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21 Mar 2018

Howard League responds to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons report on incentivising and promoting good behaviour by children in custody

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to a thematic report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons on incentivising and promoting good behaviour by children and young people in custody, published today (Wednesday 21 March).

The report’s findings support the Howard League’s research, policy work and legal work, which has revealed appalling conditions and dreadful treatment of children in prisons. Last year, a judge ruled that a boy, represented by the charity’s legal team, had been treated unlawfully after he was isolated in his cell for weeks on end without any access to education.

The Howard League legal team is the only frontline national team specialising in the legal rights and entitlements of children and young people in custody. Adjudications – disciplinary hearings that can result in the imposition of additional days’ imprisonment – are the most common issue raised in calls to the charity’s legal advice line.

The increased use of additional days’ imprisonment is a symptom of the deterioration of prisons holding children and young people.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Last year the Chief Inspector of Prisons said that there was no prison in the land where a child was safe. This report, which supports the Howard League’s research, helps to explain why.

“It is scandalous that children are being held by the state in conditions where bullying and violence are a part of everyday life – and, by resorting to more and more punishment in a desperate attempt to solve the problem, understaffed prisons are making matters worse.

“Today I have written to the prisons minister, asking for a meeting to discuss the problem of additional days’ imprisonment. It is high time that this inhumane treatment of children was ended once and for all.”

Research by the Howard League last year showed that children and young adults in prison were being disproportionately affected by adjudications and additional days. Prisons that hold children were found to have recorded some of the largest increases in the use of additional days.

Cookham Wood prison, which primarily holds children aged 15 to 18, handed down 1,059 additional days in 2016, compared to 784 in 2015 and 207 in 2014.

Feltham prison handed down 3,027 additional days in 2016, almost double the 1,526 handed down in 2015. An HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on Feltham, published last year, found that conditions in the prison, particularly in relation to safety, had deteriorated and that “this had resulted in a cycle of violence and punitive responses, with no obvious strategy to break it”.

The Howard League’s research also found that black and minority ethnic prisoners were more likely to be punished with additional days.

Notes to editors

  1. 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.
  1. The thematic report will be published in full on Wednesday 21 March on the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation website.
  1. The Howard League report, Out of control: punishment in prison, can be found on the charity’s website.
  1. The most recent inspection report on Feltham prison can be found on the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Prisons website.

Contact

Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955
Email: robert.preece@howardleague.org

ISDN line available on 020 7923 4196 – uses a G722 system

For enquiries outside normal office hours, please call +44 (0)7918 681094

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