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11 Jun 2014

Unlawful child restraint plans will put lives at risk

The Howard League for Penal Reform and the Children’s Rights Alliance for England have today (Wednesday 11 June) released a joint statement in response to the Joint Committee of Human Rights’ report on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform said: “We welcome this report and its timely scrutiny of the government’s Dickensian plans for youth justice. MPs have recognised that allowing prison officers to restrain children violently, simply if they don’t follow orders, is illegal and will put lives at risk.  It is symptomatic of the kind of institution that ministers are proposing – not a college with education at its heart, but a giant prison where human rights are infringed and physical violence becomes part of the rules. The government has been very successful at reducing the number of children sent to prison. Ministers must abandon the idea of a Victorian child jail that will waste money and young lives.”

Paola Uccellari, Director of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, said: “This is about life and death for children. Allowing prison officers to use force to make children behave themselves is dangerous and carries a risk of injury. This is starkly illustrated by the fact that two children have died in custody, and many more have suffered injuries requiring hospital treatment, following the use of restraint. As the JCHR’s report highlights, the use of such force breaches children’s human rights because it is unnecessary. Secure children’s homes work with deeply troubled children, and do not use force to ensure compliance with orders. The Government is putting children’s lives at risk by pushing ahead with its unlawful plans. It must listen to parliamentarians and remove these powers to use force from the Bill.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the UK. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England works for a society where the human rights of all children are recognised and realised. CRAE monitors and reports on the extent to which children are enjoying their rights in practice to ensure that the Government is held accountable for its record on children’s rights. CRAE has sought independent legal advice on the use of force provisions in the Bill and will be publishing this in due course.
  3. The Joint Committee on Human Rights’ report is to be published on its website.
  4. The Howard League and CRAE are working jointly with the Standing Committee on Youth Justice to raise awareness of the implications of the government plans for secure colleges and have produced joint briefings.


Rob Preece
Press Officer
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955

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

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

Paola Uccellari
Children’s Rights Alliance for England
Tel: 020 7278 8222/07903 887071

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