Foster carers may look after children placed on remand in Lincolnshire
Children accused of serious crimes in Lincolnshire could be sent to live in foster homes instead of being locked up, under new plans.
The proposals would allow magistrates to send children to stay with specially-trained families while they await court proceedings.
Currently, young people on remand are sent to youth offending institutions.
It is hoped the move would help to cut repeat offending in the county.
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The idea is being proposed by Lincolnshire County Council and would cost £150,000.
Debbie Barnes, director of children's services at Lincolnshire County Council, said: "Previously, local authorities received a third of the budget for remand services for children and young people but the Government are now giving the full budget to councils.
"They want local authorities to look at imaginative and effective ways to support children and young people who find themselves on remand.
"We will aim to give the courts more diverse opportunities and alternatives to custody where the needs of a young person can be effectively managed in the community.
"This group of young people may benefit from support like enhanced foster care.
"We are currently looking at this as a safe alternative to custody and we're beginning a recruitment campaign to find suitable support through enhanced fostering.
"This option would be presented to the courts as an alternative to custody but it would be for them to make the final decision."
Around 40 youths are subject to remand in Lincolnshire each year.
The county council is now looking to recruit four remand foster carers.
Mrs Barnes added: "The carers will be informed of the nature and seriousness of the offence and the degree of risk the young person poses to both themselves and members of the public.
"Most young offenders do not commit 'serious' crimes and will benefit by the conditions and expectations of a foster placement.
"The remand foster carers will be expected to accept any young person presented as needing a replacement.
"They have been specifically recruited and will have the experience and training to prepare them to manage this."
Nick Hall, divisional manager for Victim Support in Lincolnshire, said: "Victims will welcome this idea.
"We would support anything that is looking to stop repeat offending.
"Putting young offenders into a caring family environment will increase the chance of rehabilitation."
But other politicians say the scheme is flawed.
Marianne Overton, leader of the opposition at Lincolnshire County Council, said: "This is simply not a good idea.
"There is already heavy pressure on foster care as well as carers having to prop up their own families. This will just add to it.
"These carers would struggle to find the training and support they would need.
"Plus, young offenders should really be dealt with in an appropriate manner – and this is not it."