POLICE say proposals to turn a house into a care home for up to seven children could put a strain on its resources and have an adverse impact on neighbours, as well as the children living there.

Plans have been submitted by the Witherslack Group to turn Medulin, a five-bedroom property in The Dene, West Rainton, into a care home for children with special educational needs.

The group, which claims to be the UK’s leading provider of specialist education and care for young people with a range of special needs, says the house will provide a “positive and safe” environment for the children living there.

But Durham Police has voiced concerns about the development and its suitability.

It says in the last three years there has been a noticeable increase in the demand care homes have created for police and children’s services.

The force estimates the cost of policing one home in County Durham, which caters for four children and has generated 131 calls in its first 17 months, is £243,617, equating to the employment of four full time officers.

A statement submitted to Durham County Council’s planning team says: “Although the constant presence of the police at a home has an adverse impact on the community, creating a disproportionate fear of crime, the main concern is the rate of absconding, young people are at greatest risk when missing, with particular concern for girls who are at risk of sexual exploitation.”

Police are working with other organisations, including Durham County Council and Ofsted on developing a new policy on children’s homes.

According to their research, homes catering for a maximum of three children, with two adult carers best replicates a family home, providing optimum care, they say.

The police statement added: “In our view a home for up to seven children aged 11-18 years does not replicate a family environment, and therefore does not comply with the emerging policy.

“We believe the proposal in its current form will prove unsustainable and have and adverse impact on the community.”

The Witherslack Group, which runs 14 schools, 15 children’s homes, three vocational training centres and four integrated children’s homes and learning centre facilities, says the home will provide a “crucial social facility”.

They add the large garden provides an ideal place to play and say security measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of children.

If approved, the children living there would attend Ashbrooke School in Sunderland, which is also run by Witherslack.