Raise the age of criminal responsibility says Watchdog

A watchdog has called for the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales to be raised.

Individuals suspected of offences can be arrested and charged from the age of 10 under the existing rules.

This is lower than in many European countries and “inconsistent with accepted international standards”, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

It says criminalising children at the age of 10 or 11 can have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing and development, and risks making them more likely to reoffend as adults.

The EHRC is calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be “significantly” raised.

David Isaac, chairman of the commission, said: “Increasing the age of criminal responsibility is crucial to stop very young children being exposed to the harmful effects of detention and to protect their future.”

Having the age of criminal responsibility set at 10 allows for early intervention in a child’s life with the aim of preventing subsequent offending, according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

An MoJ spokeswoman said: “Younger children who offend are often diverted from the justice system or dealt with out of court and, in the last decade, there has been an 86% reduction in the number of under 18-year-olds entering the youth justice system.”

The EHRC flagged up the issue in a wide-ranging submission to a United Nations review.

It also recommended action to address overcrowding in prisons and the introduction of a 28-day time limit on immigration detention.

The Government said it is “committed to ensuring people in custody are treated fairly and appropriately”.

Children in Custody – Welcome signs of improvement but many still feel unsafe

Children in Custody 2017–18: An analysis of 12–18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experiences in secure training centres and young offender institutions

Signs of improvement in youth custody establishments have yet to translate into greater feelings of safety for those detained, according to new analysis of the perceptions of children in custody.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the study of children held in 2017-18 in England and Wales, warned against complacency because of improvements seen in some recent inspections of secure training centres (STCs) and young offender institutions (YOIs).

Despite indications of improved behaviour, significant numbers of children in both types of establishment still said they had felt unsafe at some time. The figures were 34% for STCs and 40% in YOIs.

In February 2017, Mr Clarke warned the Minister for Victims, Youth and Family Justice that HM Inspectorate of Prisons could not then classify any STC or YOI as safe enough to hold children, because of high levels of violence.

This year (2017-18), Mr Clarke said, “there have been some encouraging signs of improvement in safety at some establishments, but history tells us that all too often early signs of improvement have not been sustained.

“A key factor in securing a safe environment for children in custody is finding positive ways to encourage good behaviour. During the year we published a thematic report on this subject, the key finding of which was that all effective behaviour management was underpinned by positive relationships between staff and children. Building those positive relationships is a key challenge for both STCs and YOIs, given the shortages of staff, their high turnover rates and, in too many establishments, very poor time out of cell for the children.”

Mr Clarke added: “It is notable that there has been no statistically significant shift in the perceptions of children about their treatment and conditions – either in STCs or YOIs. Too many children… (34% in STCs and 40% in YOIs) report having felt unsafe since coming into custody.”

The independent HMIP report was commissioned by the Youth Justice Board (YJB). Mr Clarke said the YJB and the recently created Youth Custody Service (YCS) within the prison service should fully understand a notable finding in the perceptions analysis. This is that significantly more (87%) children in STCs reported being treated respectfully by staff than the 64% of boys who did so in YOIs.

A total of 686 children, from a population in custody of just under 840, answered questions in a survey.

Key findings included:

  • 42% of children in STCs identified as being from a black or other minority ethnic background;
  • Over half of children (56%) in STCs reported that they had been physically restrained in the centre;
  • Nearly a third of children in STCs (30%) reported being victimised by other children by being shouted at through windows;
  • Over half (51%) of boys in YOIs identified as being from a black or minority ethnic background, the highest rate recorded in surveys of YOIs:
  • Half of children (50%) in YOIs reported that they had been physically restrained.

Mr Clarke said:

“I trust that the details of this report will prove useful to those whose responsibility it is to provide safe, respectful and purposeful custody for children. As we all know, the perceptions of children in custody, will, for them, be the reality of what is happening. That is why we should not allow the recent improvement in inspection findings to give rise to complacency.”

Read The Report

How Low Staffing Impacts On Child Safety In Prisons

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Staffing problems meant far too many boys were locked up in cells nearly all day in young offender institutions, according to an annual report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons on the experiences of detained children aged 12 to 18.

Though the numbers who had felt unsafe in YOIs had fallen from a record high level in 2015–16, surveys in 2016–17 still found almost 40% had felt unsafe. Children in secure training centres (STCs), home to a larger number of under-16s, generally felt safer than those in YOIs but a fifth said they had no-one to turn to if they had a problem.

And in 2016–17, across both types of custody, there were disproportionate numbers of black and minority ethnic children, and children from Gypsy, Romany or Traveller communities, compared to their representation in the general population. Children with disabilities and mental and emotional health problems, and with backgrounds in local authority care, were also held in high numbers.

The report – Children in Custody 2016–17 – summarised findings of surveys distributed in HMIP inspections in the year. A total of 720 children completed the surveys. In his foreword, Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, recalled that in February 2017 he had warned ministers that none of the establishments holding children were judged in inspections to be safe and the speed of the decline in safety was “extraordinary”.

In 2016–17, Mr Clarke added, “the impact of staffing constraints appears to have been more keenly felt by children this year. In YOIs…we have found far too many boys being locked in their cells for more than of 22 hours each day, with staff struggling to manage the complexities of regimes where some boys can only be allowed out of their cells while others are locked up. Too often in STCs, we found that staff were being redeployed from their assigned unit to cover gaps elsewhere in the centre. More than a fifth of children in STCs said they had no one to turn to if they had a problem, meaning that many vulnerable children with complex needs were trying to manage their problems without support.”

Overall, the numbers of children in custody has fallen by 70% since 2006–07 and the number of girls continues to fall – though Mr Clarke said it was important their specific needs were not overlooked.

Among key findings:

  • Nearly half (49%) of children in STCs were from a black or other minority ethnic background. 12% said they were Muslim and 10% were from a Gypsy, Romany or Traveller background.
  • More than one in five children (22%) reported feeling unsafe at some point since arriving at the STC.

In YOIs:

  •  Nearly half (48%) of boys identified themselves as being from a black or minority ethnic background. Around one-fifth (22%) were Muslim and the proportion of boys who   had experienced local authority care was 42%. Almost one-fifth (19%) of boys reported having a disability.
  • 39% of boys said they had felt unsafe, a fall on last year’s figure of 46%.
  • There was a significant fall in the proportion of boys who said they could have a shower every day (71% compared with 88% in 2015–16) and the proportion who could use the phone every day had fallen significantly from 80% to 68%.

Mr Clarke said:

“Last year, I invited those with the responsibility to develop and improve policy to take our findings seriously. I trust that the realignment of responsibilities between the Youth Justice Board, the Ministry of Justice commissioners of services and the new Youth Custody Service within HM Prison and Probation Service will lead to improvement, and that the process of restructuring and reform will not detract from the urgent need for an effective operational response to the issues raised in this report. The need for this to be the case has actually increased, particularly when it comes to improving both the perceptions and the reality of safety. Until this is addressed, the broader objectives of delivering education, training and creating a rehabilitative environment will not be achieved.”

A copy of the report, published on Wednesday 23 November, can be found at http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections

published today: Children in Custody 2015-16: an analysis of 12 to 18-year-olds’ perceptions

 Juv CentreNearly half of boys in young offender institutions have felt unsafe in custody at some point, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published a thematic report on the results of surveys of children in custody.

The report, Children in Custody 2015-16: an analysis of 12 to 18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experience in secure training centres and young offender institutions, commissioned by the Youth Justice Board (YJB), sets out how children describe their own experience of imprisonment. The number of children in custody fell by 53% between 2010-11 and 2015-16, made up largely by falls in the number of children held in young offender institutions (YOIs), down 59%. Over the longer term, the secure children’s estate population has fallen by 66% since 2005-06. As of April 2016, 906 children aged under 18 were held in custody across England and Wales.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has published an annual summary of survey responses in YOIs since 2001-02 and the demographics and circumstances of the boys held have changed over that period. The proportion who said they were from a black or minority ethnic background is at the highest rate recorded since 2001-02, at 47%. Those with experience of the local authority care system (37%), Muslim boys (22%), boys reporting a disability (19%) and those identifying as being from a Gypsy, Romany or Traveller background (7%) continued to be disproportionately over-represented across the YOI estate when compared with the population as a whole. When asked if they had ever felt unsafe at their establishment, 46% of boys said they had, the highest ever figure recorded through our surveys.

The report also found that in YOIs:

  • the proportion of boys with a job in their establishment had fallen significantly in the past 12 months (16% compared with 28% in 2014-15); and
  • the proportion of boys engaged in a job (16%), vocational training (11%) and offending behaviour programmes (16%) across the YOI estate was lower than in 2015-16 than at any point since 2010-11.

In April 2012, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission began joint inspections of Secure Training Centres (STCs). This report includes the fourth annual summary of children’s experience of STCs. The demographics of STCs and YOIs have some significant differences. YOIs hold only boys aged between 15 and 18. All girls aged under 18 are now held in either STCs or local authority-run Secure Children’s Homes (SCHs). STCs held a greater proportion of children under 16 than YOIs, at around a third (32%).

The report also found that in STCs:

  • the proportion who identified as being from a black or minority ethnic background was 41%;
  • the proportion who identified as Muslim was 15%;
  • the proportion who said they were from a Gypsy, Romany or Traveller background was 12%;
  • nearly a third of children (31%) report being victimised by being shouted at through windows; and
  • nearly a quarter of children (23%) reported feeling unsafe at some point since their arrival at the STC.

Peter Clarke said:

“Over the past decade the number of children in custody has fallen by some 66%, but the perceptions of those that remain leave us with some worrying and difficult issues to consider. During the inspections of young offender institutions in the past year, we found that outcomes in our test of safety were not sufficiently good in all but one YOI. Our surveys disclose that 46% of boys had at some point felt unsafe at their establishment, the highest figure we have recorded. These poor outcomes in safety are directly related to correspondingly poor outcomes in education.

“There are some particularly troubling findings in the areas of disproportionate over-representation (in terms of the characteristics of the children now being held in custody), safety, victimisation, respect and training. I hope these findings are taken seriously by those charged with developing and improving policy.”

Colin Allars, Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board, said:

“Parts of this report are uncomfortable to read – trends around safety are concerning.  We will use these findings to support our work with providers of custodial services to address the issues children and young people are telling us about.

“The YJB has a role in ensuring young people are looked after whilst in custody, and to do that effectively we must listen to their views. We commission this independent survey because its findings are important in ensuring that the voices of children and young people in custody are heard and because it helps us to monitor the services provided to them.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 15 November 2016 at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/thematic-research.htm

Children in Custody: Distance From Home – A Thematic Review.

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 16.23.59Placing children in custody miles away from their home affected how many family visits they received, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. It didn’t, however, have a significant impact on other experiences of custody and could help some boys keep away from gang influence, he added.

Today he published a report, The impact of distance from home on children in custody.

The independent review was commissioned by the Youth Justice Board (YJB). It pulls together views and data on the impact of distance from home on children in custody. The aims of the thematic were to:

 explore the impact of distance from home on aspects of daily life in custody for children, and

 explore the impact of distance from home on resettlement planning and outcomes on release.

The report draws on interviews with around 50 children and staff at two young offender institutions (YOIs) and one secure training centre (STC), and data provided by those establishments. It also uses data from surveys conducted at four YOIs holding 15–18-yearolds and two STCs, and recall data provided by the YJB.

Key findings.

 Children who were held further from home had fewer visits than those who were close to home. For each child included in our survey sample, analysis of data on visits revealed that those held further from home had significantly fewer visits from family members and friends, with cost and travel time cited as reasons for children not receiving visits. The impact of this was raised as a negative influence by children and their caseworkers during interviews. Most caseworkers and managers, when asked about the vulnerabilities of the children in their care, linked them to problems with family contact. Little was being done, bar a pilot of using Skype at one YOI, to mitigate this impact on the boys and girls concerned (see paragraphs 4.14–4.24).

 Analysis of data for 595 children showed that children who were further away from home received significantly fewer visits from professionals. This mirrored what children told Inspectors in interviews (see paragraphs 4.43–4.44).

 Planning for release and resettlement followed the same process irrespective of distance from home. Children saw advantages in being close to home when it came to their release and caseworkers described it as sometimes harder to put a suitable release package in place for those who were further away from home. Elements such as family mediation work and ‘through the gate work’ (continuation into the community of work begun in custody) were seen as more difficult when greater distances were involved. Family involvement and support post release was seen as a key element whenever there was a chance of this being available (see paragraphs 4.48–4.51).

 In the sample of cases looked at, distance from home had little impact on attendance by external partners at sentence planning or remand management reviews. There was good attendance by external youth offending team (YOT) workers regardless of distance and families attended half of the reviews for children who were closer to home, and slightly fewer for those who were far from home (see paragraphs 4.34–4.36).

 There was no association between distance from home and recall to detention following release. Analysis of release and recall data for a census of over 1,300 children subject to a detention and training order (DTO) who were released in England and Wales during 2013–14, showed no identifiable link between distance from home while in custody and likelihood of recall to custody post release (see paragraph 4.58).

 Survey data and interviews with children showed distance from home was not a predictor of whether a child had felt unsafe in their YOI/STC. It was of concern though that nearly half of children, regardless of their distance from home, had at some point felt unsafe while in their current YOI/STC (see paragraph 4.5). Similarly, distance from home was not a predictor of whether a child reported that they had experienced victimisation from staff or other children, considered that they were treated with respect by staff, or had been restrained (see paragraphs 4.6–4.12).

 Distance from home did not have a significant impact on the experiences of children in many areas of custodial life. The main exceptions to this were: visits from family, involvement of family in preparation for release and the involvement of external professionals (other than for sentence or remand planning reviews).

 Arriving late at the YOI/STC, which can make it more difficult for a child to settle on their first night in custody, was not uncommon and could be exacerbated by the distances some children had to travel to get to their YOI/STC. In our Transfers and Escorts5 thematic review, we reported on the scope to make greater use of ‘virtual courts’ that could reduce the need for children to make lengthy journeys for brief court appearances and transfers. We repeat that observation in this review.

 Boys in YOIs who were close to home reported more gang problems when they first arrived at their YOI than those who were far from home. Caseworkers saw benefits for some children in being away from gang influences, or an area where their offence had attracted local attention. One child pointed to the advantage of being away from previous influences and having the chance to mature, and other children interviewed saw advantages in being further from home. It was considered easier as you were not reminded of family all the time, and knowing what was ‘on the other side of the fence’ could be a source of frustration for some. That young people who reported gang problems were placed closer to home than those who did not report such problems may be due to the geographical locations of YOIs and those young people involved in gangs, rather than the distances involved (see paragraphs 4.12 and 4.29).

The Report recommends

More imaginative solutions and flexibility should be used to mitigate the current lack of visits for children whose family find it hard to visit, whether due to distance or other factors.

 Children should be provided with additional phone calls to a parent/carer in place of unused visit entitlements.

 There should be greater use of new technologies to enable children in custody to have the levels of contact they need with external professionals who will be working with them post release, and to enable relevant ‘through the gate’ work to commence while in custody.

 Age appropriate information should be available in all courts so children who are committed to custody can know before they leave the court where in England or Wales they are going, where this is in relation to their home and what the YOI/STC offers.

 Children should routinely be given the opportunity to discuss how they feel about their distance from home and how any negative impacts they are experiencing can be mitigated.

 Available data should be used on a regular basis to determine any negative impacts on children who are placed far from home, particularly in relation to recall and reoffending, and to identify any emerging patterns or trends.

 There should be increased use of video-enabled court hearings, when appropriate, while ensuring there are no adverse consequences for the child or criminal justice procedures. Safeguards should ensure that the child is able to appropriately consult with their solicitor prior to their hearing. (Repeated recommendation from escorts thematic.)

After publication of the Report Peter Clarke said:

“It was reassuring to find that being placed in custody far from home was not a disadvantage to children in many respects. The negative impact on family ties and the implications this has for successful resettlement and turning children away from crime cannot, though, be ignored.”

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales welcomed the report and called for ‘thinking outside the box’.

Mr Leech said: “This report is welcome in that it revisits a very important issue, but did we really need a Thematic Review to tell us long distance and fewer visits are inextricably inter-linked?

“It has long been established that family contact is crucial to rehabilitation, the Inspectorate’s own 2014 report on resettlement of adults makes this point, and the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty include that ‘detention facilities for juveniles should be decentralised and of such size as to facilitate access and contact between the juveniles and their families.’

“The point that increased distance from home can reduce gang influence may well be a welcome by-product, but keeping children far from home ought to be the exception not the rule; the costs in terms of rehabilitation far outweigh any benefits.

“A much reduced YOI Estate inevitably means distance from home will increase, fewer visits will take place, and therefore it is surely time to start thinking outside the box and use modern technology, such as Skype, to facilitate increased family and professional face-to-face visits where distance from home reduces or often prevents physical visits from taking place at all – and not just for children, although they should perhaps be the first to benefit, but across the prison estate nationally.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

Replace child prisons with small units to cut reoffending says new report

childinprisonReplacing large children’s prisons with smaller units could boost Justice Secretary Michael Gove’s attempts to reduce reoffending rates, a report suggests.

Detainees in young offenders’ institutions are more likely to suffer violence and longer periods in isolation, it was claimed.

Youngsters can also be locked up in secure training centres and secure children’s homes.

The Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield, who commissioned the research, said: “Keeping children in units where they are likely to suffer violence, intimidation and longer periods of isolation has long-term costs. Children in those environments are more likely to reoffend when they are released.

“When children are kept in isolation their education is disrupted and it is far harder to reintegrate them into society once they have served their sentences.

“The Justice Secretary needs to take note of this report and consider replacing large children’s prisons with small secure units.

“These may be more expensive to run in the short term because they require a higher adult to child ratio but would be cost effective if they help to keep young people out of trouble in the future.”

The study found that on average, a third of children in the youth justice secure estate in England are subject to isolation at some point. The approach is often used as a method for maintaining order and safety.

Young people held in secure children’s homes and training centres are usually placed in isolation for shorter periods than those locked up in larger young offender institutes, according to the report.

It called for an end to solitary confinement, saying this can see children kept in isolation for 22 hours or more.

Ms Longfield said: “Even where there are children who may never be released from prison, long periods of segregation is likely to have detrimental effect on their behaviour and outcomes.

“The number of children held in secure units has fallen dramatically in recent years to around 1,000 children from about 3,000 seven years ago so the effective reintegration of those who are released is within our grasp.

“We need to ensure that the right resources are available to eradicate re-offending on release.”

Mr Gove has set out proposals that would amount to a radical overhaul of prisons since being appointed to the role following the election.

He has floated the idea of linking an offender’s release date to their academic performance while behind bars as he lamented the UK’s failure to reduce re-offending rates as “horrifying”.

Mr Gove has also indicated that Victorian jails could be closed and sold off to help fund an upgrade of Britain’s “out of date and overcrowded” prison estate.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “We take the safety and welfare of these children extremely seriously.

“We are clear that children should only be segregated as a last resort, under careful control and regular review, where they are putting themselves and others at risk.

“The Secretary of State has commissioned a review of the youth justice system which will report next year.”

May to name new Chair of Child Abuse Inquiry

Theresa-May

Theresa May is expected to announce the new chair of the troubled child abuse inquiry following the resignations of two previous holders of the post.

The Home Secretary has also been considering the format of the inquiry, which could potentially involve scrapping the existing panel and replacing it with a more powerful body.

The new appointment follows the loss of two former chairwomen, who stood down over perceived conflicts of interest.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Secretary has been having a series of meetings with survivors of child abuse right up to this point. She is going to make an announcement today.”

The first person appointed to lead the inquiry was Baroness Butler-Sloss, who stood down as chairwoman in July last year amid questions over the role played by her late brother, Lord Havers, who was attorney general in the 1980s.

Her replacement Dame Fiona Woolf resigned following a barrage of criticism over her “Establishment links”, most notably in relation to former home secretary Leon Brittan, who died last month.

Mrs May, who set up the inquiry to consider whether public bodies had neglected or covered up allegations of child sex abuse following claims paedophiles had operated in Westminster in the 1980s, is also due to set out how it will proceed.

A fresh statutory inquiry or a Royal Commission could be set up to continue the work.

Alison Millar, from the law firm Leigh Day, which is representing dozens of abuse victims, said the inquiry had been a “shambles”.

Asked what she wanted to see happen, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Obviously, rebooting this inquiry so that it has a new head in terms of the chair and so it is reconstituted with statutory powers, I think that’s very important.

“There is, as far as I can tell, almost unanimous agreement that an inquiry of this nature requires the power to compel witnesses to attend and to require the production of documents.

“I think terms of reference and a structure that engages much better with abuse survivors and gives them the confidence that this inquiry will listen to them and learn from them.”

She added: “The people I represent have really been waiting a lifetime for an inquiry like this but have become increasingly sceptical that this inquiry is going to get to the fundamental truth given the shambles there has been in the over 200 days since it first set up.”

Ms Millar suggested a Royal Commission could be the way forward: “That is the scale of the problem and if we are going to do this we have got to do this properly.”

Former children’s minister Tim Loughton said the situation had become a “mess” but the inquiry had to happen.

The Tory MP told Today: “We have just got to park on one side that this could have been handled a lot better, the way it was established could have been rather more transparent.

“I think nobody should doubt the Home Secretary’s absolute sincerity and commitment that we should get to the bottom of what is a very long, complicated, historical sex abuse story.”

He added: “People’s confidence has been completely knocked because of this constant tsunami of historic cases coming out.

“We need to get to the bottom of it, we need to see where it went wrong, how society appears to have covered up, is that cover-up still happening in certain places, are people responsible for that cover-up still in places of responsibility and, ultimately, now we must be assured that we have a child protection system… that is fit for purpose.

“That’s why we need an over-arching inquiry on top of all these different reviews and prosecutions going on, which must continue to go on, and we have got to get this back on track.”

HMYOI Werrington – Improvements made but challenges remain say Inspectors

Werrington

HMYOI Werrington was working more positively with the young people it held, but still had areas to address, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the young offender institution near Stoke-on-Trent.

HMYOI Werrington holds up to 160 boys under the age of 18. During the inspection about two-thirds were sentenced and one-third on remand. The significant risks and accountability of institutions holding children and young people means they are now inspected more frequently. This inspection followed an inspection in 2012 where inspectors found a reasonably caring institution, but one that had slipped back, where expectations were too low, poor behaviour not sufficiently challenged and where young people had little to do. This inspection found some improvements, but with significant shortcomings remaining.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • the new purpose-built reception was impressive and young people reported very positively about their treatment on arrival;
  • behaviour management had improved;
  • use of force had fallen, was better managed and incidents were now more likely to be de-escalated by staff;
  • child protection and safeguarding arrangements were very effective and Werrington was well connected with the local authority in support of this work;
  • relationships between staff and young people were positive, but this was often not reflected in formal structures such as case notes or an effective mentoring scheme;
  • there were higher expectations of young people and outcomes for young people from minorities were reasonably good;
  • young people generally had a reasonable amount of time out of cell;
  • Werrington was developing its strategy to improve learning and skills and attendance and behaviour were better; and
  • work in support of resettlement remained good.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • although anti-bullying measures were more robust, levels of violence remained high;
  • the quality of respect was critically undermined by some very poor environmental conditions: some cells were filthy and a few were not in a fit state to house young people; and
  • some teaching required improvement and the range of vocational training was limited.

Nick Hardwick said:

“Werrington has taken steps to address some of the key issues we identified at our last visit. There is now a more positive approach to working with young people and some significant risk continues to be reasonably well managed. This will be more sustainable and useful if it is supported by effective systems and structures to embed the improvement. Improvements to the provision of purposeful activity need speeding up and the cleanliness of accommodation requires immediate attention.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:
“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector recognises the progress that is being made at Werrington.

“The Governor and his staff are working positively to offer good resettlement and improve the behaviour of a complex and challenging population.

“They will continue to build on these improvements as they address the recommendations set out in the report.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 6 March 2014 at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/prison-and-yoi/werrington

INQUEST response to the YJB Child Deaths Report

INQUEST Charitable Trust
INQUEST Charitable Trust

INQUEST response to Youth Justice Board report on deaths of children in custody

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“Whilst this report offers some insight into the Board’s learning from child deaths, it can be no substitute for a wider review.

“INQUEST’s work on the deaths of children shows the same issues of concern repeat themselves with depressing regularity. This demonstrates that the current mechanisms, including the YJB, are not preventing deaths of children.

“And recent government proposals relating to restraint and secure colleges for children also call into question the extent of the impact the YJB’s learning is having on policy-making.

“A short report cannot be a substitute for a full, holistic, independent review of child deaths in custody that encompasses all findings and recommendations, and examines the wider public health and welfare issues and a child’s journey into the prison system.  The government must extend the remit of the inquiry it is commissioning into the deaths of 18-24 year olds in prison to include children.”

Notes to editors:

1.  The YJB report can be accessed here: http://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/monitoring-performance/serious-incidents

2.  The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill can be accessed here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/criminaljusticeandcourts.html

3. INQUEST’s briefing on the need for an independent review of the deaths of children and young people can be accessed here  

For further information, please contact Hannah Ward, INQUEST Communications Manager on 020 7263 1111 / 07972 492 230.

INQUEST provides a general telephone advice, support and information service to any bereaved person facing an inquest and a free, in-depth complex casework service on deaths in custody/state detention or involving state agents and works on other cases that also engage article 2 of the ECHR and/or raise wider issues of state and corporate accountability. INQUEST’s policy and parliamentary work is informed by its casework and we work to ensure that the collective experiences of bereaved people underpin that work. Its overall aim is to secure an investigative process that treats bereaved families with dignity and respect; ensures accountability and disseminates the lessons learned from the investigation process in order to prevent further deaths occurring.

Please refer to INQUEST the organisation in all capital letters in order to distinguish it from the legal hearing.

YJB Child Deaths In Custody – Lessons Learnt Report published

yjb-dic-p1

The YJB’s report Deaths of Children in Custody: Action Taken, Lessons Learnt explains the actions taken by the YJB in response to recommendations made by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, coroners and Serious Case Reviews, following the deaths of children in custody since 2000. It also identifies the work that still needs to be undertaken to ensure that when children must be held in custody, it is in a safe environment which protects them from harm.