Fears over child sexual exploitation had caused a Huddersfield children’s home to suddenly shut, it can now be revealed.
And youngsters being cared for at Copthorne House in Bradley were smoking in their bedrooms leading to a high fire risk.
The concerns have emerged in a council report which reveals that the home is due to open next month ... but with fewer beds.
The Ofsted report into its closure reveals that two main concerns needed sorting out before it would be re-registered with the watchdog.
Safety: Ofsted believed young people were in danger and at high risk of being physically and emotionally harmed through being exposed to child sexual exploitation. Some were missing on a daily basis and were seen getting into cars with people staff did not know.
It also noted children missed out on education, there was evidence of self-harm and illegal substances being used by the children and the monitoring was poor.
Fire risk: Ofsted believed there was insufficient action to prevent a fire after a mattress and pillow were set alight. Children were allowed to smoke in their bedrooms and around the home and had free access to cigarette lighters. Ofsted believed the risk of a fire starting was high.
Kirklees Council is expected to reopen the children’s home for those aged 13-16 with emotional and behavioural issues in May but as a four-bed home, two fewer rooms than previously.
Next week Kirklees councillors will discuss the steps taken to get it re-open.
Council papers say: “Copthorne House - one of our children’s residential homes - had its Ofsted registration suspended in November 2017. This was due to safeguarding and fire safety concerns. We have been working with Ofsted to meet the requirements of the compliance notices. It will reopen in May 2018 as a four bedded home.
“Six bedded homes can be complex to manage; therefore we will be looking at the make-up and offer of our in-house provision to ensure it meets the service’s sufficiency needs for the future.
“Many of the young people who come and live in our residential homes have had traumatic experiences in their lives and therefore our focus is on providing a warm, nurturing environment where young people feel safe and can begin to engage positively.
“This takes much longer for some young people than others; the relationships staff and young people develop are essential to enabling good outcomes.”
At the cross-party Children’s Scrutiny Panel meeting members will also discuss the borough’s two other children’s homes which are in Lindley and Dewsbury.
At the time of the closure a source told the Examiner the children who lived there had been moved and separated from friends, schools and social networks.