“SIGNIFICANT” changes have been made at a secure children’s home in County Durham since the death of a 17-year-old girl, an inquest heard.

Coroner Tanyka Rawden said Aycliffe Secure Centre, where Taylor Alice Williams was living at the time of her death in February 2017, had gone “over and above” to make changes to the way it cares for its young people.

A jury recorded that Taylor had died by suicide.

Selwyn Morgans, manager at the centre, told the coroner several intensive investigations had taken place following the death of Taylor, resulting in a number of changes.

Nine recommendations have been implemented following a serious case review and investigations by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) and Ofsted.

Among them include a significant increase of staff working at Aycliffe’s forensic mental health team, from 1.8 at the time of Taylor's death to eight full-time and two part-time roles.

The Northern Echo: Taylor Alice WilliamsTaylor Alice Williams

There is also an additional advocacy service to give young people a bigger voice, while changes have also been made to risk assessments, how the centre monitors the checks being made on children and more integrated agency working.

Mr Morgans said: “It’s a safer place. I would say it’s still not a safe place because by saying that people might think people can’t take their own lives. They can. We have increased the percentage by the things we have done.

“It’s a more holistic place. We have better integration between ourselves and the physical health team, through lessons learned.

“I think the drive since we lost Taylor has been phenomenal. It’s the first time it has ever happened. I would like to say it will be the last."

Coroner Rawden said: “I find Aycliffe Secure Centre has gone over and above the recommendations made and have made a considerable about of changes to reduce the risk and keep young people there safe."

“I do not feel it is necessary to make a report to prevent future deaths."

She added: "Taylor has been described as popular, bright, intelligent, likeable and having bags of personality. It’s clear from the evidence of witnesses who knew her she was well-liked and her death has affected many of them hugely.

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Taylor Alice Williams died at Aycliffe Secure Centre in February 2017

“Her death has had a profound effect on many people, not just the witnesses we have heard from. It’s impossible for me to find the right words to reflect the loss of Taylor in such tragic circumstances.

“I offer my condolences to all those who knew and loved her.”

Nick Holden, Taylor's dad, who has been present throughout the inquest, said: "The changes are good but it should have been in place already, some of the things anyway.

"Hopefully it won't happen again."

He added: "We loved her dearly."

Taylor, who was described during the inquest as being “vulnerable and troubled”, died on February 18, 2017 after being found with a ligature around her neck.

The teenager, who was taken into the care of Worcestershire County Council in 2014, had a history of self-harm and had been hospitalised on a number of occasions.

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Catherine Driscoll, director of children’s services at the authority, said: "On behalf of Worcestershire County Council, I’d like to say we are deeply saddened by the death of this young girl. We understand the profound distress and upset this has caused her family and friends and we offer them our deepest sympathies.

"We also recognise the distress this has caused staff who knew her well and worked directly with her and we offer them our thoughts and support.

"Worcestershire Children’s Services worked alongside several partners to put in place a care plan that aimed to keep her safe and promote her wellbeing.

"We are very sorry that we were unable to prevent this young girl feeling so unhappy that self-harm became such a feature in her life.

"As the inquest heard the secure placement at Aycliffe was an appropriate place to care for her at the time prior to her death.

"The most important thing we can do now is reflect on what happened and learn any lessons we can on how to improve how we work with young people with such complex needs."

"We are working through all the investigative enquires that have taken place to ensure we act on any recommendations made for the improvement of practice and services to children and young people."

Margaret Whellans, Durham County Council’s corporate director for children and young people’s services, said: “First and foremost our thoughts remain with Taylor’s family and friends. She was immensely popular at Aycliffe Secure Centre and her death has affected staff greatly.

“We strive to make the centre the safest possible environment while also considering the needs to build trust with a young person and respect their privacy and dignity.

"Young people entering the centre are subject to multi-agency risk assessments leading to the formulation of plans on how any risks are managed. These are reviewed every fortnight and information shared on a daily basis among those working with young people.

“At the time of Taylor’s death, there were limits on items she could have in her room as part of her risk management plan and staff checked on her welfare every five minutes, the highest level of supervision possible on a routine basis.

“We have co-operated fully with the coroner’s inquest as well as the PPO investigation. We lead a multi-agency working group which devised an action plan in response to the PPO’s recommendations, resulting in a number of changes to policies and procedures at Aycliffe.

“We will now be considering the inquest’s findings fully before deciding whether there is a need for further action.”