When a child is in trouble, we should do all that we can to give them the care and support they need. This may sound obvious, but as the Howard League has seen through its legal work, and as a long line of official inspection reports makes clear, prisons holding children fail routinely to reach this standard. Prison is no place for a child.
During a hearing of the Justice Committee in Parliament on 13 July, when the Minister and the head of HM Prisons and Probation Service were asked about how girls were going to be cared for now that Rainsbrook secure training centre (STC) was closing down, they indicated, perhaps inadvertently, that they were thinking of putting the young girls into prisons holding boys.
Last autumn, a young Black autistic man called our advice line: a prison officer swore at him and when he reacted with a similar insult, he was restrained by multiple officers. To add insult to injury, he was then issued with a disciplinary charge for talking back to the officer who had verbally abused him.
Our members and regular supporters are the very beating heart of the charity. We rely on them for information about what’s happening across the country and for their activity in holding local decision makers to account.
In the past few weeks our legal team has been working hard to help children and young adults in prison. At a time when young people are being locked in their cells almost all day, we are working to get them safely released wherever possible.