Atkinson Secure Children’s Home in Exeter has become the first children’s home to be awarded a Restorative Service Quality Mark (RSQM) by the Restorative Justice Council in recognition of its work.

Recent figures show the home, which provided custodial places for the Youth Justice Board (YJB) until 2010, recorded only 91 restraint incidents in 2010, an eight-fold decrease since the 733 incidents reported throughout 2005. This represents a drop of 87 per cent over five years.

Since 2009, staff at the unit, which holds young people aged between 10 and 17 who have been admitted under a welfare order process because they are a serious risk to themselves or others, have been using restorative approaches to deal with problem behaviour.

Restorative approaches involve bringing the perpetrator and victim, or those involved in conflict, into communication, enabling them to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.

Pete Spearman, manager of the unit, said the use of restorative justice had not only led to a reduction in restraint, but also a reduction in the use of isolation as well.

“Being the first secure or residential children’s home to receive the RSQM is testament to the hard work and commitment our service has shown towards changing people’s perceptions of how to support and meet the needs of young people in residential care," he said.

“By developing a whole-system restorative approach to meeting young people’s needs and supporting their development, we have achieved great outcomes for young people that now has independent recognition from the Restorative Justice Council."

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