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3.13.6 Telephones, Mobile Phones and Letters

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to children placed in foster and residential care managed by the authority, but the principles apply to the placement of every Looked After Child. Therefore, where Looked After Children are placed with parents, relatives or friends or in placements not managed by the authority, the social worker must ensure these or other adequate procedures are applied.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Child Safety Online: A practical guide for parents and carers whose children are using social media

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in December 2016 to add a link to Child Safety Online: A practical guide for parents and carers whose children are using social media, (see Relevant Guidance above).


Contents

  1. General  
  2. Mobile Phones  
  3. Landline Phones  
  4. Sending and Receiving Letters  


1. General

Suitable arrangements should exist in all foster homes and children’s homes for matters relating the use of Mobile and Landline telephones and for receiving or sending letters by children.

The arrangements should be set out in the home’s Statement of Purpose, Foster Care Agreement or Placement Plan/Placement Information Record for individual children. 

In the absence of such arrangements, the following sections must be adhered to.

See also the impact of the Serious Crime Act 2015.


2. Mobile Phones

Children may have mobile phones if they are capable of using them without posing risks to themselves or others.

Mobile phones may be confiscated from a child to protect the child or another person from harm, injury or to protect property from being damaged. This can include the inappropriate use of the camera facility on a phone.

A decision to confiscate a mobile phone should normally be taken in consultation with the Manager/child’s social worker. Inappropriate use of the camera facility of a mobile phone will result in its confiscation.

However, in exceptional circumstance, a mobile phone may be confiscated without consulting a social worker. The exceptional circumstances are that there is an immediate risk of injury, damage to property or of an offence being committed if the phone were not confiscated.

If a mobile phone is confiscated without consulting the child’s social worker, the social worker must be notified within 24 hours.

If a mobile phone is confiscated it is a Sanction, and must be recorded as such.

See Sanctions Procedure.


3. Landline Phones

The arrangements for making telephones available to children in children’s homes and foster homes should be set out in the Statement of Purpose, Foster Care Agreement or Placement Plan/Placement Information Record for individual children.

Children may be expected to contribute to the cost of telephone calls; they may also be given an allowance or ‘phone cards. However, children should not be expected to pay for calls made by them to their social workers, parents or close family members so long as the frequency and length of calls are not excessive.

A decision to withdraw or prevent a child from using a telephone can be taken if doing so may protect a child or another person from harm, Injury or to protect property from being damaged.

A decision to withdraw a telephone should normally be taken in consultation with the Managers/child’s social worker. 

However, in exceptional circumstances, a telephone may be withdrawn without consulting a social worker. The exceptional circumstances are that there is an immediate risk of injury, damage to property or of an offence being committed if the use of the telephone were not withdrawn.

If a telephone is withdrawn without consulting the child’s social worker, the social worker must be notified within 24 hours.

If a telephone is withdrawn it is a Sanction, and must be recorded as such.

See Sanctions Procedure.


4. Sending and Receiving Letters

Children must be supported and encouraged to send and receive letters.

In some circumstances the sending and receiving of letters may need to be regulated and monitored by the child's social worker. Any such arrangements must be clearly stated in the child's Placement Plan/Placement Information Record and their Care Plan.

Such restrictions can only be placed upon a child where it is necessary to do so to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare, to protect another person from harm, Injury or to protect property from being damaged. 

If restrictions are placed upon a child sending or receiving letters, it is a Sanction and must be recorded as such.

See Sanctions Procedure.

End