who are at risk of criminal and other forms of exploitation.  

St Giles recommends that Deprivation of Liberty orders should only be used on young people in critical cases regarding safeguarding and where there is no other option available.  When they are used, we would call for intensive support to be provided to the young person subject to the order to address underlying issues and ensure the young person is given a route to a positive future.  

The orders are intended for adults who lack mental capacity. Figures released today based on Freedom of Information request responses to 91 local authorities show that orders increased from 47 in 2016/17 to 134 in 2018/19.  

St Giles’s caseworkers who work with young people involved in county lines have often encountered the use of these orders amongst their young clients.  Frontline insights from our caseworkers suggest that:  

  • Orders and secure accommodation will not in themselves solve issues and the children and young people need support. 

  • The money used for costs of the placements could be better channelled towards early interventions and prevention.  

  • Services and protection need to cater for young people up to the age of 25. Currently, it usually stops at the age of 18.  Our caseworkers have found vulnerable young people up to the age of 25 who are being criminally exploited – often young adults with hidden disabilities – and they need the same levels of support as those still in their teens.  

Overwhelmingly, this once again highlights the need for tailored, targeted services and legislation to address issues around child criminal exploitation.  Currently the legislation used was not intended for this purpose.