Place of Safety
The Place of Safety is an institutional mechanism in the Juvenile Justice System which provides, as the name suggests, a safe place of stay for a particular category of children i.e. children in conflict with law, who have either committed a certain category of offence and are in a particular age group or regarding whom it is perceived that any other existing residential arrangement will not be suitable for them or in their best interest.
As per Section 2(46) of JJ Act, 2015, “place of safety” means any place or institution, not being a police lockup or jail, established separately or attached to an observation home or a special home, as the case may be, the person in -charge of which is willing to receive and take care of the children alleged or found to be in conflict with law, by an order of the Board or the Children’s Court, both during inquiry and ongoing rehabilitation after having been found guilty for a period and purpose as specified in the order.
Further, as per Rule 29 (1) (iii) of JJ Model Rules, 2016, following are the categories of Place of Safety:
- for children in the age group of 16 to18 years alleged to have committed heinous offence pending inquiry;
- for children in the age group of 16 to 18 years found to be involved in heinous offence upon completion of inquiry;
- for persons above 18 years alleged to have committed offence when they were below the age of 18 years pending inquiry;
- for persons above 18 years found to be involved in offence upon completion of inquiry;
- for children as per the orders of the Board under clause (g) of sub - section (1) of section 18 of the Act. This institution was not created to house any child entering the juvenile justice system, but instead to address the specific and special needs of a special category of children. It is also understood thereby that children in conflict with law, especially those who are alleged or found to have committed heinous offences are children who are most vulnerable and need specialized, focused and designed interventions which would ensure the emotional, physical, social and economical well being of such children.
These interventions are to be based on a comprehensive assessment of the child and of the circumstances in which she /he has entered the JJ System. This is essential as research regarding developmental history of children and impact of adverse childhood experiences has demonstrated that failure to achieve developmental goals and childhood trauma result in health especially mental health and behavioral malfunctioning which often leads to offences of such grave nature. Assessment would therefore include understanding of the child‘s developmental history and the gaps therein and the socio economic background, as well as the circumstances in which the offence was committed. Unless such an assessment is carried out and by persons trained to do so, interventions administered would not be effective. Rehabilitation without assessment would neither prevent recidivism nor ensure that the child leads a meaningful life once she/he has left the institution.
Comprehensive assessment of the child, need based interventions and skilled caregivers are the three most critical components of any Place of Safety.
The Place of Safety has been defined and detailed in Section 2, (46) and Section 49, of the JJ Act, 2015 and in Rule 29 (iii) of the JJ Model Rules, 2016. There are other provisions and rules which also provide information regarding this mechanism. These include inter alia, provisions and rules related to, infrastructure, registration, categories of children in conflict with law who are to be placed therein, rehabilitation services, standards of care etc.
Place of Safety is:–
- A Child Care Institution (CCI) and all the provisions and norms related to CCIs under the Act and Rules framed there under will apply to this institution.
- Child-friendly and in no way shall it look like a jail or lock-up.
- To be attached with an observation home or a special home or established separately.
- An institution where Children are placed by the order of Juvenile Justice Board or the Children‘s Court for a period and purpose as detailed in the order.
- To house both category of children i.e. who are alleged to have committed an offence regarding which inquiry is ongoing or children who have been found guilty after completion of inquiry.
- A place wherein safe shelter and/or services for rehabilitation, is provided, as mandated. While the Place of Safety may be a segregated facility, it should provide all required services for the rehabilitation of the child in his or her best interest.
- For placement of children, alleged or found to have committed heinous offences or children who have not been granted bail in their best interest, irrespective of the offence or those whose matters have been referred to the Children‘s Court post assessment by the Board.
- A safe space for children till they attain the age of twenty-one years and thereafter, the person shall be transferred, by orders of the Children‘s Court , to an adult correctional facility or Jail.
The Place of safety established will further emphasise on:-
- Promoting the well being of the child by formulating individual care plans based on comprehensive assessment for the rehabilitation of the child.
- An assessment of a child which must include the child‘s developmental history, school history as well as social history. This would specially apply to children who have committed a heinous offence Interaction with the family and other persons associated with the child should not be restricted to the period of inquiry; instead it should be continued and a regular component of assessment of the child carried out during long term care and rehabilitation. These could be scheduled at the same time as Board / Children‘s Court hearings.
- Providing services for each child, as per the comprehensive assessment done, which will include inter alia, educational services, skill development, counseling, behaviour modification therapy and psychiatric support etc. for rehabilitation of the child. This will be reviewed periodically by the Probation Officer or Legal cum Probation Officer appointed by the State Government under DCPU) as directed by the Board/Children‘s Court.
- Positive measures should be taken to provide a safe and secure atmosphere and accident free infrastructure which helps the child over come trauma, identify the personality and behavioural patterns which are harmful to self and to learn self regulation, build trusting relationships and re-establish faith in a better life. The ultimate aim being to reduce vulnerabilities and minimize the internal risks of re-offending.
- Ensuring that the child is safe and that child protection mechanism such as suggestion book, suggestion box, children‘s committee etc. are in place.
- The JJ Act, 2015 and Rules framed there under mandate that every State must have at least one Place of Safety set up by the State Government.
- Place of Safety as mentioned earlier may be attached to an Observation Home or Special Home or established separately.
- Place of Safety shall also be registered as per procedure laid down under section 41 of JJ Act , 2015 for registration of Child Care Institutions. At the time of registration, the State Government shall determine and record the capacity and purpose of the Place of Safety.
- Norms related to infrastructure, under the Act and Rules there under, which are applicable to all CCIs, will also have to be adhered to in the Place of Safety. These include norms for type of rooms, size of rooms, number of rooms, lighting, safety and hygiene, space for outdoor activities etc.
- Additionally, norms related to segregation of children based on gender and age differences also have to be maintained.
- Children who are placed in Place of Safety will include:
- Children in the age group of 16 to 18 years alleged to have committed heinous offence pending inquiry;
- Children in the age group of 16 to 18 years found to be involved in heinous offence upon completion of inquiry;
- Persons above 18 years alleged to have committed offence when they were below the age of 18 years pending inquiry;
- Persons above 18 years found to be involved in offence upon completion of inquiry;
- Children as per th e orders of the Board under clause (g) of sub - section (1) of section 18 of the JJ Act, 2015.
Standards of care
- Just as for infrastructure and other provisions, standards of care for Place of Safety are also to be the same as those applicable for other Child Care Institutions. These include inter alia standards for clothing, bedding, toiletries, sanitation and hygiene, safety and security measures such as CCTV Cameras & Fire Extinguishers, Emergency Contact Numbers etc., documentation, nutrition, vocational training, education, medical care, protection from abuse (Childline 1098, Grievance and Complaint Mechanisms etc.), recreation etc.
- Even if the Place of Safety is a separate facility not attached to an Observation or Special Home, it should therefore provide all required services for the rehabilitation of the child in the best interest of the child.
- The Place of Safety must also have in place, the committees mandated under the JJ Act, 2015 for monitoring the administration of the CCI and the progress of every child and for ensuring child participation i.e. the management and children‘s committees respectively.
- Additionally a Child Protection Policy (CPP) must also be in place which is signed by all staff members, displayed in the CCI premises. This must include verification of all staff and monitoring of entry and exit of persons from CCI.
- Staff requirement for the Place of Safety shall be based on the special needs of the children placed there and which shall be as provided under the JJ Act, 2015, JJ Model Rules, 2016 and the ICPS. The State Government may make provisions for additional staff if required.
- The credentials and background of all staff recruited for the Place of Safety must be verified.
The importance of skills and knowledge in staff, who are to administer, monitor and execute a programme in a Place of Safety need special training and sensitization. The focus must be on building the knowledge, skills and the attitudes / mindset required to work in a setting of such a nature. Training of staff, induction / orientation as well as on job training, to be based on a training need assessment and include short term and long term training plans. Training content and methodology needs to be drawn up in consultation with experts from relevant fields such as Law, Training, Mental Health, Business Management, Entrepreneurship Development etc. Latest methodologies and knowledge related to Children in conflict with law, must be, contextualized and incorporated in training content.
Source : Living conditions in institutions for children in conflict with law - A manual by Ministry of Women and Child Development