3 Feb 2021
Howard League responds to Children in Custody report
The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report, Children in Custody 2019-20 – An analysis of 12-18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experiences in secure training centres and young offender institutions, published today (Wednesday 3 February).
The report, which draws on survey responses given by children in secure training centres and young offender institutions, reveals how they felt unsafe, were exposed to violence and self-injury, and were spending long periods locked inside their cells even before the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “When a child is in trouble with the law, we should do all we can to keep them safe, guide them away from crime and help them to thrive. Here, in their own words, children are telling us that prisons do the opposite.
“These survey responses, from before the pandemic, are the latest in a long line of requests for help from the tens of thousands of boys and girls who have been brutalised, abused, and denied basic amenities such as education and exercise in prisons over the last 40 years of failure. Even the simplest human decency, to be free from adult violence, is denied these children.
“As we seek to build a brighter future, it is time to take a fresh approach. The solution begins with closing prisons holding children and ensuring that all boys and girls are given the care and support they need and deserve.”
The Howard League legal team has provided advice and support to thousands of children and young adults in custody over the last two decades.
Half of all children who responded to the inspectorate’s surveys had been in local authority care. The Howard League is running a programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care, working with police, local authorities and children’s homes to prevent boys and girls being swept into the criminal justice system unnecessarily.
Notes to editors
- The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
- More information about the work of the Howard League legal team can be found on the charity’s website.
- More information about the Howard League’s programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care can be found on the charity’s website.
- A copy of the report, Children in Custody 2019-20 – An analysis of 12-18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experiences in secure training centres and young offender institutions, will be available from Wednesday 3 February on the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons website.
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