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5.5.3 Behaviour Management Policy


  1. Introduction   
  2. Purpose   
  3. Key Philosophies 
  4. Permitted Measures and Sanctions
  5. Prohibited Measures and Sanctions  

1. Introduction 

This document sets out Wirral Council’s, Children and Young Peoples Department’s Policy with regards to the management of complex and challenging behaviour on the part of children and young people being supported by the authority.

Wirral Council believe that children in care should be treated fairly and with Courtesy and respect at all times. They should be listened to, helped to make choices and be involved in making decisions which will affect their lives. They should have experiences and opportunities for personal development and social inclusion as appropriate to their interests, preferences and abilities. They are entitled to have their rights upheld in conformity with the Human Rights Act and be free from discrimination.

A fundamental task in good quality work with children and young people is the ‘routine’ promotion and reinforcement of acceptable conduct; creating and maintaining positive relationships and communicating a high standard of expected behaviour through positive role models. This contributes to the culture of reasonableness which enables young people to begin to assert their rights and responsibilities in a climate of safety, trust and reassurance.

2. Purpose 

The purpose of this Policy is to provide a local framework based upon best practice and legal guidelines (The Fostering Services Regulations 2011 - standard 13 & Children’s Homes (Amendment) Regulations 2011, National Minimum Standard 3 - Promoting Positive Behaviour and Relationships).

3. Key Philosophies

Where physical interventions are specified in the Care Plan, Wirral Council will demonstrate that they are in the best interests of the child or young person. Challenging behaviour in many instances can be prevented by careful management of how the person interacts with others and their environment. Plans will identify the alternative approaches that have been tried and provide an evaluation of the risks involved. Contingency measures will set out steps to reduce the likelihood of the behaviour occurring or to mitigate its impact. The key philosophies of Wirral’s Behaviour Management Policy are that:

  • Physical intervention should only be used as a last resort and are reasonable, proportionate and necessary;
  • A range of diversionary and proactive strategies are to be used in advance of having to resort to physical intervention;
  • The decision to use physical intervention and the circumstances in which it is to be used is to be recorded on the child’s case file;
  • Risk management plans, involving the use of physical intervention are to be regularly reviewed;
  • As carers may be required to physically intervene, there is always a possibility of complaints being made against them. It is imperative that all complaints and allegations are fully investigated under Wirral LCSB Safeguarding procedures;
  • Circumstances where emergency restraint may be required to prevent significant harm include:
    • To prevent a child running towards a busy road;
    • To prevent or reduce the likelihood and impact of self injurious behaviour;
    • To prevent serious damage to property; which would result in injury to people present .

4. Permitted Measures and Sanctions

Wirral Council promotes positive relationships between carers and children and ensure that there is clarity around the expected standards of behaviour to establish what is ok and what is not. It understands that each carer will have their own tolerances and personal `triggers` when looking after children and young people who routinely test boundaries. However, it is an expectation that they will work in a calm, measured and educative way to manage these behaviours and that the methods they use to address them are consistent with Wirral Council’s agreed approach.

Where it is necessary to set sanctions, these should be proportionate, taking account of the child's personal risk assessment and be carefully considered. Every effort should be made to negotiate an outcome that avoids escalation, is realistic, enforceable in practice and doesn't result in the child (or carer who may be required to carry out the sanction) being `set up to fail'.

Wirral Council gives approval of the following measures being used:

Reparation / restitution: Making a financial or other agreed contribution to make amends for the damage or loss of other people's property. Repaying misspent monies e.g. where monies have been given for a specific purpose and were not used for that purpose, if necessary by installments which do not exceed 66% of the child/ young persons weekly allowance. This is line with the Restorative Practices protocol developed between Wirral YOS and Merseyside Police.

Delaying delivery of a personal allowance: As a proportionate response to: returning later than the agreed time, deliberately missed appointments, refusal to vacate others` bedrooms, causing nuisance and disruption - including after bedtime. (This should be in the clear context of the agreed times allowances are delivered; for example: if allowances are available between 9am and 5pm and the accrued delays would involve delivering the allowances outside these times, they would be paid from 9am onward the following day).

Extra household chores: Where household chores and tasks are part of the carer’s routines, additional time spent on these activities as a component of reparation / restitution.

Exclusion from activities: As an individual, not group, sanction for unacceptable behaviour: `missing a treat`.

Temporary withdrawal from the group: As a response to disruptive / inappropriate behaviours which cause nuisance to others e.g. acting - out at mealtimes, interrupting others` study / leisure time. This would usually include the allocation of a worker to talk the issue through and reach an agreement re: expected standards of behaviour, with a view to `re-introducing` the child at the earliest opportunity. Enforced isolation and measures such as requiring a child to routinely take meals or leisure activities separately are not permitted.

Temporary removal of possessions: In circumstances such as refusal to reduce the volume of stereos, games consoles and personal music and media devices e.g. iPods and mobile phones. This should be time-limited and followed up with agreements re: acceptable future use.

5. Prohibited Measures and Sanctions

Wirral Council prohibits any of the following measures or sanctions:

Any form of corporal punishment: The use of physical force as a punishment or to ensure compliance, including fighting - as opposed to proportionate measures of self defence - or physical contact conducted in an intimidatory manner.

Any punishment relating to the consumption or deprivation of food and drink: Denying food and drink which would normally be available, as a punitive measure. Equally, forcing children to consume food and drink that they do not like. Exceptions are: where certain foods are withheld on medical advice (which should be appropriately recorded with alternatives provided) and where children have deliberately missed mealtimes and demand food and drink on an `ad hoc` basis which would undermine the routines of the home.

Any restriction on contact with family or friends: Children are encouraged to maintain contact with their families and social networks unless there are legal or compelling reasons - which should be specified in planning documents.

Wearing distinctive or inappropriate clothing: Requiring a child to wear items of clothing, or any other signifier, that distinguishes them from their peers and indicates that they are being punished.

The use of withholding of medication or medical or dental treatment: There are no circumstances where denying or forcing medical treatment can be justified.

The intentional deprivation of sleep: Using sleep deprivation as a punishment is unacceptable. However, the reasonable expectation that children are awake and ready to attend school or other appointments punctually is part of good parenting and each home`s established routines. This is a baseline expectation. Where strategies are required to address behaviours such as young people returning from overnight absences and sleeping during the day, these should be discussed with all concerned and a consistent approach agreed.

The use of fines other than reparation/ restitution: Setting financial penalties is different from reparation / restitution and is not acceptable. Fines set by the Courts must be paid and plans to ensure that this is followed through should be agreed.

Any intimate physical examination: Searching a child’s person and possessions`.

The withholding of any aids or equipment needed by a disabled child: To withhold the use of equipment for reasons of limiting a child's independence is abusive and unacceptable. There may however be legitimate reasons for believing that the type of equipment a child is using could raise issues of safety and in such cases a risk assessment, full discussion of the findings and amendment to the Care Plan and Placement Information Record may be necessary.

Involving children in the punishment of their peers: Seeking or encouraging the involvement of children in enforcing rules is an unacceptable practice.

Punishing the group for the behaviour of an individual: This is a form of institutionalised bullying and ‘scapegoating’, and is never acceptable. All young people and carers should be aware of, and uphold Wirral’s anti-bullying Policy.

This document will be reviewed in line with any legislative change or local Policy developments.