Carolyne Willow https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/9615/all cached version 20/01/2018 12:40:52 en Two dead boys, UK state secrecy and the long fight for transparency on restraint https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/two-dead-boys-uk-state-secrecy-death-by-restraint <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An official manual governs the use of restraint on children in custody. It was published with 182 redactions. Carolyne Willow campaigns for transparency. This week the Court of Appeal hears her case.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/boy4.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="image of boy by @ReeceWykes"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/boy4.jpg" alt="" title="image of boy by @ReeceWykes" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>image by @ReeceWykes</span></span></span></p><p>Thirteen years ago two boys died after being restrained by staff in English prisons run by G4S and Serco. Both boys had been in care and lived in children’s homes.</p> <p>The restraint techniques approved for use in child prisons aren’t open to full public scrutiny. I’ve spent five years challenging that. This week the Court of Appeal will hear my case. </p> <h2><strong>Why does this matter?</strong></h2><p>Fifteen year-old Gareth Myatt died of positional asphyxia after three G4S custody officers forcibly held him down in a seated position and bent his upper body towards his thighs and knees. They ignored his cries that he couldn’t breathe. He had been admitted to Rainsbrook secure training centre near Rugby on a Friday and was dead the following Monday. At the inquest into Gareth’s death, a document was produced showing the nicknames of G4S restraint trainers. They included Clubber, Mauler, Crusher and Breaker.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETHMYATT400.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Gareth Myatt"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETHMYATT400.jpg" alt="" title="Gareth Myatt" width="396" height="278" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span></p><p>Fourteen year-old Adam Rickwood took his own life after he was unlawfully restrained for refusing to go to his cell. Adam was inflicted with the ‘nose distraction’, a restraint technique that involves a severe blow to the nose. He left behind a note saying he had asked officers what gave them the right to hit a child on the nose. Several years later, a judge declared there was no right to hit a child in these circumstances.</p> <p>The deaths of these two very vulnerable boys in 2004 shone a light on the terrible treatment of child prisoners. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (which I then ran) asked the government to scrutinise the restraint records of G4S and Serco to identify and then inform individuals who may have been unlawfully restrained as children. The government refused.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D*ADAMRICKWOOD.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D*ADAMRICKWOOD.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="225" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam Rickwood</span></span></span></p> <p>We pursued a judicial review<strong> </strong>and lost our claim that ministers were duty-bound to undertake this remedial action. However, neither the government nor the prison companies challenged the evidence of widespread unlawful restraint starting from when the secure training centres first opened, in the late 1990s. In a damning judgment, which revealed for the first time the extent of abusive regimes, Foskett J concluded:</p> <p>“I do not think that there is any true or realistic alternative to the conclusion (a) that probably up until July 2008 (and possibly, though unlikely, for another two years thereafter) there was widespread unlawful use of restraint within the STC [secure training centre] system and many children and young persons were subjected to such restraint and (b) that <strong>very few, if any, of those who were subject to such unlawful restraint appreciated at the time that it was unlawful</strong> [91].” [Emphasis added].&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Fight for transparency, 2007-2010</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>As well as that legal battle for justice for children unlawfully restrained, we pressed for disclosure of the manual showing the restraint techniques used by G4S and Serco officers. We argued transparency was essential for child protection and this would help right the wrongs of the past. The evidence was on our side. </p><p>Of particular importance were the recommendations of an independent review of restraint established by ministers after the inquests into the deaths of Gareth and Adam. Among the review’s 58 recommendations was this one:</p><p>“<a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130321054602/https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/Review%20of%20restraint.pdf">Establishments should inform children and their parents or carers, of their restraint policy, <strong>methods used</strong> and safeguards in place</a>.” &nbsp;[Emphasis added].</p> <p>The government accepted this call for transparency. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*bigman_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="illustration: boy menaced by large men"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*bigman_1.jpg" alt="" title="illustration: boy menaced by large men" width="460" height="491" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>image by @ReeceWykes</span></span></span></p><p>Our freedom of information request was made to the Youth Justice Board. It refused disclosure on the grounds that children would develop countermeasures and adult prisoners would use the information to usurp prison officer control. We were told political prisoners and animal rights extremists might make use of the manual.</p><p> The Information Commissioner supported the Children’s Rights Alliance for England’s arguments for disclosure and ordered the Youth Justice Board to release the manual minus the redactions. The Youth Justice Board challenged this decision and the case was due to be heard at a tribunal. Days before the scheduled hearing, the Youth Justice Board contacted us to say it would hand over the full manual.</p><p>That was in July 2010, and a revised manual was subsequently published without any redactions on the Ministry of Justice’s website and placed in the House of Commons Library. We had received a hard copy of the manual before general publication, reviewed it with our lawyer and submitted our intent to legally challenge those aspects that we considered to be unlawful. In response, the Ministry of Justice amended the manual before making it widely available. </p> <h2><strong>Secrecy reinstated</strong></h2><p>Fast forward to July 2012, and the Ministry of Justice’s publication of a new manual of restraint techniques to be used in secure training centres and young offender institutions. Only the manual wasn’t published in full – <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715101921/http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/youth-justice/custody/mmpr/mmpr-vol5-physical-restraint.pdf">it contains 182 redactions</a>. The then Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke told the Commons:</p> <p>“<a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2012-07-10/debates/12071076000019/SecureTrainingCentresAndYoungOffenderInstitutions(PhysicalRestraint)#contribution-12071076000080">The new system is a major step forward in improving the way young people are safeguarded in the under-18 secure estate. A comprehensive programme of work has resulted in a new system of restraint that has been <strong>specifically designed for use on young people in custody</strong></a>.” [Emphasis added].</p><p> The new system is called Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR). It was developed in response to the independent restraint review. Given the desperately high level of need among child prisoners – <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585991/key-characteristics-of-admissions-april-2014-to-march-2016.pdf">one-third of children arrive into custody from the care system</a> – devising a new system of techniques and approaches to minimise restraint was always going to be a demanding task. But the restraint techniques weren’t formulated by experts in childhood trauma, disability and child mental health. The National Training Response Group – the “elite” squad which deals with prison disturbance and riots – was commissioned to develop the MMPR system. The officers and the equipment they use are shown here in a video published by The Sun newspaper in October 2017 under the headline&nbsp;<a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4640881/national-tactical-response-group-prison-riot-ntrg/">“Screw Dares Wins”</a>:</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XttSkGIsp54?rel=0" height="360" width="640"></iframe></p><p>An advisory group chaired by leading child psychiatrist Sue Bailey was asked to review the techniques: <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715100703/https://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/minimising-and-managing-physical-restraint">it reported that “the sole or primary purpose is the inducing of pain</a><a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715100703/https://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/minimising-and-managing-physical-restraint">”</a><a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715100703/https://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/minimising-and-managing-physical-restraint">&nbsp;in&nbsp;</a><a style="text-decoration: underline;" href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715100703/https://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/minimising-and-managing-physical-restraint">one-third of them</a>.&nbsp;A substantial number of organisations and bodies — including the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights and the UK’s four Children’s Commissioners — have urged the UK to stop allowing prison officers to deliberately inflict pain on children during restraint.</p> <p>Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons undertook a review of the new system, <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/Behaviour-management-and-restraint-Web-2015.pdf">publishing its findings in November 2015</a>. The then Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, explains in the report’s foreword the genesis of MMPR:</p> <p>“The introduction of MMPR was the culmination of a long process initiated following the deaths of two boys in 2004. Gareth Myatt died after he became unconscious during a restraint in an STC. ‘If you can talk, you can breathe’, an officer told him when he complained. It was not true. Adam Rickwood, aged 14, hung himself after a ‘pain compliance’ technique was applied to him. This was the ‘nose distraction technique’, a painful jab under the base of the nose.”</p><p>A successful legal challenge to a rule change on restraint was part of the “long process” the Chief Inspector of Prisons was no doubt referring to. It was during these proceedings that <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2008/882.html">Buxton LJ observed</a>:&nbsp;</p><p>“We were told that the hold used on Gareth Myatt was no longer approved; and that the nose distraction technique used on Adam Rickwood had also been withdrawn. I will be forgiven for wondering whether there are any other techniques awaiting withdrawal only when something goes wrong&nbsp;[73].”</p> <h2>Fight for transparency, 2012-</h2><p> On seeing the new manual had 182 redactions, I asked around to see if others might be pursuing disclosure. On finding there were no such plans, I made an FOI request myself. I had by now left the Children’s Rights Alliance for England and was preparing to write a book about the mistreatment of child prisoners.</p> <p>The Information Commissioner this time supported the Ministry of Justice’s arguments against disclosure. Even though these are virtually identical to the claims made by the Youth Justice Board a decade ago (the line about political prisoners and animal rights extremists has been dropped). </p> <p class="mag-quote-left">The Ministry of Justice offered no concrete evidence in support of its claim that disclosure would compromise security.</p><p>The Ministry of Justice offered no concrete evidence in support of its claim that disclosure would compromise security and endanger the health of children, staff and visitors. </p><p>It gave data on the frequency of restraint and asserted children in young offender institutions are larger and more prone to violence than in secure training centres (official statistics show restraint, assault and self-harm are more prevalent among younger children in custody). </p><p>It told the Information Commissioner that security had been compromised “due to prisoners already copying techniques learned from experience” though didn’t explain how removing the 182 redactions would make any difference to this.</p><p>The Ministry of Justice submitted no analysis of the impact of the full disclosure of restraint techniques used in G4S and Serco-run secure training centres. These had been in the public domain for a little under two years when I made my FOI request. <a href="https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/decision-notices/2009/504630/FS_50173181.pdf">Since the Youth Justice Board had years before argued the disclosure of that manual would jeopardise prison security and even endanger the health and safety of members of the public</a>, I had assumed the Ministry of Justice would be pressed to provide evidence of, or at least be made to reflect upon, the <em>actual</em> impact of transparency. This hasn’t happened.</p><p> The Ministry of Justice has consistently argued that the restraint techniques in the new manual are designed for children aged 12 to 17, and stresses the one released in 2010 was originally aimed at 12 to 14 year-olds. This is disingenuous: by the time the ‘old’ manual was published it had been revised a number of times and children older than 14 had been detained in secure training centres for many years (Gareth Myatt was aged 15). Moreover, a key part of the Ministry of Justice’s argument is that the new manual contains techniques that are the same or similar to those used in adult prisons. The first-tier tribunal found this to be “decisive” in its decision to maintain non-disclosure. </p> <p>Let’s recall the Secretary of State’s description of the new manual as being designed “specifically” for children. The redacted manual of techniques notes itself (page 9):</p> <p>“<a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715100703/https://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/minimising-and-managing-physical-restraint">The techniques contained within Volume 5 – Physical Restraint, have been designed for use on young people whose ages range from 12 – 17</a>.”</p> <p>Other FOI requests I have made subsequently, on behalf of Article 39 children’s rights charity, have revealed that the MMPR techniques have also been authorised for use on children restrained on aircraft during deportation. These are likely to be very young children. Escort officers taking children to/from secure children’s homes have also been trained to use the techniques: children in these circumstances can be as young as 10.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kidsangry.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kidsangry.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>image by @ReeceWykes</span></span></span></p><p> One of the strands of my appeal is that the best interests of children were not treated as a primary consideration by the Information Commissioner and the two tribunals which supported non-disclosure. Why should child protection be weakened because a set of restraint techniques said to have been devised especially for children turns out to be the same or similar to those used in adult prisons? There is <a href="http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2011/4.html">relevant case law</a> emphasising that children should not suffer detriment for the shortcomings of adults.</p><p> I have offered considerable evidence that disclosure is vital for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of very vulnerable children and protecting their human rights. I submitted detailed expert evidence from the NSPCC’s Chief Advisor on Child Protection, the then Chair of the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers and the then Chair of the Secure Accommodation Network. </p> <p>This evidence meticulously describes the extensive safeguards that have evolved over the past three decades to protect children in institutional settings. These safeguards depend upon openness and transparency. For example, after the death of Gareth Myatt the coroner conducting his inquest wrote to the then Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, urging that children’s own perspective on restraint be sought after each incident. This is in line with practice in social care and health settings. </p><p>The coroner’s recommendation led to the Youth Justice Board requiring prisons to conduct ‘debriefs’ with children, and it latterly extended the scope of independent advocates so they are proactively available to assist children post-restraint. While the redactions remain in place, advocates cannot answer the most basic question often asked by children: “Are they allowed to do that?”.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Restraint often heightens children’s anger, fear and frustration. They become more out of control.</p> <p class="p1">It is implausible that children will obtain, study, digest and be able to use the manual to thwart the use of physical restraint by a group of physically strong adults who are trained to apply techniques and who may well be wearing personal protective equipment. </p><p class="p1">I recall reading about the case of a child with learning disabilities restrained by prison officers for smashing up his cell furniture. The prison service review of this and five other incidents (where children suffered broken bones during restraint) notes the “back hammer” form of restraint was used (where a child’s wrists are ‘locked’ behind their back). This was found to be “inappropriate” and the review questioned whether sufficient effort had been made to de-escalate the situation. </p><p class="p1">Despite these concerns, officers were criticised for not wearing “Full Protective Equipment”. Such equipment includes a riot helmet, flame-retardant overalls, gloves, belt, side arm baton and holder, shin guards, elbow protectors, boots, flame-retardant balaclava and a shield cover.</p> <p>Assuming children had access to the full manual and have the interest, concentration and literacy levels to follow the detail — most have the reading age of a primary school child —how might they use it to subvert security? The use of force must be a last resort when alternative methods have failed. Children in these situations are invariably extremely distressed. Successive research into children’s experiences of restraint show that it often heightens their anger, fear and frustration. They become more out of control. These are not situations where children are acting calmly and rationally.</p><p> Another research finding is that children have clear, and frequently painful, memories of restraint. The experience of being restrained tells children about restraint.</p><p> It must be for adults in safeguarding roles — social workers, independent reviewing officers, advocates, complaints officers, monitors, inspectors for instance — to carefully consider the contents of the manual. Through this process, potential risks to individual children — I’m thinking here of those with medical conditions, disabled children, children who have been subject to physical and/or sexual violence in the past and pregnant girls — can be identified. When children make complaints about restraint (after the BBC Panorama exposé of serious alleged abuse in the G4S-run Medway secure training centre, the company disclosed 40 child protection allegations had been passed to the local authority during the previous year), the manual of techniques would be an essential reference document for investigators.</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fuckingdoorG4S.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="BBC Panorama &quot;Teenage Prison Abuse Exposed&quot; January 2016"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fuckingdoorG4S.jpg" alt="" title="BBC Panorama &quot;Teenage Prison Abuse Exposed&quot; January 2016" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>BBC Panorama "Teenage Prison Abuse Exposed" January 2016</span></span></span><br /> Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons made 10 recommendations after it reviewed the MMPR system. It said children must not be strip-searched under restraint (they still are) and pain-inducing techniques must not be used on children (they still are). Its last recommendation concerns monitoring. Local safeguarding children boards and councils were told to “ensure that they have sufficient expertise to enable effective independent oversight of restraint”. Effective independent oversight requires full knowledge of the techniques which have been approved for use on children, otherwise those monitoring are doing so with at least one eye closed.</p> <p>I have never opposed the use of physical restraint in childcare settings or penal custody, when it is used lawfully and in a manner which seeks to uphold the child’s dignity and rights. I understand there will be rare, extreme incidents where the deliberate infliction of pain could be legally justified. But my FOI case is not about the training officers have been given to deal with grave scenarios. There is another, separate training programme and set of personal safety techniques for that. Officers are allowed to use these when it is impossible to apply MMPR techniques.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>In secure children’s homes and mental health units there is a legal and professional expectation of transparency in restraint methods and partnership working with children, parents and carers. Keeping children (and their parents and carers) in ignorance of restraint techniques unless and until they are used on them or other children is anathema to good childcare practice. Should my case succeed, I hope age-appropriate information about restraint methods will be routinely shared with children during and after they arrive in custody, as part of their individual plans for dealing with distress and conflict. Applying these professional norms to the most closed and hidden of institutions would be a great act of child protection. It would also demonstrate that the state continues to remember and learn from the appalling deaths of Gareth and Adam.</p> <p><em>Carolyne’s case will be heard by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday 1 November. She writes in a personal capacity.</em></p><p><em><em>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/uk-charity-seeks-funds-to-challenge-use-of-painful-restraints-on-childre">UK charity seeks funds to challenge use of painful restraints on children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-s-rights-and-uk-general-election-2017">Children’s rights and the UK General Election 2017</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/england-s-bonfire-of-children-s-rights">England’s bonfire of children’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison">When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Mon, 30 Oct 2017 00:07:59 +0000 Carolyne Willow 114331 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UK charity seeks funds to challenge use of painful restraints on children https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/uk-charity-seeks-funds-to-challenge-use-of-painful-restraints-on-childre <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How can it be wrong to hurt vulnerable children <em>inside</em> a secure children’s home, but all right to inflict pain in transit?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**boy460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**boy460.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>image by @ReeceWykes</span></span></span></p><p>Some 200 of the most vulnerable children in England and Wales are held in secure children’s homes. The law prohibits staff from using pain-inducing restraint on children <em>inside</em> the <em>homes</em>. But <em>outside</em> the homes, on visits to court, hospital or a family funeral, pain-inducing restraint <em>is</em> permitted for those children who are remanded or sentenced. What’s more, children can be locked into a “waist restraint belt”. In relation to immigration deportation, the prisons inspectorate has warned the waist restraint belt can be used like a “body belt”,&nbsp; the most extreme form of restraint available in prison, and very rarely used.</p> <p>At the children’s rights charity Article 39, we aim to stop the authorisation of painful and unjustified restraint on vulnerable children. We’re <a href="https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/no-pain-restraint/">seeking funds to mount a legal challenge</a> against the Ministry of Justice. <span></span></p> <p>Secure children’s homes are not the same as child prisons. Of the 200 children in secure children’s homes, about half are placed there for their own welfare and half sent by criminal courts.</p><p> The needs and backgrounds of children sent by the two different routes are virtually identical.</p><p> <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585991/key-characteristics-of-admissions-april-2014-to-march-2016.pdf">Youth Justice Board data</a> shows that 40 per cent of children sent from criminal courts to secure children’s homes in 2014-16 were children in care. Nearly half (47%) were believed to have a learning disability or difficulty. The same proportion were said by council staff to be at risk of suicide or self-harm. And 17 per cent of the children were the subject of a local authority child protection plan, meaning action was already being taken to protect them from harm.</p> <p class="p1">By anyone’s standards, children in secure children’s homes are extremely vulnerable.</p><p><a class="mag-quote-right" href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/463220/Guide_to_Children_s_Home_Standards_inc_quality_standards_Version__1.17_FINAL.pdf">“Restraint that deliberately inflicts pain cannot be proportionate and should never be used on children in children’s homes.”</a></p><p class="p1">The security company GeoAmey holds the Ministry of Justice contract to escort remanded and sentenced children to and from secure children’s homes. GeoAmey has, <a href="https://www.geoamey.co.uk/services/youth-justice-board">“a fleet of 30 vehicles designed specifically for the transportation of children and young people”,</a> according to the company’s website.</p><p class="p1"> Last year, the Youth Justice Board revealed in its annual report that the behaviour management system devised for child prisons is now used by its <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/539930/Youth_Justice_Board_Annual_Report_and_Accounts__2015_to_2016.pdf">“secure escort contractor” taking children to and from secure children’s homes</a>. This system includes techniques that deliberately inflict pain on children. A new form of restraint equipment — the “waist restraint belt” — has been added for the purposes of escorting.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Inflicting pain during restraint is banned inside children’s homes. Statutory guidance states:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/463220/Guide_to_Children_s_Home_Standards_inc_quality_standards_Version__1.17_FINAL.pdf">“Restraint that deliberately inflicts pain cannot be proportionate and should never be used on children in children’s homes.”</a></p> <p>We wanted to know what the prison service’s independent medical advisor had told the government about the safety of restraint techniques used on detained children. </p> <p class="p1">The response to our freedom of information request last September explained that the medical advisor had graded use of the techniques in different scenarios for likelihood of harm, and for the level of seriousness of potential harm. </p> <p class="p1">Of 66 scenarios, 28 were rated as 2, on a scale of 1-5, for the risk of “death or permanent severe disability affecting everyday life”. If a child is subject to restraint with a “head hold”, the waist restraint belt carries this intolerable risk, we were told. Not surprisingly, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/543806/DSO_07-2016_Use_of_Restraints.pdf">the Home Office has banned the use of the waist restraint belt on pregnant detainees</a>.</p><p class="p1"> The Ministry of Justice told us at the same time that no child had suffered serious injury or breathing difficulties while under escort. But this doesn’t explain why the Ministry of Justice has authorised the use of pain during escort, when the Department for Education says such treatment can never be proportionate.</p><p class="p1"> There is also the question of when restraint can be lawfully used on vulnerable children. The law allows escort officers to restrain children for “good order and discipline”, even though similar statutory rules were <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2008/882.html">quashed by the Court of Appeal</a> in 2008 as a breach of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. Staff working in children’s homes are not permitted to restrain children to make them follow orders.</p><div><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Adam Rickwood"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD460.jpg" alt="" title="Adam Rickwood" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam Rickwood</span></span></span></div><p>The infliction of pain on children during restraint has proved lethal.</p><p class="p1"> Fourteen year-old Adam Rickwood was remanded to a secure training centre run by Serco in Durham. There were no custodial places to begin with, so Adam was looked after in a children’s home where he settled well. Once imprisoned, his mental health severely deteriorated. He threatened to take his own life and wrote to the judge pleading for bail. </p> <p class="p1">One Sunday, around a month after Adam arrived at the secure training centre, he was instructed to go to his cell because he had passed a note between two other children. The officer who read the note disapproved of its contents. Adam asked what he had done wrong and refused to leave the communal area. The restraint procedure was activated and four officers came running into the unit, grabbed hold of Adam and carried him, face down, into his cell. One of these four officers later conceded that Adam had been calm and had even tried to defuse the situation. </p> <p class="p1">Adam struggled against the unlawful assault and was inflicted with a “nose distraction”, a restraint technique transferred from adult prisons. Officers would apply an “upward strike” to a child’s nose with the intention of causing severe pain. Adam’s nose bled for around an hour and his requests to go to hospital for an X-ray were ignored. </p> <p class="p1">Hours later, Adam was found hanging in his cell.</p> <p>Adam left behind a note for his lawyer explaining he had asked officers what gave them the right to hit a child in the nose, and they said it was restraint. </p> <p>Adam died 13 years ago. </p> <p>Since then authoritative experts and NGOs have expressed opposition to this form of restraint. They include the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Human Rights Council, the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, the NSPCC and the UK’s four Children’s Commissioners.</p><p> Adam was not the only imprisoned child to die following restraint in 2004. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">Fifteen year-old Gareth Myatt</a> was in a secure training centre in Northamptonshire run by G4S. He refused to clean a sandwich toaster because other children had also used it.</p><p> Gareth was ordered to his cell. He complied. Officers followed him and started removing his few possessions, including a piece of paper that had his mother’s new mobile phone number on it. Gareth was said to have raised his fist at this point.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH_MYATT460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Gareth Myatt"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH_MYATT460.jpg" alt="" title="Gareth Myatt" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span></p> <p>An officer “enveloped” Gareth who weighed just 6½ stone and stood less than five feet tall. Three officers then forced Gareth into a sitting position and bent his upper body towards his thighs and knees. They ignored his cries that he couldn’t breathe.</p><p> The terrifying ordeal lasted for six or seven minutes before Gareth lost consciousness. </p> <p>This was his first time in custody. He had been sentenced on a Friday afternoon. By the following Monday evening he was dead.</p> <p>The inquests, litigation, reviews and investigations which followed the deaths of Gareth and Adam brought into public view the reality of widespread unlawful restraint. The prison service was contracted to come up with a new system of behaviour management and restraint, and this was launched in 2012. It is called “Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint” (MMPR).&nbsp;</p><p> One-third of the restraint techniques within the MMPR system rely on the deliberate infliction of pain. The “nose distraction” that devastated Adam was replaced by the “mandibular angle technique”. </p> <p>This involves officers applying pressure behind a child’s ear at the back of the jaw. We can try and piece together what is involved by reading the instructions to trainers that haven’t been redacted (crucial bits are blacked-out): </p> <p>The instructors are told: “Emphasise staff can use finger or knuckle dependent on length of finger nails.” And: “Apply pressure inward and forward at a 45 degree angle.” </p> <p>Last year BBC Panorama <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2016/jan/11/panorama-exposes-teenage-prison-abuse-video-extract">appeared to show a 14 year-old child, ‘Billy’, being subject to the mandibular angle technique</a> at Medway secure training centre, which was then run by G4S. (It was later transferred to the prison service). Billy tells the officer he can’t breathe. Panorama asked Dr Andrew McDonnell, a clinical psychologist with expertise in reducing the use of restraint, to view the video clip. He said what was done to Billy was “really dangerous”. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking_door_G4S460_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Screenshot, BBC Panorama, &#039;Teenage prison abuse exposed&#039;, January 2016"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking_door_G4S460_0.jpg" alt="" title="Screenshot, BBC Panorama, &#039;Teenage prison abuse exposed&#039;, January 2016" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot, BBC Panorama, 'Teenage prison abuse exposed', January 2016</span></span></span></p> <p>The mandibular angle technique features in the independent medical advisor’s assessment. When a child is standing (as Billy was) or being held down, this is also rated 2, on a scale of 1-5, for likelihood of causing death or permanent severe disability.</p><p> Adam and Gareth had both lived in children’s homes. Adam had hoped to move back to one. He kept his packed sports bag in the staff room so he could quickly leave the secure training centre once news of his bail arrived. He took his bag out of the staff room the day before he died, apparently resigned that a transfer to a children’s home was not going to happen.</p> <p>As well as prohibiting pain, children’s homes’ statutory guidance says: “Children in residential child care should be loved, happy, healthy, safe from harm and able to develop, thrive and fulfil their potential.” </p> <p>That statement is based upon centuries of learning about the needs of children, and conveys the respect we now give to children as human beings with dignity, feelings and rights. Our legal challenge seeks to uphold this commitment to children, from the moment they leave the court building. </p> <p>As a small charity, Article 39 does not have the funds to bring this vital case. We need at least £8,000 to cover our application for a costs-capping order and to pay for unavoidable court fees and charges. And so we’re asking for help. If you can, please back our CrowdJustice appeal <a href="https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/no-pain-restraint">here</a>, tell friends about our work, and share this link on social media. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light</a>&nbsp;at openDemocracy.</li><li>@CLARESAMBROOK</li><li>@SHINEreports</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/people-tied-up-like-animals-on-uk-deportation-flights">People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-s-rights-and-uk-general-election-2017">Children’s rights and the UK General Election 2017</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light openJustice Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Tue, 04 Jul 2017 12:15:47 +0000 Carolyne Willow 112071 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Children’s rights and the UK General Election 2017 https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-s-rights-and-uk-general-election-2017 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A leading advocate calls for an Act of Parliament to enshrine children’s rights in law.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/20141104_UNICEF_7222460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="©UnicefUK/Sutton-Hibbert All rights reserved"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/20141104_UNICEF_7222460.jpg" alt="" title="©UnicefUK/Sutton-Hibbert All rights reserved" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>©UnicefUK/Sutton-Hibbert All rights reserved</span></span></span></p><p>Whoever gets to form the next government has the opportunity to go down in history as the political party that introduced a law to promote and protect the rights of every child.<strong><br /> <br /> </strong>Nothing has stopped<strong> </strong>successive governments from doing this before, of course, but this is the first general election in which two of the three main political parties have pledged to enshrine in law the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Liberal Democrats first committed <a href="http://www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/ge10/man/parties/libdem_manifesto_2010.pdf">two general elections ago</a> to making this UN children’s rights treaty part of our domestic law. Now Labour has made <a href="http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017/leading-richer-lives">the same promise</a>. The Conservatives declared an open mind earlier this year.<br /> <br /> UK children’s rights advocates and civil servants helped draft the UN children’s rights treaty; it covers all aspects of childhood and guarantees every child a comprehensive set of economic, social, cultural and civil and political rights. <br /> <br /> Eleanor Roosevelt said human rights begin “in small places, close to home” and this is precisely where children need them most. Take children’s right to know their rights, contained in article 42 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Despite the UK ratifying the treaty in 1991, there has never been a public education campaign and it remains outside the national curriculum. </p> <p>More than&nbsp;4000 schools across the UK have teamed up with Unicef’s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.unicef.org.uk/rights-respecting-schools/">Rights Respecting Schools</a>&nbsp;Award, whose aim is to create safe and inspiring places to learn, where children’s rights are respected, their talents are nurtured and they are able to thrive.&nbsp;An independent evaluation found children were more likely to report abuse after hearing about their rights. A primary school manager told researchers: <br /> <br /> <a href="https://www.brighton.ac.uk/_pdf/research/education/rrsa-uk-evaluation-full-report.pdf">“We always get some disclosures when we talk about rights at the beginning of the school year. [Children] feel empowered enough to say and we have to follow them up, they feel empowered to tell someone and that is something that probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for this.”</a></p><p> My charity’s name, Article 39, is taken from the treaty; it’s the part that guarantees children who have been abused, neglected or exploited the right to recover in environments which nurture their health, self-respect and dignity. It requires governments to do everything possible to help children rebuild their lives and self-worth after rights violations. With central government funding to local councils for child protection services <a href="https://www.childrenengland.org.uk/dont-take-child-protection-for-granted">due to be axed from 2020</a>, a legal duty around recovery from trauma could literally be life-saving. It could make all the difference to young people forced out of children’s homes and foster care years before they are psychologically and emotionally ready.<br /> <br /> You would be right to retort that children have the Human Rights Act to protect them, like everyone else. This legislation has safeguarded children in countless ways: it led to the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/337568/iro_statutory_guidance_iros_and_las_march_2010_tagged.pdf">creation of independent reviewing officers</a> to monitor and protect the rights of individual children in care and care leavers; it helped ensure <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2005/634.html">children’s wishes and feelings are properly represented</a> in court proceedings held to decide with whom they should live after their parents’ separation; and <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2008/882.html">it brought an end to rules</a> which allowed prison officers to use force on children to make them obey orders. The Act protected young children and their pregnant mother from being <a href="http://www.bhattmurphy.co.uk/media/files/Chen_Order_interim_relief.pdf">unlawfully restrained during deportation</a>; it precipitated a change in the law so that <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2013/982.html">17 year-olds are given the same protection in police stations as other children</a>; and forced the scrapping of discriminatory rules that <a href="https://www.cafamily.org.uk/advice-and-support/money-benefits-work-and-childcare/benefits-and-tax-credits/payment-of-disability-living-allowance-for-a-child-in-hospital/">took benefits from very poorly children hospitalised for long periods</a>. </p> <p>The Human Rights Act is vital for people of all ages and absolutely must stay. But it only protects the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights and was not drafted specifically with children in mind. The UN children’s rights treaty was tailor-made to ensure children can lead happy, safe and fulfilled lives and, as with all human rights treaties, it is ever-evolving. Since the UN adopted the treaty in 1989 it has passed three protocols giving additional protection in the areas of sexual exploitation, armed conflict and the creation of an international complaints procedure (which the UK is yet to sign up to). </p> <p>The Labour Government’s 1997 White Paper on ‘bringing rights home’ — the precursor to the Human Rights Act — said: <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130814142233/http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/hoffice/rights/chap1.htm">“over the years [the ECHR] has become one of the premier agreements defining standards of behaviour across Europe”</a>. There is no doubting the Convention on the Rights of the Child is <em>the</em> premier children’s human rights agreement. It is the most widely ratified human rights treaty, with only one country (the USA) failing to take on its legal obligations. A Unicef <a href="https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/law_reform_crc_imp.pdf">review of 52 countries</a> published several years ago found two-thirds had made the Convention part of their domestic law. These manifesto commitments are entirely credible and based on years of evidence-gathering (see <a href="https://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforChildrensRights/filestore/Filetoupload,368351,en.pdf">research undertaken by Queen’s University Belfast</a>) and positive developments in Scotland and Wales.</p><div>Back in November 2009, Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Joan Walmsley introduced a <a href="http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2009-10/childrensrightshl.html">Children’s Rights Bill</a> which would have made the treaty part of our domestic law. The legislation has been in hibernation ever since, though the Peer’s attempt to introduce children’s rights duties for public authorities during the recent passage of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 had impressive backing, including from one of the lead campaigners for the Human Rights Act, Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC. Had the Bill gained government support, it would have required public authorities like schools, hospitals and children’s services to actively consider the treaty when carrying out their functions.</div> <p>The Convention gives children over 40 substantive rights; many of these relate directly to supporting parents and family life. Its four overarching principles grant children the right to enjoy all of their rights without any form of discrimination (article 2); require that children’s best interests are a primary consideration in all actions concerning them (article 3); provide that children have the right to maximum survival and development (article 6); and entitle children to have their views given due weight in all matters affecting them (article 12). If even these four provisions were legally enforceable for every child, how much easier would it be to advocate for and obtain essential services and support? </p><p>Directors of children’s services and councillors with lead responsibility for children’s services in England have been required to have <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/271429/directors_of_child_services_-_stat_guidance.pdf">regard to the treaty’s general principles</a> since 2012. More than a quarter of a century after we ratified, it’s time we moved from simply considering the treaty and gave it the full force of law.</p><p> During her latest attempt to secure children’s rights in law, Baroness Walmsley drew a parallel with the public sector equality duty in the Equality Act 2010, citing how this has made a tangible difference to many people’s lives. She concluded:<br /><a href="https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2016-11-08b.1082.2">“a culture of concern for equality issues has infiltrated public organisations. I would like to see a similar culture of concern infiltrate public organisations in relation to children’s rights.”</a></p> <p>In the same debate, Lord Hope of Craighead, a former member of the UK Supreme Court, described how judges grapple with cases concerning children’s rights by following the well-established legal principle “that when the United Kingdom has signed up to an international convention, it is to be presumed that this Parliament, when legislating, will legislate in accordance with what the convention provides”. </p> <p>Labour’s Shadow Children’s Minister Emma Lewell-Buck took up the children’s rights baton when the Children and Social Work Bill reached the Commons. The Ministerial response to her children’s rights duties’&nbsp;amendment indicated the boulder is at last nudging up the hill: Edward Timpson said in January he would <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-01-12/debates/2aea2b6d-772e-422b-aca4-19b18339bc91/ChildrenAndSocialWorkBill(Lords)(SeventhSitting)">“remain open-minded about the right way forward”.</a> </p> <p>One of the many strengths of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is that it demands action on child poverty and disadvantage. It contains rights which a country as rich as ours (using GDP as the measure, we have the <a href="https://fullfact.org/economy/uk-worlds-5th-or-9th-largest-economy/">fifth wealthiest economy</a> in the world) is comfortably able to uphold – the right to a standard of living which allows children to fulfil their human potential; the right to enjoy the best of health; and the right to social security and social insurance. Remember when the Supreme Court <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/18/uk-benefit-cap-is-lawful-supreme-court-rules">found that the benefit cap was lawful, but it breached the UN children’s rights treaty</a>? Had the Convention been enshrined in UK law, this breach would have also been unlawful and ministers would have been compelled to revisit the policy. </p> <p>We shouldn’t be fixated on the courtroom, however. The impact of the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act extend far beyond litigation, which takes us back to those small places, close to home. The core, universal obligation is that we respect and take care of each other in times of need. That we reach out on the basis of shared humanity and social justice, not charity or paternalism. Children are respected and gain the help they need &nbsp;because they are human beings with equal worth to adults, but also because they are precious. Additional human rights for children were borne out of their particular needs and vulnerabilities; their lack of status and powerlessness at an individual and structural level; and in recognition of the magnificent human potential existing in that space we call childhood.</p><p> Children feeling empowered, thriving, being listened to and accorded their due dignity wherever they happen to live — this is what making the Convention on the Rights of the Child part of UK law could achieve over time. As we continue to come to terms with the horrific scale and impact of child abuse, past and present, what greater message could we give to children about their integrity and worth than by consulting them and then passing an Act of Parliament devoted to protecting their rights?&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/england-s-bonfire-of-children-s-rights">England’s bonfire of children’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison">When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/child-was-held-for-staggering-151-days-in-men-s-immigration-l">Child was held for a staggering 151 days in men’s immigration lockup Morton Hall in Lincolnshire</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/england-s-bonfire-of-children-s-rights">England’s bonfire of children’s rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Tue, 06 Jun 2017 23:08:30 +0000 Carolyne Willow 111432 at https://www.opendemocracy.net England’s bonfire of children’s rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/england-s-bonfire-of-children-s-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new bill threatens decades of carefully drafted laws designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in care.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/MIRROR FRONT PAGE-14feb1945 CROP.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/MIRROR FRONT PAGE-14feb1945 CROP.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="296" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Daily Mirror front page 14 February 1945</span></span></span></p><p>Twelve year-old Dennis O’Neill was pronounced dead on the afternoon of 9 January 1945. A <a href="http://www.thetcj.org/child-care-history-policy/the-monckton-report-by-sir-william-monckton">public inquiry by Sir Walter Monckton</a> reported the coroner’s finding that the child had suffered “acute cardiac failure following violence applied to the front of his chest and back while in a state of under-nourishment”. </p><p>Dennis had been seen once in six months by a local authority clerk, who recorded after her visit that he looked ill and frightened and kept his eyes to the ground when answering questions. </p><p>The coroner criticised the lack of local authority supervision. Foster carers Reginald and Esther Gough were convicted of manslaughter and neglect respectively. Terence O’Neill, aged 11, told the court of the starvation and beatings he and his brother endured, and recounted how Dennis had sometimes been so desperately hungry he would suck milk from a cow’s teat when the Goughs weren’t looking. </p> <p>In 1946, rules were introduced requiring six-monthly reviews of children in foster care. The duty to monitor individual well-being and progress was later extended to those living in children’s homes, with the requirement to take into account the child’s views added in 1991. </p><p>After sustained judicial concern, Parliament passed legislation in 2002 to make local authorities appoint independent persons to lead the review process. Independent reviewing officers must be qualified and experienced social workers and their statutory role includes checking the local authority has informed the children they look after about their rights to make a complaint and access support from an advocate, and helping the child obtain legal advice; they are also duty-bound to consider referring a child’s case to Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) when a local authority is failing to meet its legal obligations.</p><h2>Bonfire of children’s rights</h2> <p>Now, decades of carefully drafted laws designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in care are under threat of demolition.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-public-bill-office/2016-17/compared-bills/Children-and-Social-Work-AAGC-tracked-changes-version.pdf">Children and Social Work Bill</a>, which reaches Report Stage in the Lords next month, contains an extreme measure to absolve local authorities of virtually all of their duties towards vulnerable children. More than 80 years of legislation is affected, encompassing child protection, family support and services to children in care, disabled children and care leavers.</p> <p>A fast-track procedure will enable local authorities, individuals appointed by ministers, and the education secretary herself, to seek exemptions from duties for up to six years. Parliament will have the chance to block orders, though constitutional convention means this is highly unlikely: the <a href="http://blog.hansardsociety.org.uk/delegated-legislation-frequently-asked-questions/">Hansard Society reports only 0.01 per cent of all statutory instruments have been rejected since 1965</a>. Exemption orders will apply to one or more councils, leading to the fragmentation of child welfare law for the first time. Children in neighbouring towns and cities will have different rights. Siblings placed apart could be subject to different legal protection.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/duty not put aside CROP_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/duty not put aside CROP_2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="223" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Daily Mirror, May 1945, quoting from the Monckton report</span></span></span></p> <p>No evidence has been offered to show that legislation stifles effective children’s services. On the contrary, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/535043/Childrens_services_spending_delivery_report_Aldaba_EIF_July_2016.pdf">research for the department for education</a>&nbsp; discovered, unsurprisingly, that statutory duties had helped to shield services in the face of severe government cuts.&nbsp;<span>The researchers wrote: “statutory responsibilities limited the choices that local councils had available to achieve savings”.</span></p> <p>Exemptions will test whether “better outcomes under children’s social care legislation” can be achieved, or the same results reached “more efficiently”.</p> <p>Isabelle Trowler, the country’s chief social worker for children and families, urges the bill’s many critics to <a href="http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1158130/adcs-conference-trowler-defends-social-work-bill-%E2%80%98exemption%E2%80%99-clause">“warm up a bit”</a> and claims “this is not some kind of sinister political plot to overthrow public authorities or a ruse to wipe out decades of children’s rights”. She’s avoided the head-scratching question, though, which is: how can legal duties work better for children when they no longer exist?</p> <p>Like Trowler, schools minister Lord Nash claims that independent reviewing officers are not necessary in every child’s case. <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2016-07-11/debates/1607127000561/ChildrenAndSocialWorkBill(HL)">The minister has gone so far as to state that only around 20 of 400 children looked after by North Yorkshire County Council “require regular in-depth reviews”.</a> Latest government statistics show that a third of children looked after by this council who completed a psychological well-being assessment were a cause for concern. That’s 74 children. Borderline scores were reached by a further 38. The <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2014-to-2015">official spreadsheets</a> reveal that 255 children are subject to full care orders, meaning a court in each case found the child had suffered (or was likely to suffer) significant harm. Every way you look, the proposition that 95 per cent of looked after children in this local authority can do without full reviews lacks credibility. </p> <p>The same civil servants who briefed the minister will presumably have responsibility for sifting exemption applications, should the legislation pass. They have not shown themselves to be rigorous.</p> <p>Schools were given the ‘power to innovate’ in 2002 but only 32 exemptions were made in seven years and 97 per cent of institutions managed without them. The department for education reflected some years later that schools <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/346932/Powers_to_Facilitate_Innovation-2006.pdf">“often discover that the Power is rarely needed as the necessary freedoms and flexibilities already exist”.</a> Legislation was not a barrier to creativity, after all.</p><h2>Deregulation without consultation</h2><p> Unlike exemptions from education law, the bill before parliament empowers Whitehall to spearhead social care deregulation, independent of the wishes of local communities, children’s services professionals or councillors. Individuals sent by ministers into struggling local authorities will be able to seek exemptions after consulting locally. No such consultation duties are ascribed to the secretary of state or her nominated person. The children’s commissioner for England and Ofsted’s chief inspector will be asked their views prior to the drafting of regulations removing duties, but without any power to halt the process and there is no requirement to publish their advice. </p> <p>Moreover, there is a large question mark hanging over the appropriateness of such a task for the children’s commissioner, whose <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/31/section/2">primary statutory function is to promote and protect children’s rights</a>.</p><p> Education exemptions may have proven to be unnecessary, but they were followed by Michael Gove’s free schools programme. Since legislation was passed in 2010 all schools in England can apply to become academies, which are independent of local authorities and receive their funding direct from central government. Weeks before Justine Greening MP was appointed new education secretary, her predecessor was forced to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36227570">backtrack on the government’s plan to compel every school in the country to become an academy by 2022</a>.</p> <p>A vision for children’s social care, published in July, declares the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/535732/Putting_Children_First_-_delivering_our_vision_for_excellent_children_s_social_care.pdf">government’s ambition that more than a third of local authorities will be delivering (or preparing to deliver) their children’s services through a trust or other legal entity by 2020</a>.</p> <p>Are children’s legal entitlements to care and protection collateral damage in an ideological project to remove children’s services from local council control? You don’t have to believe in sinister plots to ask this question.</p><h2>Who needs social workers?&nbsp;</h2><p> The level of risk involved in deregulating social care is exponentially higher than in education. It interferes with human rights in a way that tinkering with school rules doesn’t. The most frequent type of education exemption involved a slight modification to the school day. Deregulation plans being mooted in social care include withdrawing independent reviewing officers and disbanding panels that provide vital safeguards in fostering and adoption.</p> <p>There has even been the suggestion that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2016/jul/18/children-and-social-work-bill-workforce-services">children in foster care could manage without social workers</a>.</p> <p>The law as it stands requires that children who have lived in a foster home for 12 months or more can be visited by a social worker as little as twice a year, with the child’s agreement. This skeleton service was made possible through regulations introduced last year, which slashed the minimum number of yearly visits from four to two. Exemptions could reduce this to nil.</p><p> Andy Elvin, chief executive of TACT fostering and adoption charity, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2016/jul/18/children-and-social-work-bill-workforce-services">says he would like to pilot</a> children in long-term foster care not having their own social worker, when this accords with the child’s wishes.</p> <p>I spent 12 years working directly with children in care and the most common refrain about social workers was that they didn’t visit often enough. One girl persisted to the highest level of the council’s complaints procedure in order to have a female social worker. She told me she had lost trust in men after being raped in her family, so she hardly spoke to her male social worker. Eventually the local authority was forced to do the right thing. (In case you’re wondering, the right to make a complaint could be exempted too).
</p> <p>Allowing a competent child to decide not to have a social worker could be construed as progressive and respectful. But this presupposes social workers have the time and the inclination to be constantly visiting children who don’t need their help. This just doesn’t happen. Moreover, Elvin’s trial of a handful of children in an area not having their own social worker (foster carers would still have one) would be so dependent upon individual circumstances, that the results would not be transferable to the wider population of looked after children. </p><h2>We must do better</h2><p> Those children who have had very poor experiences of social workers may, understandably, want nothing more to do with them. We can, and must, do better for children in these situations. As Elvin’s charity states in its <a href="http://tactcare.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/TACT_children_guide_to_foster_care.pdf">guide for children</a>, social workers “make sure you are OK, so you should think of them as someone who is there to help you”. The charity’s <a href="https://www.tactcare.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/TACT_yp_guide.pdf">advice to young people</a> is: “Please let your social worker know if you think someone is taking away any of your rights”.<br /> <br /> Children may fear electing to hold onto their social worker will be perceived by carers as an act of disloyalty or ingratitude. A small number could be punished for such a decision. <a href="https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/evaluation-of-services/keeping-children-safe-report.pdf">Research undertaken for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children</a> found that each local authority in England has an average of three confirmed cases of child abuse in foster care every year, slightly higher than in residential care. </p><p>Post-Savile, we should be doing everything possible to safeguard children who, for whatever reason, find it difficult to speak out about abuse. Rather than stripping back the law, it would be in children’s interests to focus energies on developing the skills and approaches of social workers, so the minimum two visits a year are experienced as helpful and enjoyable by all children. Putting the onus on children to ‘choose’ whether or not to have this basic safeguard is a betrayal of adult responsibility.</p><p>So too is branding deregulation as innovation, and pretending vulnerable children will get more with less. Social care exemptions are a unilateral break with the postwar professional and political consensus that vulnerable children need the law behind them. They require us to abandon lessons learnt from past inquiries and investigations into institutional abuse and the necessity of robust, universal safeguards. In concluding his four-month inquiry into the death of Dennis O’Neill, Monckton observed: “the duty to be sure in the care of children must not be put aside&nbsp;however great may be the pressure of other burdens”.</p> <p>This radical legislation was drafted in haste, without public consultation or manifesto pledge.</p> <p>Article 39 is a small charity set up in 2015 to promote and protect the rights of children living in institutional settings. We have joined forces with nearly 40 leading organisations and individual experts to reject this part of the Bill, which is to be debated again in the Lords in October 2016. Then the legislation goes to the Commons, though officials are already assessing proposals for exemptions. Now is the time to voice concerns loudly and clearly. Education secretary Justine Greening, appointed in July 2016, had nothing to do with drafting this Bill. We have to hope she will very soon disown this part of it.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Carolyne Willow has created a 38 Degrees petition <a href="https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-the-rights-of-vulnerable-children-and-care-leavers?">here: Protect the rights of vulnerable children and care leavers</a>.<br /></em></p><p><em>Keep up-to-date on the Bill, and add your name to those opposing the exemption Clauses, via the ‘<a href="https://togetherforchildren.wordpress.com/">Together for Children’</a> site.</em></p><p><em>Find the Monckton Report in two parts <a href="https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/174364/response/444024/attach/3/Monckton%20Report%20Part%201%20of%202.pdf">here</a> and <a href="https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/174364/response/444024/attach/html/4/Monckton%20Report%20Part%202%20of%202.pdf.html">here</a>: <em>Report by Sir Walter Monckton KCMG KCVO MC KC on the circumstances which led to the boarding out of Dennis and Terence O’Neill at Bank Farm, Minsterly and the steps taken to supervise their welfare,</em>&nbsp;Home Office, May 1945.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison">When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Thu, 29 Sep 2016 07:48:36 +0000 Carolyne Willow 105591 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How many children are sexually abused in prison? https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In England nobody is counting. How official secrecy and obfuscation on sexual abuse, restraint and injury put children at risk. See also <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for-g4s-chil">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a>.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESE.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESE.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: Ministry of Justice: Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (2014/15)</span></span></span></p><p>A ground-breaking review of child abuse was published last month. It describes children being coerced, controlled, humiliated, intimidated, degraded and bullied. Children who complained of mistreatment were not believed because there was no CCTV evidence to back them up. Self-harming children were watched even when taking a shower or visiting the toilet. Punishments included banning children from eating in the dining room. This was the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/medway-improvement-board-report-and-moj-response-to-its-recommendations">report of the Medway Improvement Board</a>, established by justice minister Michael Gove in the wake of BBC Panorama’s programme, ‘<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06ymzly">Teenage Prison Abuse Exposed</a>’, about the G4S-run prison for 12 to 17 year-olds. </p> <p>The Improvement Board’s investigation is impressive on many counts, though what is striking is that this could have been a report about a school, a hospital or a children’s home, about your children or mine. The metanarratives of child prisoners being violent, damaged and out of control are to the margins of this report, and the dominant representations are of children in search of dignity, safety, fairness and adults they can trust. </p> <p>One young person told the board of an incident where a child who self-harmed “was left in his room with like nothing and he couldn’t speak English and he doesn’t know where his family are so he was just all alone with no-one and nothing”. The board observes the “irony that a young person being held in an STC [secure training centre] was able to articulate this concern, but that all of the professionals … did not seem to understand the impact of such a policy”.</p> <p>I am a children’s rights campaigner and registered social worker, with a long record of pressing for laws and polices that uphold the dignity and worth of children. Since I served on Lord Carlile’s independent inquiry into the use of physical restraint, solitary confinement and forcible strip searching of children in prisons, I have submitted several hundred freedom of information (FOI) requests on various aspects of child incarceration. </p><p>This is more than 11 years of politely asking public bodies to publish material the layperson might assume was already in the public domain. Information that would be useful to families, social workers and youth offending team workers visiting children in prison, to help raise awareness of the dangers and hopefully prompt safeguarding conversations that would otherwise not occur. Judges passing custodial sentences, and remanding to custody, could be reasonably expected, also, to keep abreast of what actually happens to children ‘sent down’. Then there are the wider goals of holding the powerful to account, and standing up for children.</p> <p>So I have asked about sexual assaults, strip-searching, self-harm, restraint injuries, abuse allegations, complaints, sackings, damages paid to child prisoners, and sought the publication of internal reports on children’s bones breaking during restraint. Every response is meant to be published on official websites (it’s not always); my book, <a href="https://policypress.co.uk/children-behind-bars"><em>Children behind bars</em></a>, organises the material into different chapters according to the harm caused to children.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/1.*ARM—THROAT.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/1.*ARM—THROAT.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: restraint of child at Rainsbrook secure training centre (2014/15 report)</span></span></span></p> <p>Each new response invariably elicits an emotional reaction. First, there is the upset that comes from imagining vulnerable children in situations of powerlessness and fear. Second, incredulity that we subject children to such treatment, and amazement too when I am told, frequently, that vital data is collected by nobody.</p> <p>Next comes dismay at the public servants who use their human ingenuity to maintain secrecy. Sometimes I feel sad, dumbfounded and disgusted all at once, like when I was sent data on sexual assaults in juvenile young offender institutions. I asked for the number of assaults between 2009 and 2013. The table provided, minus any actual figures, showed sexual assaults by child prisoners had occurred at least once every year, but the frequency was masked by asterisk marks. </p><p>The justification? Low numbers and fear of breaching data protection legislation, a reason I’ve been given many times before. Indeed, G4S invoked the same excuse when refusing the Youth Justice Board monitor at Medway unfettered access to CCTV footage, a position the Improvement Board inevitably found to be legally untenable.</p><div><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/4.*BREATHING DIFFICULTIES.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/4.*BREATHING DIFFICULTIES.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="122" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>BREATHING DIFFICULTIES: restraining children with asthma (2013/14 report)</span></span></span></div><p> <br /> Accessing sexual assaults data in respect of officers proved impossible, since I was told: “The assaults data does not specifically include a category for&nbsp;sexual assaults by staff on prisoners.”</p><p>Information about officers assaulting children was buried in the ‘other’ category and a single asterisk mark indicated at least one occurrence in 2010.</p><p>Presumably this was <a href="http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/prison_officer_jailed_over_inmate_abuse_1_296571">not the officer with a 30-year career in the prison service who sexually assaulted a boy “at every opportunity”</a> when the child was incarcerated at Warren Hill Young Offenders Institution, because these crimes occurred in 2008 (though the officer was jailed in 2010)? Did the incident occur at Downview women’s prison, I pondered, because separate FOIs had elicited at least one child had been sexually abused there? </p><p>What I could be sure of was that the one or more incidents in 2010 did not tally with the separate data I obtained from the prisons inspectorate. This revealed that children had told inspectors on 15 separate occasions they had been sexually abused by prison staff — these allegations were made in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/2.*OFF-CAMERA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/2.*OFF-CAMERA.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="157" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>OFF CAMERA: restraints carried out away from CCTV (2013/14 report)</span></span></span></p><p>In another FOI, which went to internal review (the process to follow when FOIs are refused), I was told six officers had been disciplined for an “inappropriate relationship with a prisoner/ex prisoner” in child prisons, in 2011/12 and 2012/13. </p><p>The Sexual Offences Act 2003 created a new offence of abuse of position of trust, so the prison service’s terminology is archaic.&nbsp;Even before 2003, you would be hard-pushed to find a childcare setting where a staff member having an “inappropriate relationship” with a child would be seen as anything other than sexual exploitation. </p><p>This appalling cloaking of abuse by the prison service will, I expect, be of great interest to the <a href="https://www.iicsa.org.uk">Goddard Inquiry</a> into institutions’ failure to protect children from sexual abuse. </p><p>That no single statutory body collates children’s complaints of abuse cannot, of course, wait for Dame Lowell Goddard’s conclusions in several years’ time. This must change immediately. &nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RAINSBROOK LONG.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RAINSBROOK LONG.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="724" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: Rainsbrook (2014/15 report)</span></span></span>Not all of the disclosures I have obtained would invite condemnation from human rights bodies or be of interest to undercover reporters. But they are unsettling. </p><p>Take the report I obtained from the Youth Justice Board, which was an independent review of food in young offender institutions for children aged 15 to 17. This revealed that five of nine child prisons didn’t have their own kitchen: food was prepared and transported from adjoining adult prisons. </p><p>How could it be possible, in 2013, for an institution looking after children 24 hours a day not to have a kitchen? That’s shocking to me.</p> <p>A visit to Serco-run Hassockfield secure training centre, in Durham, as a member of the Carlile Inquiry team, got me started on FOI requests. The centre director showed us a form on which custody officers recorded their use of “distractions” —&nbsp;the official euphemism for severe assaults to a child’s nose, ribs or thumb. </p><p>I thought we had uncovered a major abuse scandal, right there on our very first visit, until the director assured us these were, in fact, officially authorised restraint techniques. To be lawful, they could be applied only in extremely grave situations when no other intervention was possible. </p><p>My first FOI revealed these extreme, last resort techniques were used 768 times in a single year in four secure training centres. They were routine, in other words. <br /> <br /> Three years passed before the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), the charity I then ran, achieved full disclosure of the training manual which showed many other violent restraint methods. One of the reasons given by the Youth Justice Board against publication was that animal rights activists and political extremists could get hold of the manual, and develop restraint countermeasures. </p> <p>Really? </p> <p>The Information Commissioner’s Office ordered full disclosure, but the Youth Justice Board appealed. A few days before the tribunal hearing, we got a call to say the manual would be published, after all. It was uploaded onto the <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20101016193540/http://www.justice.gov.uk/">Ministry of Justice website in October 2010</a>. </p><p>Then, in July 2012, a new system of behaviour management in child prisons, called Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR), was launched. The manual containing the MMPR restraint techniques has 182 redactions. </p><p>By this time, I had left CRAE and was researching <em>Children behind bars</em>. I requested full disclosure of the techniques and, nearly four years later, I am presently seeking leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal. </p><p>The same assertions made between 2007 and 2010 — that prisoners would use the information to subvert restraint and therefore prison security — have been recycled by the Ministry of Justice. This is despite former Labour ministers accepting <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/347262/Government_Response_to_Use_of_Restraint_in_Juvenile_Secure_Settings.pdf">the recommendation that children, parents and carers be informed of restraint methods (rec 43, page 15)</a>, made by the independent review it established after the restraint-related deaths of two children.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTIONSSERIOUSINJURY_1.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTIONSSERIOUSINJURY_1.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="186" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: serious injuries (2014/15 report)</span></span></span></p><p>My legal representation is pro bono to date and I pay all of my own travel and other expenses. The taxpayer fully funds the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Ministry of Justice. There has never been any answer to my argument that statutory safeguarding bodies and professionals cannot effectively monitor the use of restraint, or investigate children’s complaints, without knowledge of the official techniques.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3.A.*WARNING SIGNS 2014-2015 (16dec2015) copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3.A.*WARNING SIGNS 2014-2015 (16dec2015) copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="262" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: warning signs (2014/15 report)</span></span></span>Prisons are required to report to a national team restraints that cause children to lose consciousness, struggle to breathe, vomit and suffer other symptoms of asphyxiation, or be seriously injured. In May 2015, I requested the two annual reports that had been compiled to date. The&nbsp;Ministry of Justice&nbsp;released the first report but said the 2014/15 one would be finalised in July, so I made a second request in August. It was still not ready, so I asked again in November. </p><p>The following month, a heavily redacted report arrived in my inbox. Who, I wonder, was given the task of blanking out virtually every reference to child harm?&nbsp;The official excuse for this obfuscation was that the Youth Justice Board planned to publish the statistics at the end of January 2016.</p><p> But, to my frustration, when the annual youth justice statistics were released on 28 January they didn’t contain the anticipated data. Only a limited number of restraint injuries were included; statistics about children’s breathing being compromised were absent altogether. My request to the ministry for an internal review was met with silence, so I complained to the&nbsp;Information Commissioner’s Office.&nbsp;I received the report in April 2016, 11 months after the first request. The date on the front cover, June 2015, proved it had been finalised at the time of my second request. </p><p>A covering letter claimed the data had been incorporated into the routinely published annual statistics. This was simply untrue: these figures have never included warning signs, and restraint injuries only become candidates for routine publication if children were taken to hospital or received medical treatment within the prison. </p><p>When children are injured during restraint but receive no medical intervention, these incidents are kept from the official statistics. This is why the Observer newspaper was able to report <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/13/young-offenders-institution-restraint-injuries">in February</a> that the&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;had omitted 3,312 child restraint injuries from its published figures between 2010 and 2014. </p><p>The incident in G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre, <a href="http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/secure-training-centre-reports/rainsbrook/Rainsbrook%20STC%20Ofsted%20report%20February%202015%20%28PDF%29.pdf">discovered by inspectors in February 2015</a>, when a child with a fractured wrist caused by restraint was left for 15 hours before being taken to hospital, comes to mind.</p><div><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESCROP1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/REDACTEDIMAGESCROP1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="270" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>CENSORED: Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (2014/15)</span></span></span></div><p> The report eventually released to me shows there were 65 serious restraint incidents in 2014/15, with 71 warning signs and symptoms, a 31% increase on the previous year (with the same number of prisons). There were 37 incidents when a child had difficulty breathing or complained&nbsp; of being unable to breathe in 2014/15; 4 serious physical injuries; 6 incidents when a child vomited whilst kept under restraint; 8 incidents when restraint led to a petechial rash (haemorrhage); 11 incidents when a child lost consciousness or suffered reduced consciousness; and 5 incidents listed as ‘other’.</p><p>The Guardian newspaper published the data under the headline, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/may/05/restraint-injuries-youth-jails-rainsbrook-gareth-myatt">‘Restraint injuries persist at youth jail where boy died 12 years ago’</a>, referring to the restraint death of 15 year-old Gareth Myatt in G4S-run Rainsbrook. A week after this newspaper coverage, the prisons minister, Andrew Selous, said this in <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-01-18/22857/">answer to a parliamentary question</a> tabled four months before:<br /> <br /> <em>“Since the SIWS [serious incidents and warning signs] system has only been rolled out in a few institutions gradually, this is not currently routinely published but we are considering the routine publication of all SIWS data in the future.”</em></p><p>That the government is now “considering” regular release of the data shows the value of persistence. It also screams institutional inertia — still <em>thinking</em> about routine publication after 11 months of FOI to-ing and fro-ing, parliamentary prodding and a Panorama programme which shocked the nation? </p><p>Transparency is a critical child protection tool because it allows circuits of collusion (conscious and unconscious) to be broken. The greater the secrecy, the more children are at risk. </p><p>I felt tearful turning the pages of the Medway Improvement Board’s report. This is the first official document, out of the many hundreds I’ve read, where child prisoners are discussed as if they really are children, with the same fundamental rights as those enjoying life in the community. The report firmly rejects the received wisdom that punishment and subjugation bring about change; and it truthfully and skillfully lays bare the failures of adults. With not a single redacted word.</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><h2>Note:</h2><li>The top image is a composite, comprising 3 redactions. All other images show text and redactions from:</li><li>Ministry of Justice National Offender Management Service documents: Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR)</li><li>Annual Report on Serious Injuries and Warning Signs and Medical Exceptions Report.</li></ul><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison">When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/children-in-trouble-punishment-or-welfare">Children in trouble: punishment or welfare?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/rotherham-s-sex-abuse-scandal-reveals-failure-at-heart-of-government">Rotherham’s sex abuse scandal reveals failure at the heart of government</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Thu, 09 Jun 2016 11:15:17 +0000 Carolyne Willow 102632 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Children tell inspectors of being verbally, physically and sexually abused. See also <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo usedJUNE2006.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G4S logo usedJUNE2006.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="292" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Yesterday Kent police investigating alleged abuse at Medway child prison, run by G4S, <a href="http://www.maidstoneandmedwaynews.co.uk/G4s-arrests-detained-reports-abuse-youth-centre/story-29375708-detail/story.html">made five more arrests</a>. The same day a <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/inspections/hmyoi-parc-juvenile-unit-2/">report by prisons inspectors</a> revealed that a child at another G4S prison, Parc, in Bridgend, Wales, had been strip searched while held under restraint, one guard had been dismissed for using “excessive force”, and children reported being verbally, physically and sexually abused.</p> <p>G4S-run Medway secure training centre has been under close scrutiny since <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35287765">BBC Panorama broadcast undercover footage</a>, in January, of children there being subject to physical and emotional abuse. This latest inspection report concerns the juvenile unit of an adult prison run by the same company. Inspectors visited the prison on the day of the Panorama programme, and stayed for 11 days.&nbsp;</p> <p>Use of force by prison officers had tripled in Parc’s juvenile unit since the last inspection — there were 202 incidents in the previous six months, compared to 67 last time. In every incident, officers from the adjoining adult prison were called to carry out the restraint. Inspectors complain that the officers do not know the children. They would not have been recruited for their expertise in working with children either.</p><p> Inspectors found a case where a child had been strip-searched whilst held under restraint — again, this would have been by officers working in the adult parts of the prison. “Pain compliant locks” were used on children: the prisons inspectorate, alongside many other bodies, including the UN Committee Against Torture, has repeatedly said the deliberate infliction of pain should not be permitted in children’s prisons. One officer had been dismissed shortly before the announced inspection, for using “excessive force” on a child.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4SPANORAMA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking doorG4SPANORAMA.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'All I asked you to do was clean this fucking door and you aint!' G4S Medway officer to boy, age 14 (BBC Panorama)</span></span></span></p><p>Some boys complained of officers restraining them away from CCTV, which has been reported by children across the secure estate for many years. After the G4S Medway child abuse scandal, the Youth Justice Board introduced body-worn cameras into all child prisons. Inspectors complain that there were not enough of them to ensure all incidents were captured. More evidence of the irrepressible penal culture. <br /> <br /> About half the boys in this juvenile prison were looked after children, underlining the revolving door between care and custody highlighted powerfully by the <a href="http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/ProjectsResearch/CareReview">Laming Review</a>. Inspectors report: “Many boys had low levels of education and presented with clear difficulties in expressing their anxieties and problems; this was often characterised by angry outbursts or self isolation.” Prison cannot provide these children with the skilled intervention they need. </p> <p>Three boys were refusing to come out of their cells because they were so frightened, and 7 boys (a quarter of those questioned) told inspectors they felt unsafe everywhere.&nbsp;</p><p> Eight children told inspectors they had been verbally insulted by officers, and there was one report each of physical abuse and sexual abuse by staff. Seven children said they had suffered physical abuse by other children.</p> <p>Where is that government intolerance of poorly performing children’s services, when you need it?</p><p>At the end of February, G4S announced it would be selling its children’s services, including its government contracts to run Oakhill and Medway secure training centres.</p> <p>Today’s inspection report is a reminder that the multinational has not completely surrendered looking after UK child prisoners. For it is not G4S Children’s Services that manages this contract, but G4S Central Government Services.&nbsp;</p><p> At the last inspection, in May 2014, the company was handed 31 recommendations and 7 of these had been achieved by the time inspectors visited again in January 2016. More than half (58%) had not been achieved at all. Only one of four recommendations in respect of children’s safety had been achieved.</p><p> As child prisons go, this inspection report delivers some positive news. Children are eating together in dining areas, they get some (limited) time in the fresh air each day, most are able to shower daily, they have telephones in their cells (though calls are expensive) and there are good quality educational resources. But this cannot detract from the prison environment and ethos, and the consequences for children’s safety and well-being.</p><p>Inspectors praised the “newly refurbished and restocked” prison library, which has “a good stock of easy readers, books based on popular films and games”. The report from Charlie Taylor’s <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-the-youth-justice-system">Youth Justice Review</a> is due to be published next month. A teacher by trade, Taylor is sure to see the absurdity of buying in easy reader books whilst holding children in locked cells for hours at a time, keeping them in permanent states of fear and delegating control and discipline to prison officers working with adults.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Thu, 09 Jun 2016 07:43:53 +0000 Carolyne Willow 102829 at https://www.opendemocracy.net When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>New research adds to weight of evidence in the UK that looked after children are being criminalised.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE: REECE WYKES</span></span></span></p> <p>One late summer afternoon I received a telephone call from a residential worker in a children’s home. They had a problem. A child had climbed onto the roof of the large Victorian house and was refusing to come down. He told staff he wanted to talk to me, his children’s rights officer. I agreed to come straightaway. It was a 10 minute drive. </p><p>As I approached the home, I could see several staff members with heads tilted backwards, looking up at the child and pleading with him to come down. He wouldn’t budge. What got him down from the roof was my offer to talk in private, away from the growing crowd below.</p> <p>Not all situations will be resolved so smoothly, of course, but this example highlights the strength of de-escalation which puts the child at the centre. </p> <p>The staff at this home could have very easily ignored the boy’s request. Or called the police (or the fire brigade). They could have threatened to punish him if he didn’t come down. </p> <p>They did none of these things. I cannot remember exactly why he was so angry but an injustice had occurred, for sure. Talking it through with someone ‘on his side’ helped this vulnerable boy get back on track. The ‘crisis’ was averted with his dignity intact.</p> <p>This happened more than 20 years ago.</p><p>Last week’s report from the Howard League for Penal Reform, called <a href="http://www.howardleague.org/fileadmin/howard_league/user/pdf/Publications/Criminal_Care.pdf">‘Criminal Care’</a>, reveals that police attended children’s homes in 17 areas in England and Wales more than 29,000 times in the past three years. That’s an astonishing figure since there are fewer than 6,000 children living in such accommodation. Yearly increases were noted by 9 of the 17 police forces. Unable to identify individual children’s homes (these are not published by inspectorates, to protect children’s privacy), the Howard League was able to research private providers who, in any case, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/388701/Childrens_Homes_data_pack_Dec_2014.pdf">run two-thirds of children’s homes</a>.</p> <p class="Default">Police forces told the Howard League that private companies use police cells as “respite to cover staff shortages” and to deal with situations that their own staff have neither the training nor the expertise to manage.</p> <p class="Default">The charity found that five companies running 84 children’s homes called the police 812 times in 2015. </p> <p class="Default">Children living in these homes were more likely to see a police officer standing at their front door, than an inspector: on average, the police were called to each home 10 times across a 12 month period, whereas inspections are conducted twice a year.</p><p class="Default"> The Howard League found that for-profit children’s homes often refuse to take children back into their care, so children are effectively being abandoned by the care system. Intolerably, the charity reports “a perception by police that vulnerable children would be better cared for in cells”. </p> <p class="Default">Local authorities, too, are failing to give support to vulnerable children, in breach of their statutory duties.</p> <p>For many years, there has been convincing evidence of the ‘criminogenic’ effects of children’s homes. There’s the influence of peer groups, and institutional responses to the kind of behaviour that within families would be challenging and difficult but rarely a matter for the police.</p> <p>One <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471984566.html">study of 48 children’s homes</a> found that 40% of children staying in a home for six months got a criminal record. More than a decade ago, an initiative in Wiltshire involved social services and police working together to achieve a remarkable reduction in looked after children’s contact with the criminal justice system. <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmchilsch/111/111ii.pdf">In 2001, 184 offences by children in care were recorded in that area; by 2004, this had reduced to 22</a>. </p> <p>The Crown Prosecution Service <a href="http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/v_to_z/youth_offenders/#a21">urges prosecutors to be cautious</a> when dealing with children in care, observing, “the police are more likely to be called to a children's home than a domestic setting to deal with an incident of offending behaviour by an adolescent”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*sunlight_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*sunlight_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="443" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>IMAGE: REECE WYKES</span></span></span></p> <p>The message may be getting through: <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/outcomes-for-children-looked-after-by-local-authorities">official data</a> shows a decrease in the proportion of children in care (those living in children’s homes and other types of placement) being convicted or subject to a final warning or reprimand. In 2012, 6.9% of looked after children were punished by the criminal justice system; this had decreased to 5.6% in 2014.</p> <p>But this was still more than 2,000 children, and most would have endured abuse, neglect, profound loss, poverty and stigma before ever setting foot in a children’s home or foster care. </p> <p>Moreover, the figures relate only to children in care for 12 months or more; other government data shows a much higher offending rate for children living in children’s homes for six months or less. </p> <p>The statistics do not indicate a straightforward causation between care and offending, though, as many children will have committed crimes prior to becoming ‘looked after’ (the official term for children in care).</p> <p>Arrests, court hearings and state sanctions set children who feel different already even further away from their peers; they heighten anxiety and diminish opportunities, now and in the future. They are polar opposites to ‘care’, in other words. <br /> <br /> The Laming Review, established by the Prison Reform Trust, has been investigating the links between the care and criminal justice systems since last summer, and is due to report its findings soon. Its <a href="http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/2%20Care%20review%20public%20briefing.pdf">background briefing</a> rightly asks how come 1% of children in England and Wales are looked after by the state, but a third of boys and 61% of girls in custody have been in care. Even more devastating is the fact that at least <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/362715/deaths-children-in-custody.pdf">69% of the children who died in prison between 2000 and 2012 had been subject to care orders</a>.<br /> <br /> Since the residential care abuse inquiries of the 1990s, local authorities have largely stopped running their own children’s homes. Sir Martin Narey was given the task of <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/childrens-residential-care-review-to-transform-lives">reviewing residential care</a> last autumn, “to help put an end to a life of disadvantage for some of the most vulnerable children in care”. After a long career in the prison service, Narey was Barnardo’s chief executive for several years, and has since undertaken a variety of government roles concerned with children’s social care. He attracted controversy last year after publishing a favourable review of G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre, contradicting the findings and conclusions of three inspectorates. On becoming a &nbsp;Board member of the Ministry of Justice, Narey <a href="http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/education-committee/narey-review-of-childrens-residential-care/oral/27911.html">“severed [his] relationship with G4S”</a>. </p> <p>It will be interesting to hear whether he has found any deficits in the private sector model in respect of children’s homes, such as staff and managers not being able to draw upon the expertise and experience of colleagues in a larger organisation, lack of accountability and shareholder profits diminishing resources available for children. Any lessons from his review will be pertinent to government plans to close child prisons and establish <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/review-of-the-youth-justice-system">secure free schools</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Much of the media reporting of the Howard League’s work has cited the incident of the police being called out to a children’s home after a child broke a cup. This was first <a href="http://www.thelancasterandmorecambecitizen.co.uk/news/9451477.Lancashire_runaway_children_costing_police_and_taxpayers___5m/">reported four years ago</a>, following a review by Lancashire County Council; it was then picked up by the House of Commons <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmjust/339/339.pdf">Justice Committee’s inquiry into youth justice in 2013</a>. It’s an enduring example, because we can all agree staff in the home must have overreacted. The ‘if this was my child’ rule can be applied easily. In many respects, however, children living in children’s homes are extraordinary – in how they cope with the challenges in their own lives as well as the demands of group living, and in the compassion and understanding they offer to others.<br /> <br /> Many years ago I had the pleasure of supporting a group of young people living in children’s homes to perform to a national conference of social services directors. The majority of the children were boys who regularly offended. They were lively, funny and kind. One boy couldn’t read so the others recorded the play, which they had created together, onto a cassette tape which he could then play over and over on his Walkman whilst working his shifts on a market stall. The home’s manager had unsuccessfully tried to block the trip, on account of the boys’ criminal behaviour. He didn’t bear a grudge, however, and made sure they all had smart clothes to wear. </p><p>When we returned to the home, the boys were able to tell the manager, and the other staff eagerly awaiting their news, that the conference had been a great success. Most pleasing of all for them to recount was the hotel manager’s request on the morning of our departure to speak with the boys. He wanted to personally thank them for tidying their rooms before they handed back their keys. In all of his career, never before had he witnessed such respect for hotel property. </p><p>Frances Crook, the Howard League’s chief executive, says in the <a href="http://www.howardleague.org/criminalcare/">press release</a> accompanying the charity’s report that children in children’s homes are “wonderful young people who have had a really bad start in life. They deserve every chance to flourish”. Yes they do and, what’s more, children living away from their families have a comprehensive set of rights in domestic and international law to enjoy the best of care and protection. Doing away with punishment&nbsp;would help.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>Carolyne Willow’s book&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a>&nbsp;can be purchased from Policy Press&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">here</a>&nbsp;(£12.99&nbsp;plus £2.75 postage and packing).</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/concealment-and-trickery-thats-g4s-childrens-homes">Concealment and trickery - that&#039;s G4S children&#039;s homes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Mon, 04 Apr 2016 23:00:30 +0000 Carolyne Willow 101106 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The world's largest security company shows how to undermine&nbsp;a rigorous and shocking account of racism and degrading treatment at a child prison.&nbsp;</span></li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/nareyG4SwillowJULY201.7.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/nareyG4SwillowJULY201.7.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="255" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>inset: Sir Martin Narey</span></span></span></p><p>If you were choosing a school for your child, or a nursing home for a parent with complex needs, at what point would you put an establishment on the ‘over my dead body’ pile? </p> <p>An appalling inspection report, published just two months ago? Ten members of staff dismissed within a 13-month period? Racism and illegal drug taking among staff? </p> <p>How about degrading treatment, or a person with a fractured wrist being denied hospital treatment for 15 hours? </p> <p>What if you heard that a very vulnerable individual had been <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">fatally restrained in the establishment in 2004</a>, his cries that he couldn’t breathe ignored by the staff holding him down? That staff were found to have nicknames like Clubber, Crusher and Mauler? Or that, five years ago, a manager was <a href="http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/local/institute-staff-member-dragged-teen-to-cell-1-898855">convicted of actual bodily harm</a> against a person in his care?</p> <p>Would you send your child or parent to a place like this?</p> <p>Sir Martin Narey says he would:&nbsp;“My test in visiting places of custody for over thirty years is to reflect about how I’d feel if my son or daughter were incarcerated there. In Rainsbrook’s case, I would consider him or her to be safe and to be generally well treated,” he writes, in a report that is being promoted as “independent” by the Youth Justice Board.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Review by former chief executive of&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/barnardos">@barnardos</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/martinnarey">@martinnarey</a>, finds Rainsbrook STC is a safe place for children&nbsp;<a href="http://t.co/teK366Q4D7">http://t.co/teK366Q4D7</a></p>— G4S UK (@G4S_UK)&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/G4S_UK/status/625991360160641024">July 28, 2015</a></blockquote><p></p><p><span>Rainsbrook secure training centre, in Northamptonshire, holds boys and girls aged 12 to 18. It is run for the government by the international security company G4S. The children’s charity Barnardo’s is contracted to provide the children with independent advocacy.</span></p> <p>Narey started his prison governor training in 1982 and was director-general of the prison service between 1998 and 2003. He was chief executive of Barnardo’s until 2011, after which he became the government’s ‘adoption tsar’ and now advises ministers on the education and training of children’s social workers. He has “offered occasional advice to G4S” on the care and custody of children since 2012.</p> <h2>“Completely unacceptable”</h2><p><span>In May, a </span><a href="http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/secure-training-centre-reports/rainsbrook/Rainsbrook%20STC%20Ofsted%20report%20February%202015%20%28PDF%29.pdf">joint report</a><span> from Ofsted, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission judged G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre to be inadequate in keeping children safe. “Inadequate” is the lowest possible rating.</span></p> <p>There were 77 children detained at the time of the inspection. Details of 54 of the children show 17 per cent were disabled, 57 per cent had been in local authority care and a quarter were aged 15 or under.&nbsp;</p><p class="Default"> The inspectors found that, since their last visit, there had been “serious incidents of gross misconduct by staff, including some who were in positions of leadership”.&nbsp;</p><p class="Default"><span>“Poor staff behaviour has led to some young people being subject to degrading treatment, racist comments, and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs,” the inspectors said. Staff collusion with children, and other misconduct, had caused children “distress and humiliation”.</span></p> <p>In two of the eight incidents of “serious staff misconduct” examined by inspectors, there was a delay in G4S action to protect children and, by the time of the inspection, there had been no review to analyse why such incidents had occurred and to explain the absence of whistleblowing.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Rainsbrook2015.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Rainsbrook2015.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="240" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (from G4S promotional video)</span></span></span></p><p><span>G4S issued a </span><a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2015/05/20/G4S%20responds%20to%20Rainsbrook%20OFSTED%20report/">press release</a><span> on the day the report was published, in which director of children’s services Paul Cook described the report as “extremely disappointing” whilst admitting that the misconduct was “completely unacceptable”. In the weeks that followed, many local authority youth offending teams </span><a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2015/07/24/Rainsbrook/">refused to have their children held in Rainsbrook</a><span>.</span></p><h2>“I do not believe that”</h2> <p>Last week, on Tuesday 28 July, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sir-martin-narey-publishes-new-report-on-rainsbrook-stc">announced on its website</a>: “An independent report on Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC) by Sir Martin Narey has been published today”. Narey “clearly states that, in his view, Rainsbrook is a safe place for children and young people, they are treated kindly and, with many of them, tangible progress is made towards their rehabilitation”, its press release explained. It continues: </p> <p>“The YJB continues to work closely with G4S to ensure that the improvements recommended by the inspectorates are acted upon. We hope that an early re-inspection of Rainsbrook will be possible and will also confirm progress made.”</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">YJB CEO Lin Hinnigan's statement on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/martinnarey">@martinnarey</a>&nbsp;report on Rainsbrook STC: 'Rainsbrook is a safe place for children'&nbsp;<a href="http://t.co/KCvc6eiu81">http://t.co/KCvc6eiu81</a></p>— Youth Justice Board (@_YJB)&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/_YJB/status/625990015986888704">July 28, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>At the same time, <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/en-GB/Media%20Centre/News/2015/07/28/Review%20of%20Rainsbrook%20published/">G4S announced</a>: “A <a href="http://www.slideshare.net/martinnarey/rainsbrook-report-for-publication">new assessment</a><span>&nbsp;</span>of performance at the Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre for young offenders has found that the centre is not an unsafe place for children.” &nbsp;</p> <p>But the ‘news’ was not only that Rainsbrook had been given the all-clear by Narey, two months <em>after</em> the dreadful inspection report; it was also that, in Narey’s opinion, the prison had been safe when the inspectors said it wasn’t.<br /> <br /> The G4S press release quoted from Narey’s report: “The inspectorate conclusion was that in February of this year, at the time of the inspection, Rainsbrook was an inadequate institution and an unsafe place for children.&nbsp;I do not believe that.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rainsbrook-secure.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rainsbrook-secure.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="337" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (not from G4S promotional video)</span></span></span></p><p>Narey reports that the inadequate rating has had a “profound” effect on Rainsbrook’s staff, and that “Understandably, the publicity seems adversely to have affected recruitment .. (a Google search for Rainsbrook produces extremely negative results).” He observed a recruitment day when only two of eight shortlisted candidates (“including some employed from the Prison Service”) turned up.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br />Local authorities refusing to have their children placed at the centre was “not unreasonable”, Narey says, given “the extensive news coverage.” (The inspectors’ damning findings had been reported by the BBC, ITV, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Independent and&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-‘degrading-treatment’-by-guards-high-on-">openDemocracy</a>.)</p><h2>“Free, unfettered access”</h2><p>The G4S press release states: “During his three-day visit to Rainsbrook. . . Sir Martin was both unsupervised and unaccompanied. He was not constrained by terms of reference and had free and unfettered access to the centre, the staff and the children.”</p><p><span><span>Narey’s report indicates that he looked through the file of at least one child formerly detained in the prison, watched CCTV footage of children being restrained and was briefed about the crimes that brought individual children to the centre (he reports the serious crimes of seven children).</span></span></p><p><span>According to </span><a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1998/472/article/42/made">statutory rules</a><span>: “No outside person shall be permitted to view a centre unless authorised by statute or the Secretary of State.” And: “No person viewing a centre shall be permitted to take a photograph, make a sketch or communicate with a trainee unless authorised by statute or the Secretary of State.”</span></p><p> Was Narey’s visit authorised? </p> <p>When I asked G4S about this, they passed me to Narey who explained: “before I visited Rainsbrook, I told the Secretary of State personally that I had been commissioned to review the care of children at Rainsbrook and — although G4S were paying for my time — that I was directing my report primarily to the YJB [Youth Justice Board]. He asked me simultaneously to let his office have a copy of my report.” </p> <p>G4S told me the Ministry of Justice was “aware and content” with Narey’s viewing of the centre, though I’m still no wiser as to whether the security company sought authorisation.</p> <h2>Independent from whom?</h2> <p>Although Narey’s report states that he has acted as a paid consultant to G4S since 2012, and the multinational was upfront in its press release about ‘compensating’ him for this latest piece of work, there was no disclosure about his role in advising G4S’s bid for the next seven-year Rainsbrook <a href="http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:157408-2014:TEXT:EN:HTML">contract, worth £92 million.</a></p> <p>When I asked him about that, Narey told me: “I worked for seven days for G4S last year advising them on the educational and child friendly aspects of their bid to retain the management of their STCs.” (Medway secure training centre is also out to tender, that contract is worth £89 million). Narey said he has “no role and no knowledge of the commercial aspects of their bid”. </p> <p>He wasn’t sure whether he is named in the bid or the appendices, adding that he had “made an offer to bring together a group of critically minded people to act as some sort of ethics committee overseeing the care of our most vulnerable incarcerated children” whoever might run the centres in future. </p> <p>When I pressed G4S on the matter, I was told that if Narey “was mentioned [in the bid] it would only have been in relation to his offer to set up an ethics committee”.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Private-Eye-14-27-May-SCARE-CENTRES_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Private-Eye-14-27-May-SCARE-CENTRES_2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="395" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Private Eye 14-27 May 2010 (issue 1262)</span></span></span></p><p><span>Then there is the matter of rigour.</span></p><p>Narey describes his methodology in his report. He says he “drew keys and wandered through the centre at will”. And: “At my insistence I worked without terms of reference.” He spoke with children informally, not in “focus groups or in any other similarly contrived session”. </p> <p>The three inspectorates issued a <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/response-to-sir-martin-nareys-report-on-rainsbrook-stc">joint statement</a> in response to Narey’s published assessment. They said that their own inspection was “deep and broad, as the public would expect”. </p><p>They explained: “Our inspectors drew keys, walked unaccompanied throughout the centre and conducted many one-to-one interviews with young people. We ate with them, visited their living units and observed their education. Together we spent a total of 70 inspector days at Rainsbrook. The judgements were firmly based on a wide range of evidence and rightly took account of what had happened in the months leading up to the inspection.” </p> <p>The team of seven inspectors was led by a <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/413088/Ofsted_HMI_pen_portraits.pdf">registered social worker, with qualifications in child protection, human rights and psychology, and a background in managing children’s services in local authorities and the voluntary sector</a>. The organisations “fully stand by the findings and recommendations”.</p> <p>Children in custody are routinely surveyed during inspections, to establish their views and experiences from admission to preparation for discharge. One question relates to visits from family and friends. Inspectors reported in May that just 36 per cent of children at Rainsbrook received a weekly visit – significantly lower than the 52 per cent average across all secure training centres. On this matter, Narey recounts discussions with “one or two” girls who said their families found it difficult to visit, because of the prohibitive distance between home and prison. “I don’t believe that to be the case,” he concludes, citing the efforts staff made to persuade the parents of one girl to visit. </p> <p>Narey rejects the inspectorates’ judgement that a senior manager had prevented a child with a fractured wrist receiving medical treatment. Revealing that the senior manager in question was, in fact, the director of the centre, Narey observes: 
</p> <blockquote><p>“I interviewed the ex-Director specifically on this point. It is impossible to be certain what happened. So I find Ofsted’s certainty about his personal culpability — reflected in a decision last week to ask G4S to refer him to the Health and Care Professions Council — puzzling. On balance I consider that it is extremely unlikely that he would intentionally ignore clear medical advice and refuse to send a child to hospital, not least because to do so would have opened him up to potential dismissal and the end of his social work career.”</p></blockquote> <p>As someone who has made hundreds of freedom of information requests over the years, with many refusals on the basis of protecting personal data, I have to say that many of Narey’s disclosures are striking.</p> <p>Narey questions the dismissal of an “apparently popular” member of staff for piggy-backing on a child. “That member of staff might have considered his dismissal to be harsh,” he concludes, without giving a professional view as to whether G4S had followed employment law. </p> <p>He asserts: “For the last three years, and after every occasion that a child is restrained, he or she is interviewed by someone from Barnardo’s.” That claim contradicts inspection reports, and the advocacy service’s own annual reports for the past three years – which I obtained through an FOI request. The 2012/13 annual report states “no young person asked for an advocate to be present at their [restraint] debrief” and the 2013/14 report notes “young people requesting advocate support at their de-briefs is extremely low”. Such poor take-up “is worthy of further investigation by the centre”, the inspectorates concluded in May 2015.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Narey says he understands why “some of the incidents in 2014” had affected the inspectorates’ assessment of Rainsbrook. He shares “Ofsted’s horror” about one abusive event in particular. Despite this, he maintains that the inspection team was mistaken in its judgement: “The institution may be a better establishment now than at the time of the inspection. But I doubt that any such improvement has been significant enough to explain the discrepancy between the Inspectorates’ conclusion and mine.”</p><h2>“Utterly devastating”</h2><p><span>Four days ahead of Narey’s report, G4S uploaded a </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XD_65_0OII&amp;feature=youtu.be">promotional video</a><span> about Rainsbrook onto YouTube.</span></p> <p>Rainsbrook director John Parker, speaking on the video, calls the inspection findings “utterly devastating”, adding “clearly over the past 16 years the centre has worked tirelessly to achieve the highest outcomes for young people”. </p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Our team at Rainsbrook talks about work to train, teach and rehabilitate some of the UK’s most troubled young people <a href="http://t.co/pDtIyBoGzK">http://t.co/pDtIyBoGzK</a></p>— G4S UK (@G4S_UK) <a href="https://twitter.com/G4S_UK/status/624534321362247680">July 24, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>No detail is given of the “serious incidents of gross misconduct by staff” reported by the three inspectorates in May, or the <a href="http://www.g4s.uk.com/~/media/Files/United%20Kingdom/Rainsbrook%20STC%20action%20plan.pdf">37 separate actions</a> G4S had to take in response to the inspection. Neither is there any reference to the <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2012/8.html">2012 High Court finding</a> that the three secure training centres operated by G4S, and the one run by Serco (closed at the end of last year), had been running unlawful restraint regimes&nbsp;from the time they opened&nbsp;for nearly a decade, possibly longer.</p><p> When the case reached the <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2013/34.html">Court of Appeal in 2013</a>, the systematic physical abuse was challenged by neither government, G4S nor Serco. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-xsmall'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT CROP_0_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xsmall/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT CROP_0_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="140" height="167" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xsmall imagecache imagecache-article_xsmall" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span>Rainsbrook’s 16-year history includes the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">horrific death of Gareth Myatt</a>, aged 15, of mixed race, and small for his age. He was admitted on a Friday and died of asphyxiation whilst being restrained by three G4S officers the following Monday. At the inquest into Gareth’s death John Parker, who was Rainsbrook’s director at the time, admitted that he had <a href="http://www.cypnow.co.uk/ypn/news/1069514/youth-custody-myatt-inquiry-hears-restraint-failures">never read the Home Office manual</a> governing the use of restraint in his prison.</p> <p>Ofsted has a complaints procedure that G4S might have used to challenge the inspection process or conclusions. I asked G4S if they had done so. The answer I got was: “We made representations around the report.” There is no mention in Narey’s report of the multinational using official channels to dispute what the inspectors found.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><br />Author note: This piece is written in a personal capacity.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-bludgeoned-woman-to-death">G4S guard bludgeoned woman to death</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Thu, 06 Aug 2015 12:00:00 +0000 Carolyne Willow 95039 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“They look at you like you’re a dog, making you strip is bang out of order.” The final shocking extract from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**boy_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**boy_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><span>At Teesside Crown Court in May 2013 a man called </span><a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10429171.Darlington_prison_worker_found_guilty_of_sex_crimes/">John Cornwell was found guilty</a><span> of four charges of sexual assault of children, four charges of indecent assault of children, and two charges of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child. The offences dated back to the 1990s.</span></p> <p>Sentencing Cornwell to six years’ imprisonment,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10487806.Former_prison_officer_is_behind_bars_himself_after_child_sex_conviction/?ref=nt">the judge said</a>: “It is quite clear from the victims’ statements that untold misery has been caused. The effect will no doubt remain in their minds.”</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*John Cornwell convicted_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*John Cornwell convicted_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="281" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>After his conviction, Cornwell, aged 53, was sacked from his job. He was a support worker at Northallerton young offender institution in North Yorkshire a prison that had detained children until 1998.</span></p> <p>How might a man so thoroughly unsuitable have been employed by the prison service for so long? Was John Cornwell a one-off?</p><p><span>For some years now I have been trying to gather information on prison officers and governors who have been convicted of sexual offences. Knowing the risks of closed institutions, and the opportunities for abuse inherent in prison culture, I wanted to find out who among them had worked with locked up children. I asked the Ministry of Justice. My enquiries were not productive. Data protection exclusions in the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 stopped me from finding out the names of prisons in which convicted sex offenders had worked prior to conviction.</span></p> <p>Officers frequently transfer between prisons as their career progresses, and cross-deployment on split sites is common. It is reasonable to assume that many (if not all) of the following individuals worked at least some of the time with child prisoners.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*John Maber.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*John Maber.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="272" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Russell Thorne_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Russell Thorne_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="255" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><a href="http://www.cps.gov.uk/thames_chiltern/cps_thames_and_chiltern_news/paedophile_john_maber_sentenced___hertfordshire/">John Maber</a><span> had been a prison officer for 18 years when the Crown Prosecution Service announced in July 2012 that he had been handed a life sentence “after pleading guilty to 27 offences of child sexual abuse including the rape of a baby girl aged just four months”.</span></p> <p>The police investigation found he was at the centre of a paedophile ring. After evidence was found on his laptop, hard drive and mobile phone, 15 more arrests were made.</p><p> At the time of his arrest, Maber was a senior officer at the adult prison Pentonville. </p> <p>Acting prison governor <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-14192215">Russell Thorne</a> was jailed in July 2011 for five years for misconduct in a public office between 2006 and 2010 after coercing a young prisoner to engage in sexual acts with him at Downview women’s prison in Surrey. </p> <p>Allegations of sexual abuse were made about other prison officers at Downview, which had a dedicated unit for girls, and a <a href="http://www.surreymirror.co.uk/Review-launched-HMP-Downview-prison-sex-scandal/story-14412300-detail/story.html">prison service review was established in 2012</a>.</p><p> Surrey police established a special investigation, called <a href="http://www.surreymirror.co.uk/Review-launched-HMP-Downview-prison-sex-scandal/story-14412300-detail/story.html">Operation Daimler</a>. More than 200 past and present prisoners were interviewed. I asked the force how many girls were seen during this investigation and was appalled to learn that not a single child was interviewed. </p> <p>After being instructed by the Information Commissioner to release the information, the Ministry of Justice confirmed in May 2014 that four officers working at Downview prison had been suspended, dismissed or convicted between January 2009 and October 2013 “as a result of a sexually inappropriate behaviour with women prisoners or a young offender”. </p><p>This was seven months after a request was first lodged for separate data on the number of prison officers disciplined or convicted as a result of sexually inappropriate behavior with women prisoners and with girls in this Surrey prison. The oblique language avoids public acknowledgement of child sexual abuse (whether there is private recognition is impossible to assess).&nbsp; </p> <p>The Information Commissioner did not support disclosure of the report from the internal prison service investigation, stating it “could potentially cause unnecessary and unjustified distress” to the prison officers discussed within it. The report remains buried. </p> <p>A separate FOI request I made to Surrey County Council revealed that “less than 10” girls in Downview prison made sexual abuse allegations against staff in the five years to March 2013. I was told that these, and other allegations from girls, were either investigated internally by the prison, or no further action was taken. </p> <p>Had a statutory child protection investigation been undertaken by the local authority following any of the sexual abuse referrals, one obvious consideration would have been the role of strip-searching in facilitating abuse.</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**girl_copy2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**girl_copy2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></span></p><p>It is hard to imagine children more vulnerable than those in prison. These are children who have suffered enormous deprivations and grave violations in their early lives, many disabled and/or formerly looked after by local authorities, locked up tens and hundreds of miles away from home.</p><p>The ordinary practices of penal institutions feature in past institutional child abuse investigations. Removal of children’s clothes, the infliction of pain as restraint, petty rules and summary justice, as well as denial of fresh air and punishments for making complaints – all these, and more, are part of the murky history of children’s homes run by the state, religious bodies and the large children’s charities.</p><p>Take a look at the inquiries more than 20 years ago into the abuse of children in care in Leicestershire and Staffordshire&nbsp;<span>for the stark parallels with penal custody today. Children then were also deeply aware that they were society’s undesirables and unlikely to be believed if they ever reported abuse. Regimes were tolerated because they were seen to be successful in controlling wayward children. &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The power that officers wield is immense. Until very recently, thousands of children entering and leaving young offender institutions every year were systematically forced to take off their underwear and endure additional ‘random’ searches. The former head of the Youth Justice Board, John Drew, told me that when strip-searching was rife, the implicit message to children was: “You’re mine, I can do anything I like with you.”</p> <p>Risk assessments as a pre-requisite of strip-searching have been required only very recently —&nbsp;since 2011 in secure training centres and since 2014 in young offender institutions. Only close monitoring could determine whether such assessments are being properly carried out. </p> <p>Under any circumstances, being strip-searched is a demeaning experience. At its least ugly, children are made to stand in front of officers, exposing the top and then the bottom half of their naked bodies, while handing over their underwear for inspection. </p> <p>It gets worse than that. During autumn 2013, prisons inspectors uncovered “at least four incidents of young people being strip-searched under restraint and not as a last resort” in Werrington young offender institution. That inspection report recommends the cessation of strip-searching under restraint, although it fails to question the legality of the officers’ actions. <a href="http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/06/Werrington-2013.pdf">[PDF here]</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2005, as a member of the expert panel of <a href="https://d19ylpo4aovc7m.cloudfront.net/fileadmin/howard_league/user/pdf/Publications/Carlile_Report_pdf.pdf">Lord Carlile’s independent inquiry into the use of physical restraint</a>, solitary confinement and forcible strip-searching of children in penal custody, I encouraged child prisoners to talk about their experiences of being strip-searched. One 16-year-old girl told me: “For people who’ve been abused it’s not very nice.”</p> <p>Another 16-year-old girl in a different secure training centre told me: “The more you do, the less embarrassing it gets.” </p><p>She was to be released in two weeks’ time and wondered if she should ask for one of the six staff who had already seen her naked to undertake her final strip-search: “I could ask for one of them. It’s not nice for the whole centre to see you in the nude.”</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Barry Cummings.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Barry Cummings.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="183" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>At Durham Crown Court in June 2011 prison governor <a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/9019726.Sex_case_prison_boss_facing_jail/">Barry Cummings</a> was given a four-year custodial sentence after being convicted of three charges of sexually touching a girl under the age of 13 some years previously. </p><p>Cummings had worked at Low Newton prison, which formerly detained children, and <a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/9019726.Sex_case_prison_boss_facing_jail/">at prison establishments around the North-East.</a></p><p> At Newcastle-upon-Tyne Crown Court in May 2011 <a href="http://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/local-news/ex-prison-officer-admits-raping-girl-over-100-times-1-3394281">retired prison officer Christopher Pearce</a> was given a 12-year custodial sentence for raping and indecently assaulting a young girl over a period of five to six years.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*CHristopher Pearce _0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*CHristopher Pearce _0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="193" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Leslie Winnard_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*Leslie Winnard_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="178" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The child was six when Pearce first began indecently assaulting her, and 10 when he started raping her. The court heard Pearce had raped the young child up to 200 times. The offences were committed around 20 years previously. Acklington prison in Northumberland was one of the institutions Pearce had worked in. It had a dedicated wing for children until 1986 and specialised in the incarceration of sex offenders.</p><p><span>Durham Crown Court sent</span><span>&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/8630966.Officer_jailed_over_child_porn/">Leslie Winnard</a><span>&nbsp;</span><span>to prison for two years in November 2010 for possessing and distributing indecent images of children.</span></p><p>Winnard had been a prison officer for more than 30 years. <a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/8630966.Officer_jailed_over_child_porn/">Of the 1,567 indecent images stored on his computer</a>, 11 were level five (child sexual abuse involving an animal) and 257 were level four.</p> <p>Winnard may have had regular sight of children’s naked bodies as a routine part of his employment.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**BURNS.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**BURNS.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="102" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*PAYNE.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*PAYNE.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="152" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*HART.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*HART.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="160" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The same could be said of retired prison officer <a href="http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/8361770.Ex_prison_guard___s_child_porn_shame/">Andrew Burns</a>, convicted of possessing indecent images of children, including seven of the most serious type. </p><p>At <a href="http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/8361770.Ex_prison_guard___s_child_porn_shame/">York Crown Court in August 2010</a> Burns was given a three-year community order and banned from having any unsupervised contact with a child aged under 16.</p> <p><a href="http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/prison_officer_jailed_over_inmate_abuse_1_296571">William John Payne,</a> a former Royal Marine and prison officer at Warren Hill young offender institution, was sent to custody for three years in May 2010 after sexually abusing a 17-year-old prisoner, both inside the prison and after release. The boy was being treated for depression. </p><p><a href="http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/prison_officer_jailed_over_inmate_abuse_1_296571">Prosecuting counsel told the court</a> that Payne was “a prison officer who had care of this young man and groomed him to a point where he was able to sexually abuse him at every opportunity”. Payne would have also been able, as part of his official role, to conduct strip-searches of his 17-year-old victim as well as other children. He had been a prison officer for 30 years.</p> <p>At Bournemouth Crown Court in February 2010, <a href="http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/5006226.Portland_prison_officer_jailed_for_child_porn_offences/">Francis Hart</a> was sent to prison for 14 months for possessing and distributing indecent images of children. Hart pleaded guilty to possessing 245 level-four indecent images (depicting penetrative sexual activity involving a child or children, or both children and adults) and more than 1,000 level-one to level-three images. </p><p>Having served in the army for 15 years, Hart worked as a prison officer in Portland young offender institution at the time of his arrest in 2007. It is possible he would have undertaken strip-searches of children.</p> <p><a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/crime/4665858.Prison_officer___s_shame_over_child_porn_images/">David George Lamb</a> was a 53-year-old prison officer working at Deerbolt young offender institution, near Barnard Castle, County Durham, when he downloaded images of child pornography and distributed them to paedophiles around the world. He boasted to online acquaintances that he had had sex with two girls, aged seven and 10, and that he had sexually assaulted a four-year-old girl. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*DAVID GEORGE LAMB.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*DAVID GEORGE LAMB.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="189" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>In December 2009, <a href="http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/4782308.Man_boasted_about_internet_child_porn/">Lamb was jailed for two years</a>. As well as admitting he distributed images to paedophiles, Lamb pleaded guilty to making indecent photographs and having 565 indecent images on his camera at home. Deerbolt young offender institution had a dedicated juvenile unit in the 1990s, and was formerly a borstal.</p> <p>In 2012, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/apr/13/prisons-chief-failings-sexual-abuse">The Guardian newspaper</a> reported the case of Neville Husband, a prison officer who managed to get away with abusing boys in penal institutions for decades. This included a period at Deerbolt young offender institution, a posting he requested.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/***HUSBAND-sep.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/***HUSBAND-sep.jpg" alt="" title="" width="450" height="518" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p><span>The Guardian reports that the police charged Husband with <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/apr/13/abuse-teenage-boys-detention-centre-crime">importing sado-masochistic images</a> involving teenage boys in 1969 (these charges were later dropped) and, when he worked at Medomsley detention centre in the 1980s, pornographic material and sex aids were found in his drawers and locker.</span></p><p>After 27 years as a prison officer, the prison service discharged Husband on medical grounds in 1990. Thirteen years later, he was convicted of sexual offences against nine child prisoners, four of whom came forward after media reporting of the initial trial.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*RONALD HOLLIER.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*RONALD HOLLIER.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="130" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><a href="http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/866189.print/">Ronald Hollier</a> was convicted of child rape and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment at Guildford Crown Court in August 2006. He had been a prison officer at Feltham young offender institution, which holds juveniles as well as young adults. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*JOHN DAVID HALL .jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*JOHN DAVID HALL .jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="181" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Prison officer <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1518905/Life-for-sadistic-prison-officer-who-posed-as-Pc-to-rape-and-kidnap-girls.html">John David Hall</a> was given a life sentence in May 2006 for sexual offences against girls and young women in West Yorkshire. He was found to have indecently assaulted two girls aged 12 and 13 and tried to attack three others aged 13, 14 and 15. </p><p>Hall wore his uniform off duty, pretending to be a police officer before kidnapping his victims. He had been a prison officer for 15 years; one of his workplaces was Wetherby young offender institution, where his job would have probably included strip-searching children.</p> <p>In November 2002, the <a href="http://www.lancasterguardian.co.uk/news/local/internet-child-porn-prison-officer-and-ambulanceman-cautioned-1-1169266">Lancaster Guardian reported</a> that “a long-serving prison officer in Lancaster” had been cautioned for internet child pornography after information was passed from US investigators. Lancaster Farms young offender institution held children from April 2000 until 2008/09.</p> <p>The prison service would have been aware of many of these cases (and presumably others not reported by the media) when, in 2007, it began eliminating routine strip-searching in women’s prisons but decided to leave the policy intact for children, when it rejected the European anti-torture committee’s recommendation the following year, and when the&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;finally lobbied for change in 2009. </p><p>The policy document issued in May 2014 still empowers governors to introduce routine strip-searching across whole prisons for designated periods, and routine strip-searching remains mandatory for child prisoners assessed to be a serious security risk.</p> <p>Assessments of risk and decision-making about strip-searching are made entirely within the walls of the prison, with no independent, external oversight. The barbaric practice of cutting off children’s clothes under restraint is still allowed, even within the new, supposedly child-centred, behaviour management system:</p><blockquote><p> “The option of cutting off the clothing using safety scissors must be considered only where necessary and must be balanced against the risk of prolonged use of restraint and the consequent psychological impact on the young person and staff. (The cost of replacement clothing is irrelevant in such circumstances.) The young person must be provided with alternative clothing during the search.”</p></blockquote> <p>While recent policy changes should continue to reduce the frequency of strip-searching, the abusive practice of forcing an isolated and powerless child to undergo bodily and underwear inspection survives. </p><p>There is no formal recognition of the safeguarding risks of strip-searching in the main or addendum policies. For that we have to look to the National Crime Agency’s report on institutional child sexual abuse published in the aftermath of the Savile case. It includes a case study of the abuse of children in a locked setting (not a penal institution) and carries this warning: </p><blockquote><p>“Poor procedures can facilitate abuse ... creating supposedly legitimate reasons for offenders to conduct strip searches.” <a href="http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/49-ceop-institutions-thematic-assessment/file">[PDF here]</a> </p></blockquote><p>In that scenario, men had been authorised to strip-search girls, although the lessons are as plain as day for boys as well.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**girlb.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**girlb.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="322" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>In August 2012, the Ministry of Justice agreed to pay compensation to a former child prisoner who had been sexually assaulted on more than one occasion by a prison officer while detained at a young offender institution in Oxfordshire two years previously. </p><p><span>The&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;routinely publishes data on the injuries children suffer as a consequence of restraint. Yet the public is not told how many incarcerated children allege sexual abuse, whether these allegations are independently investigated and how many prison officers are disciplined and/or convicted as a consequence. Even parliamentarians have been snubbed in their attempts to obtain such information.</span></p><p>An FOI request I made, which was initially refused, elicited some indicative data for the period April 2009 to the end of December 2013. Before handing over the data, the National Offender Management Service told me: <span>“</span><span>We have removed any cases that have been withdrawn,&nbsp;</span>‘<span>auto closed</span>’<span>&nbsp;as no outcome received, or employee resigned.</span><span>”</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>After all these caveats, I was informed 62 prison officers working in juvenile prisons had been disciplined for child abuse. Six prison officers were listed as having&nbsp;“an inappropriate relationship with a prisoner/ex-prisoner”. This is prison service speak for sexual abuse. This data, of course, does not tell us how many children these 62 officers abused.</span></p> <p>A <a href="http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/8539/">safeguarding report</a> jointly published by inspection bodies in 2008 had this to say:</p> <blockquote><p>“While all inspected youth [sic] offender institutions were checking new staff, the HM Prison Service (HMPS) did not require the checking of existing staff and only one establishment was carrying out retrospective checks. Only six out of the 14 establishments had 90% or more of their staff CRB [Criminal Records Bureau] cleared for working with young people. Three establishments only had around half of their staff CRB cleared. This is of particular concern in closed institutions where staff who may not have been vetted are permitted to carry out procedures such as strip-searching...”</p></blockquote> <p><br /> Let’s reflect on that. Closed institution. Vulnerable child. Staff who haven’t been vetted. Strip-search.</p> <p>The&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;and the Office of Children’s Commissioner for England commissioned research into children’s experiences in prison. Their report was published in 2011 as Young People’s Views on Safeguarding in the Secure Estate. [<a href="http://yjbpublications.justice.gov.uk/en-gb/scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=493&amp;eP=">PDF here</a>]</p><p> Asked about the experience of being strip-searched, one imprisoned girl said: “They look at you like you’re a dog, making you strip is bang out of order, it proper makes me angry, it really does.”</p> <p>A boy expressed similar feelings: “I was angry, I didn’t want to strip in front of two men.”</p><p> Another girl said: “I think it’s quite like rape.”</p><p><span>&nbsp;</span></p><hr /><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Children behind bars test_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Children behind bars test_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="366" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>This is the third and final extract from&nbsp;<span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a></span><span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">: why the abuse of child imprisonment must end</a>.&nbsp;Detailed references can be found in the book. </span></p><p><span>See also part one:&nbsp;</span><span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a>. Part two: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a>.</span></p><p><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a>&nbsp;can be purchased from Policy Press&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">here</a>&nbsp;(<span>£12.99&nbsp;</span><span>plus £2.75 postage and packing). Subscribers to the Policy Press newsletter receive a 35 per cent discount. You can sign up&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/subscribe.asp">here</a><span>.</span></p><p><span>Original illustration is by&nbsp;<a href="http://reecewykes.com/">Reece Wykes</a>,&nbsp;working in charcoal, digitally enhanced. Wykes is&nbsp;a London-based illustrator and animator freshly graduated from Kingston University.&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ReeceWykes">@ReeceWykes</a></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/pregnant-teenager-imprisoned-for-failing-to-keep-appointments-with-her-sup">Pregnant teenager imprisoned for failing to keep appointments with her supervisor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/our-youth-justice-systems-fatal-flaw-it-is-harming-children">Our youth justice system&#039;s fatal flaw: it is harming children</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Tue, 23 Jun 2015 23:00:05 +0000 Carolyne Willow 92908 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Joseph Scholes and Adam Rickwood died within weeks of being placed in penal institutions. Carolyne Willow met the boys’ mothers, and tells their stories in her shocking book,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538"><em>Children Behind Bars</em>.</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Joseph-Scholes-007.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Joseph-Scholes-007.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Joseph Scholes</span></span></span></p><h2>Joseph’s story</h2> <p>Joseph Scholes loved Lego. Every Christmas he would ask for the biggest set, the castle or the pirate galleon, and spend the day building. Joseph was one of four children, he belonged to a close family: they ate meals together around the kitchen table, had regular holidays and enjoyed each others’ company. </p> <p>He was born in Sale, Greater Manchester, on 20 February 1986. His mother told me Joseph was quite a large baby and “very, very beautiful”. </p> <p>I met Yvonne Bailey at her home in Wales.&nbsp;<span>She told me that Joseph grew into an extremely clever, enquiring child, “interested in everything”. He loved nature and exploring National Trust buildings and museums, he enjoyed pulling things apart and rebuilding them. He was funny. He’d wear his mother’s hat and scarf and do “funny turns” when people came to the house. He loved the arts and music. At school, he was “sunny and popular”.</span></p> <p>Joseph loved playing board games with his family — Monopoly and Frustration for instance. He hated losing. His gran, who “totally adored him”, joked that she’d get repetitive strain because they’d have to keep playing until Joseph won. </p> <p>Yvonne told me that Joseph’s real difficulties started around 1995, when she and his father split up. “Before that, I would’ve viewed Joseph just as a usual boy. . .&nbsp; Perhaps, looking back, there were little things, but a usual boy. Hard work, very physically hard work, but that was the beginning of the end for Joseph. That was the beginning of the end, definitely.”</p> <p>There was a hostile custody dispute, moving homes and schools. Then, when Joseph was 12, he disclosed sexual abuse by someone outside the immediate family, and social services got involved.</p> <p>People said Joseph was young for his age: at 14 and 15 he still enjoyed climbing trees, building dens and was afraid of the dark.</p> <p>His self-harming began in his teenage years – Joseph would do things like push sharp objects into his toes. </p> <p>Joseph became aggressive towards his mother, stopped eating family meals and had irrational fears; he became scared of insects. He went from being obsessed about cleanliness to refusing to wash. </p> <p>When he was 15, Joseph jumped from a first floor window in a suspected suicide attempt. </p> <p>He was violent towards ambulance staff, so police charged him with affray. A psychiatrist who diagnosed him with depressive conduct disorder said his response to the ambulance crew was self-preservation. She warned that Joseph’s self-harming could escalate should he end up in custody.</p><p>A few weeks before Christmas 2001 Joseph went missing for about a week. He was found with another child in a deserted caravan on a car park. He was taken into police protection and placed in a children’s home.&nbsp;</p><p>Five days after that he had peripheral involvement, with two boys from the home, in street robberies of mobile telephones.&nbsp;</p><p>Joseph was psychiatrically assessed a second time and reported to be in a “fragile emotional state”.</p><p>The day after appearing in court over the phone robberies, he slashed his face more than 30 times. His bedroom in the children’s home had to be repainted because the walls were splattered with blood.</p> <p>On 15 March 2002, Joseph appeared in court for sentencing. Besides the psychiatric assessments, a social worker wrote a letter to the court expressing concern about Joseph’s safety given his propensity to self-harm when distressed. The judge ordered custody, and said the authorities must be informed about Joseph’s history of self-harm.</p> <p>Where might the Youth Justice Board place a child as vulnerable as Joseph?</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>The healthcare centre at Stoke Heath young offender institution in Shropshire had an appalling reputation. Prisons inspectors had found conditions dire, with&nbsp;“horrendous” numbers of injuries caused through inmate violence. In one eight-month period there were 717 injuries. [<a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110204170815/http://www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons/docs/stokeh001-rps.pdf">PDF here</a>]</p> <p>Children were routinely kept in their cells for all but one and a half hours a day. Over a ten-day period, some got less than half an hour’s fresh air. One child hadn’t been outside at all. Children ate all of their meals in their cells. </p> <p>Inspectors said the healthcare centre “failed to a spectacular degree to meet the standards established by the Prisons Board. Thus, a deprived environment for young, sick people was made worse by the complete absence of an area where patients could take outdoor exercise. It is hard to understand how the Prison Service came to build a Health Care Centre that failed to provide facilities, required by Prison Rules, for outdoor exercise.”</p> <p>Despite Joseph’s known vulnerabilities, and despite these shocking reports on Stoke Heath’s deficiencies, that’s where the Youth Justice Board placed him. </p> <p>Yvonne Bailey didn’t know what the system knew about Stoke Heath. After staff at the children’s home told her that Joseph was in the healthcare centre, she spoke with a nurse on the telephone. Yvonne told me about that call: </p> <p>“I was told he was put in a safe cell, so it’s again, it’s this use of language ... They should’ve said, ‘Yvonne, he’s in a cell, he’s stripped naked, he’s got a horse blanket-like garment on, fastened with Velcro. It’s filthy and squalid, I mean, the window’s about two or three inches deep in dirt between the pane and the bars and the outer pane. He’s on a concrete plinth with a thin plastic mat’. </p><p><span>“</span>That would’ve been the truth. But instead I was told he would come to no harm, he’s in a safe cell, he’s in safe clothing.”</p><p>I asked Yvonne whether prison health staff had asked for information about Joseph, for example, whether he was afraid of the dark. </p><p>She said:&nbsp;<span>“No. I </span><em>gave</em><span> information. When I rang I tried to explain he was under two hospitals, he’s tried to kill himself, he’s been sexually abused, he’s very vulnerable, we didn’t think he’d be sentenced.</span><span>”</span></p><p><span>Yvonne went on:&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>You’ve got to remember that if I was having a conversation now, I’m clear-headed, I would say </span><span>this, this, this,</span><span> I would ask </span><span>that, that, that</span><span>&nbsp; . .&nbsp; At that time, you see, everything, every answer they give you as a person with complete naivety, I just believed everything. So I came off the phone and told the girls, ‘He’s in a safe cell, he’s in safe clothing.”’</span></p> <p>Nine days after he was admitted to prison, and before Yvonne had made her first visit (it took nearly a week for a visiting order to arrive), Joseph hanged himself from the bars of his cell. </p> <p>He left a letter for his parents: “I love you mum and dad,” he wrote. “I’m sorry, I just can’t cope. Don’t be sad. It is no one’s fault. I just can’t go on. None of it was any of your fault, sorry. Love you and family, Joe. I tried telling them and they just don’t listen.”</p><p><a href="http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/social-worker-feared-tragic-teenage-2930850">At the inquest</a>, the youth offending team social worker said he’d had “serious concerns” about Joseph and rang the prison to warn about self-harm. Child prisoners have a <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673605673254/abstract">suicide rate 18 times higher</a> than children sleeping in their own beds, so prisons are probably used to telephone calls like these.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*bigman_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*bigman_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="491" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During his first four days in the healthcare centre, Joseph was placed in a garment described some years later by the European Court of Human Rights as a <a href="http://caselaw.echr.globe24h.com/0/0/united-kingdom/2010/01/19/bailey-v-the-united-kingdom-97286-39953-07.shtml">“simple linen tunic, held together by adhesive strips under which he was naked”</a>. “Horse blanket” and “dehumanising” were two of the descriptions given at the inquest. [<a href="http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Fatally%20Flawed.pdf">PDF here</a>]</p> <p>The author of the child protection report produced after Joseph’s death said that if the healthcare centre had been in a children’s home he would have closed it down. [<a href="http://inquest.org.uk/pdf/2004/joseph_scholes_verdict.pdf">PDF</a>]</p> <p>The institution’s medical officer told the inquest Joseph had been “deeply traumatised” by his treatment. Two years earlier, the officer had written to the prisons minister, Paul Boateng, the chief inspector of prisons, David Ramsbotham, and the head of the prison service, Martin Narey, alerting them to unacceptable healthcare standards.&nbsp;<span>[</span><a href="http://inquest.org.uk/pdf/2004/joseph_scholes_verdict.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p> <p>Boateng and Narey had ultimate responsibility for the care of imprisoned children.</p> <p>The coroner presiding over Joseph’s inquest took the highly unusual step of writing to the then home secretary, David Blunkett, asking that a public inquiry be established to consider the appropriateness of the custodial sentence Joseph received, the procedures that were meant to safeguard him once in custody, and the adequacy of secure accommodation to meet the needs of children. </p> <p>The government refused to follow the coroner’s recommendation.</p> <p>Joseph’s mother challenged this as far as the European Court of Human Rights, without success. </p> <p>In December 2012, Yvonne Bailey wrote to the Queen, asking for her support in obtaining a public inquiry. Her letter was passed to the then justice secretary, Chris Grayling. Yvonne is still waiting for his reply.</p> <p>Like Joseph said: “I tried telling them and they just don’t listen.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Adam’s story</h2> <p>Adam was a lively boy who loved being in the outdoors. He enjoyed camping and rabbiting. On Saturdays he would wash cars and help out at a local garage. He had ambitions to become a police officer, then he planned to set up a garage business; friends said they could help get him started.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD.jpg" alt="" title="" width="440" height="248" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam RIckwood</span></span></span></p> <p>I met Adam’s mother, Carol Pounder, at her home in Burnley, Lancashire. She told me that Adam was small for his age, a ‘mummy’s boy’ whose behaviour changed when he was nine. Five family members died within a four-year period and these deaths “played on Adam’s head”, Carol said. He was constantly crying and upset, he would have angry outbursts.</p> <p>“He wanted to know why people died,” Carol said. “I tried to explain to him why people died, but he just couldn’t understand it.”</p> <p>Carol sought help from social services and from her family doctor who referred Adam to a psychiatric unit. She was “in and out of school” because of difficulties there. </p> <p>Eventually, in desperation, when Adam was 12, Carol left him at the social services office to force them to arrange some respite. </p> <p>The local education authority and social services tussled over who should fund Adam’s residential school placement. He enjoyed his stay at a children’s home in Blackpool, 40 miles away from home, but he became homesick and, after just six days, Carol said, he “ran away and came home to me”.</p> <p>When he was 14, Adam was arrested twice, once for having a penknife and another time for possessing cannabis. During a difficult two-year period he was admitted to hospital seven times following overdoses of alcohol and drugs.</p> <p>Then he was charged with wounding a man and was subject to a court-ordered secure remand. </p> <p>A place in a locked establishment was not immediately available so Adam spent a short period in a local (privately-run) children’s home where he settled well. </p> <p>Then staff told Adam he was going to be moved to Hassockfield — a secure training centre run by the private company Serco near Consett in County Durham. The distance from Adam<span>’</span><span>s home was around 150 miles.</span></p> <p><span>Hassockfield</span>&nbsp;was built on the site that once housed Medomsley detention centre, where more than 1,100 former child inmates now allege they were sexually and physically abused by prison guards.</p> <p>Adam panicked and ran home. He was arrested, held in the cells at Burnley police station and escorted by police officers to Hassockfield. They arrived at the prison after midnight on 10 July 2004. Adam was assessed as ‘high risk’ and monitored every five minutes.</p> <p>Two days later one of the principal witnesses to the alleged wounding retracted his police statement. That should have given Adam’s lawyer the grounds she needed to appeal for bail. <strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Moreover, Adam told police and a member of staff at Hassockfield that he had stabbed the man because he sexually abused him (“touched him up”). [<a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/091.04-Death-of-a-Boy.pdf">PDF</a>]</p><p>In a therapeutic setting, such information would be seen as significant, potentially offering further clues to Adam’s self-destructive behaviour. It would reinforce the necessity of providing a safe, caring environment. But Hassockfield was not a therapeutic environment and these two separate disclosures were not recorded in Adam’s risk profile.&nbsp;</p><p>Five days after Adam was taken to Hassockfield, Carol was allowed to speak with him on the telephone. Three days after that she attended a meeting there. Carol told me:</p><blockquote><p>“Adam was sat there, he were crying his eyes out. He had snot dripping off his face, he were shaking. He didn’t even hardly speak throughout the meeting. His hand was all swollen and bandaged up so I asked what he’d done. Adam wouldn’t even tell me. They’d said he’d punched a wall.”</p></blockquote><p>After the meeting Adam and Carol had some private time. He told her he “would do himself in” if he was not moved. Carol passed that on to a female staff member: &nbsp;“Her words to me were, ‘We’ve never had a death here yet, and we’re not about to have one.’”</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/102893_e787d573_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/102893_e787d573_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hassockfield Secure Training Centre (Colin Edgar, Creative Commons, some rights reserved)</span></span></span></p><p>Close monitoring continued. A transfer request was made. Carol told me this did not highlight Adam’s vulnerabilities, his self-harming, poor mental health state or the prohibitive distance from home.</p> <p>In his last letter home, Adam wrote: “I need to be at home with you. I need to be at home in my own bed or my head will crack up. I will probably try to kill myself and I will probably succeed this time. I can’t stay in here.” </p> <p>He wrote another letter addressed&nbsp;“Dear Judge”. That letter, pleading for bail, is paraphrased here by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman:</p> <p>“... he said he had learned his lesson and intended to stay out of trouble in the future. He said that, if he was granted bail, he knew he had ‘to stick to it and I will for definite’ because a friend had offered him a job. He said he had stopped smoking and would not smoke cannabis again. He said he wanted to change his life and start again. He asked the Judge to take into account how he was feeling about things and said he was ‘really upset and distressed’. He asked for the chance to prove that what he was saying was true.” &nbsp;<span>[</span><a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/091.04-Death-of-a-Boy.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p> <p>On 7 August 2004,<strong> </strong>Adam was visited by family members. Officers observed someone passing Adam cigarettes and matches. Instead of intervening, they elected to ‘discover’ the items in a search <em>after</em> Adam’s family had left the prison. He was placed on the lowest level of the punishment and rewards scheme and his television was removed from his cell. </p> <p>That evening Adam learned that, because of the contraband, he was not allowed to earn any points for the day. He got angry, threw a plastic cup at a table which bounced and hit an officer on the arm before landing on the floor. </p> <p>Adam immediately apologised and went to his cell. Nevertheless, he was locked in for around 20 minutes as punishment.</p> <p>So, in about seven hours this 14-year-old child had accrued three separate punishments: relegation to the institution’s lowest privilege level, which included the removal of his television; not being able to accrue any points, and ‘time out’. All because he’d accepted seven matches and two cigarettes from a family visitor.</p> <p>The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman observed: “There can be little doubt of the effect this affair had on the boy – evidenced by the cup-throwing incident. He felt it was unfair (given that it was his family who brought in the cigarettes) and he would have felt the loss of points and privileges (and especially the loss of his television and CD at the weekend) keenly.<span>”</span></p><p><span>The Ombudsman said Adam&nbsp;</span>“<span>had quickly achieved Championship status and would have been proud of that (he said on one occasion on receiving ten points for the day that he was ‘King of the world’)”.&nbsp;</span><span>[</span><a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/091.04-Death-of-a-Boy.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*mother.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*mother.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Carol Pounder</span></span></span></p> <p>The following day, a Sunday, Adam and another child were in the association area of their unit. A child with special educational needs was on ‘time out’ and passed a note to Adam to give to another child. A female officer instructed Adam to hand over the note, which he did. She did not approve of what was written in the note and ordered Adam into his cell. </p> <p>Adam asked what he had done wrong a couple of times. The officer tried to drag him into his cell. Adam pulled away and went to sit down at one of the unit’s fixed table and benches. Then, the officer activated the ‘first response’ restraint procedure.</p> <p>Four officers came running into the unit. One of them later conceded that they found Adam quite calm and trying to defuse the situation. Still, the officers grabbed hold of Adam and carried him, face down, into his cell. </p> <p>Adam struggled. An officer swiped his nose. (The official euphemism for that is&nbsp;<span>‘</span><span>nose distraction</span><span>’</span><span>).</span></p> <p>Hours later, Adam was found hanging in his cell. He was 14 years old.</p> <p>Every day until three days before his death Adam had rung his solicitor about his bail application. He had packed a bag in preparation for a transfer back to the children’s home, which he had given to officers to safely store in the office. <strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The night he died Adam had asked for his bag back. Some days after his death a letter was found in the side pocket. The letter to his family began “Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!”. Adam promised to look after his deceased grandparents, and asked to be buried with his grandfather.</p> <p>At Adam’s inquest, held in Chester-le-Street in<strong> </strong>Durham in 2007, Carol Pounder watched CCTV footage of her son’s final restraint. </p> <p>“Basically, they beat him up,” she told me, “and they took him to his cell and left him. They beat Adam up in the association area. They carried him like a dead animal, face down. And what they said was the reason why they carried him face down was because his nose was bleeding so badly they didn’t want him to choke to death on his blood. That’s exactly what they said.”</p> <p>She described more of the footage: “They throw Adam in his cell like a dog, and then they go and jump on him again....The way they were carrying my son, I actually thought he was dead. And he was in his socks. He didn’t even have shoes on his feet.<span>”</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Carol said:&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>And then they threw Adam in the cell, and then they all jumped on him again ... I think the lightest one was 13-and-a-half stone, and you see him pushing on to the top of Adam, and you could tell they get a kick out of it. I mean, if we’d done that to a kid, well.... Then they all came running out that room, out of the cell.... When they came running out you can actually see the smirks on their faces.”</span></p> <p>Besides the letter for his family, Adam left a statement for his solicitor: </p> <p>“When the other staff came they all jumped on me and started to put my arms up my back and hitting me in the nose,” he wrote. “I then tried to bite one of the staff because they were really hurting my nose. My nose started bleeding and swelled up and it didn’t stop bleeding for about one hour and afterwards it was really sore.<span>”</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Adam</span>’<span>s note continues:&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>When I calmed down I asked them why they hit me in the nose and jumped on me. They said it was because I wouldn’t go in my room so I said what gives them the right to hit a 14-year-old child in the nose and they said it was restraint.”&nbsp;</span><span>[</span><a href="http://www.ppo.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/091.04-Death-of-a-Boy.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*restraint_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*restraint_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>What did give them the right to hit a 14-year-old child in the nose?</p><p>Carol Pounder had to go to the High Court to get an honest answer to her son’s question.&nbsp;</p><p>“<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/jan/22/youngpeople-deathsincustody">There was no right to hurt such a child in these circumstances</a>,” said Mr Justice Blake.</p><p>Wider admissions of abusive treatment came only with the second inquest, which concluded in January 2011.&nbsp;</p><p><span><span><a href="http://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/youth-justice-agencies-condemned-for-unlawful-treatment-of-vulnerable-boy-in-custody/">All parties to the inquest</a>, including the commercial contractor Serco and the Youth Justice Board, agreed that the removal of Adam to his cell had been unlawful, the use of restraint to move Adam to his cell was unlawful, the use of the ‘nose distraction’ on Adam was unlawful, and that restraint “<a href="http://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/youth-justice-agencies-condemned-for-unlawful-treatment-of-vulnerable-boy-in-custody/">was regularly used</a>” unlawfully at Hassockfield before and at the time of Adam’s death.</span></span></p><p><span>The inquest jury found that Hassockfield was running an unlawful regime and that the Youth Justice Board’s failure to prevent Serco’s regular and unlawful use of restraint at Hassockfield constituted “serious system failure”.</span></p><p><a href="http://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/youth-justice-agencies-condemned-for-unlawful-treatment-of-vulnerable-boy-in-custody/">The jury agreed that several factors</a> had contributed to Adam taking his own life: being 150 miles from home, the news that a bail application was not being pursued, the unlawful use of restraint, the unlawful use of the nose distraction, and his intrinsic vulnerability.</p> <p>Carol Pounder’s legal team wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking him to institute proceedings against the four individuals who had unlawfully restrained Adam, and the director of the Serco prison, Trevor Wilson-Smith. At the end of April 2013, the Crown Prosecution Service notified Carol’s lawyers that no prosecutions would be brought as, principally, a court would be likely to find that the suspects had a genuine and reasonable belief that the methods in which they had been trained to restrain children were lawful. </p> <p>I asked Carol’s barrister, Richard Hermer QC, what impact the case had on him personally. He said:</p> <p>“Obviously, on a human level, Adam’s story was just deeply tragic. This small child, who was clearly bright, able and insightful, met a tragic death alone in a cell.”</p><p> Hermer went on: “As a lawyer, the thing that stays with me about that case is what we discovered — namely, a detention system in which for years those responsible for the care and welfare of children were breaking the law and assaulting the children with impunity.” </p> <p>Hermer was troubled by the Youth Justice Board’s response to the ruling that the system was unlawful. At the first inquest the&nbsp;YJB had contended that this evidence should be withheld from the jury. Thereafter the Youth Justice Board and the government tried to change the law so that the unlawful restraints would become lawful. </p> <p>He said they did this “without, it seemed, any consideration as to the impact it would have on children, let alone any attempt to seek to learn lessons from what had just been discovered about unlawful practices in institutions for which they were responsible. As a lawyer, I found that a remarkably shoddy response from government”.</p> <p>As for the response from Serco, the private company running Hassockfield, Hermer said that was “even worse”. Why? Because Serco “actually sought to argue that the restraints were lawful”.</p> <p>Hermer said: “These were arguments that were rightly treated with some contempt by the High Court and Court of Appeal. How much better it would have been if the response of both government and Serco had been <em>not</em> to seek to justify the unjustifiable but to say, ‘Look, we have really messed up. What lessons can we learn? How can we make sure that this isn’t done again?’” </p> <p>“What does it tell us about the way that we treat children?”</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span>This is the second edited extract from&nbsp;</span><span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a></span><span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">: why the abuse of child imprisonment must end</a>.&nbsp;Detailed references can be found in the book. See also part one:&nbsp;</span><span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a>. Our series concludes tomorrow: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain’s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a>.</span></p><p><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a>&nbsp;can be purchased from Policy Press&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">here</a>&nbsp;(<span>£12.99&nbsp;</span><span>plus £2.75 postage and packing). Subscribers to the Policy Press newsletter receive a 35 per cent discount. You can sign up&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/subscribe.asp">here</a><span>.</span></p><p><span>Original illustration is by&nbsp;<a href="http://reecewykes.com/">Reece Wykes</a>,&nbsp;working in charcoal, digitally enhanced. Wykes is&nbsp;a London-based illustrator and animator freshly graduated from Kingston University. He tweets&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ReeceWykes">@ReeceWykes</a></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/criminalised-vulnerable-and-likely-to-re-offend-will-this-government-hel">Criminalised, vulnerable, and likely to re-offend: Will this government help young offenders in England and Wales?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/bulger-case-legacy-institutional-vengeance-against-children-who-kill">The Bulger case legacy: Institutional vengeance against children who kill?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/pregnant-teenager-imprisoned-for-failing-to-keep-appointments-with-her-sup">Pregnant teenager imprisoned for failing to keep appointments with her supervisor</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/our-youth-justice-systems-fatal-flaw-it-is-harming-children">Our youth justice system&#039;s fatal flaw: it is harming children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/we-in-uk-punish-girls-for-being-vulnerable">We in the UK punish girls for being vulnerable</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/andrew-neilson/new-report-confirms-problems-of-short-custodial-sentences-for-children">New report confirms problems of short custodial sentences for children</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Mon, 22 Jun 2015 23:05:00 +0000 Carolyne Willow 92868 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Prison, a treacherous place for a child https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Thirty-three children have died in English child prisons since 1990.&nbsp;A powerful new book exposes how Britain’s most vulnerable children are routinely damaged by the state.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*for willow tweeting.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*for willow tweeting.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="361" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>When Alex Kelly was six years old, medical examinations revealed that he had been repeatedly raped over many years. He was subsequently taken into the care of Tower Hamlets council. </p><p>In January 2012, when Alex was 15, he hanged himself at Cookham Wood young offender institution in Kent. He’d been there for four months. For most of this period, Alex had no allocated social worker, and council workers argued with one another over their responsibilities to him.</p> <p>Late last year, after an inquest jury concluded that “systemic failure” by the local authority and inadequate safeguarding within the prison had contributed to Alex’s death, the solicitor Mark Scott, speaking for Alex’s father, said: “Alex was extremely vulnerable and a child in need of care but instead was treated as a child in need of custody.” (<a href="https://www.matrixlaw.co.uk/uploads/other/18_12_2014_09_21_30_18.12.14.pdf">PDF&nbsp;here</a>)</p> <p>Children who have suffered the most horrendous hardships in their early lives&nbsp;<span>find little mercy in the state-organised punishment of penal incarceration.&nbsp;</span><span>From everything that could be known about a child, we select a fraction of his or her behaviour – that which has breached the law – and construe their ‘master status’ as young offender. </span></p><p><span>Many other descriptors could be used (if label we must) to more accurately reflect children’s lives and circumstances, including victims of poverty, maltreatment, bereavement, educational exclusion and institutional racism. There is no question that the vast majority of child prisoners will have suffered serious human rights violations.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3559916_48821_0-630.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3559916_48821_0-630.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="293" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alex Kelly</span></span></span></p> <p>Alex was one of 33 children to have died in English child prisons since 1990. That’s when the UK signed an international children’s rights agreement to use detention only as a measure of last resort.</p> <p>There has been a massive reduction in the number of detained children over the past five years but, still, the UK remains one of the chief child incarcerators in Europe. </p><p>In 1991, there were 572 children held in prison service institutions; in March 2015, there were 706. A further 186 were detained in three secure training centres run by the international security company G4S. (Children were moved out of Hassockfield secure training centre, run by Serco, at the end of last year).</p><p>Just 11 per cent of children in custody (112) were kept in secure children’s homes, establishments governed by the Children Act 1989 and run by local authorities.</p> <p>Only two of 47 Council of Europe member states, Russia and Turkey, detained more children than the UK in September 2013, the latest date for which Council of Europe figures are available. </p> <h3>They are children</h3> <p>A few years ago I set out to write a book about two boys, Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood, who died following ‘restraint’ in secure training centres in 2004. I wanted to find out what they were like as people, what made them laugh, what they enjoyed doing, what plans they had for their lives. I hoped to be able to write about them in such a way as to encourage policymakers to make connections with the children in their own lives they love and cherish, and to thereby stimulate radical action. </p> <p>Then I read <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/nov/23/cruel-britannia-ian-cobain-review">Cruel Britannia</a>, Ian Cobain’s book on the British state’s use of torture, and I decided to widen the scope of my work to examine the many harms caused by child incarceration. Having been a children’s rights campaigner for many years, I was already well aware of many of the scandals. But I knew there was much more to investigate and expose. </p><p>My early career as a child protection social worker had equipped me to ask uncomfortable questions, to interrogate information and ‘facts’ presented by adults in positions of power and to always stay firmly focused on the child’s feelings and perspective. Several hundred FOIs, analysis of dozens of parliamentary questions, 24 interviews and months of research and writing, and here we are.</p><p>My book,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a>, catalogues the mistreatment of vulnerable children held behind perimeter fences and banged up in cells for 14 or more hours a day, sometimes over a hundred miles from home.</p><p>These are children banished to young offender institutions known to be violent and unsafe, and secure training centres found by the High Court to have been sites of “widespread unlawful use of restraint”. </p><p>Child prisoners are exposed to practices that would invite state intervention were they to happen in the community. A parent who locked a child in a tiny room for more than 20 hours a day would, at the very least, be sent on a compulsory course to correct his or her abusive behaviour. Yet such mistreatment is routinely perpetrated by a punitive state that abandons child protection norms when it comes to young offenders.</p><p>What else might explain the lack of public outcry following an inspection report on a Staffordshire prison in March 2014? This told us children were being locked in cells that were “the worst [inspectors] had seen for some time. Some cells were filthy, gloomy and covered in graffiti, and contained offensive material, heavily scaled toilets, damaged furniture and smashed observation panels”. [<a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/06/Werrington-2013.pdf">PDF</a>]</p><p>Many of the cells holding children on their first night in the prison were “in an uninhabitable state”.</p><p><span>Three quarters of child inmates were held in pairs in cells designed for single occupancy. The inspectors noted: “Cells were cramped with not enough furniture and inadequate toilet screening.”</span>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*finished 1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*finished 1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><span>Another inspection report that same month tells of children at Wetherby young offender institution in West Yorkshire locked in cells so small they had to sleep “in close proximity to the toilet”. [<a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/06/Wetherby-2013.pdf">PDF</a>]</span></p> <p>In a third report —&nbsp;released in August 2014 —&nbsp;inspectors who visited Hindley&nbsp;<span>young offender institution,</span><span>&nbsp;near Wigan, expressed concern about the prison’s punishment and rewards scheme. At weekends, children on its lowest level spent at most 135 minutes out of their cells. Boys sometimes had less than 15 minutes’ daily exercise in the open air. [<a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/08/Hindley-Web-2014.pdf">PDF</a>]</span></p> <p>Here’s how Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, sums up the effects of imprisonment on children:</p> <blockquote><p>“It’s intellectually stultifying, it’s emotionally inhibiting, it’s sexually inhibiting, it’s frightening, your educational opportunities are restricted. In every aspect it’s negative.”</p></blockquote><p>Six years ago, after investigating the treatment of children and adults with mental health problems and learning disabilities by the police, courts and prisons, <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130107105354/http:/www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_098694">Labour peer Lord Bradley reported</a>: </p><blockquote><p>“The prison environment, with its rules and regimes governing daily life, can be seriously detrimental to mental health.”</p></blockquote><p>The Children’s Commissioner for England documented the case of a primary school girl who had suffered domestic violence and family breakdown. As a newly imprisoned teenager, she refused to leave her cell for the first six weeks.</p><p>Imagine a child in the community spending the whole of the school summer holidays locked in an austerely furnished room with a toilet, and food trays delivered to the door.</p><p>The experience of being sent to prison is deeply traumatic, as this boy told the Howard League for Penal Reform: </p><blockquote><p>“My first night in custody was the worst night of my life. I’d never been lonely before. I felt so lonely.”&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>Joseph Scholes left his parents a note before he hanged himself in prison a month after his 16th birthday: “I’m sorry, I just can’t cope.”&nbsp;</p><h3>See no evil. . .</h3><p>How can we explain the lack of outrage shown by the general public, the media and among politicians, in response to 33 children dying in institutions run by the state? Do people know?</p><p>Information drips from different sources. It is difficult to get the full picture.&nbsp;</p><p>There is research and testimony published by campaign groups, human rights bodies and academics. Some of the most shocking evidence is in court reports, inquest transcripts, coroners’ notes and other official documents that take some tracking down.&nbsp;</p><p>Then there is the use of euphemism and what psychologists might call avoidance techniques.&nbsp;<span>Officials rarely use the siren call of child abuse when it comes to prisons.&nbsp;</span></p><p>“Inappropriate” was the adjective chosen by the prisons inspectorate to describe the routine handcuffing and strip-searching of vulnerable children brought to a specialist unit because they could not cope in an ordinary prison.</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*hunger.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*hunger.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="447" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>“Significant weakness” was how Ofsted noted the absence of nurses, in contravention of the rules, during the use of restraint in a secure training centre. Inspectors gave the commercial contractor G4S three months to rectify the breach. In February 2015, inspectors who had visited another G4S-run secure training centre communicated their “concern” that a child with a fracture was denied medical treatment for 15 hours.</span></p> <p>Former head of the prison service, Martin Narey, told parliamentarians of “the possibility that the public greatly underestimates the full extent of the discomfort, pain and deprivation of liberty for anyone of any age”. He said: “For a child it is particularly traumatic.” </p> <h2>Significant harm </h2> <p>Knowingly causing children discomfort, pain and trauma fits the definition of significant harm in the Children Act 1989 – the part of the law sending social workers to front doors.</p> <p><span><em>Harm</em></span> in the 1989 Act means ill treatment or the impairment of a child’s health or development, including, for example, impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill treatment of others. </p> <p><span><em>Development</em></span> encompasses a child’s physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development. <span><em>Health</em></span> means physical or mental health. <span><em>Ill</em> <em>treatment</em></span> includes sexual abuse and other kinds of mistreatment that are not physical.<br /> <br /> For many years Chris Callender has worked with children in prison, as a solicitor in law firms in Leeds and London and as the legal director of the <a href="http://www.howardleague.org">Howard League for Penal Reform</a>. I asked him if any of his cases involved a child suffering significant harm in prison. He said: &nbsp;</p> <blockquote><p>“Most of the cases are likely to be bullying or intimidation or risk from either other prisoners or officers within the context and confines of the imprisonment. I can’t think of many cases where those young people were free from those issues.</p><br />“<span>So I just think that incarceration in YOIs [young offender institutions], particularly YOIs, the risk of harm – whether through fights, through turf wars, through bullying, threats from officers to children, or children to children – is endemic.”</span></blockquote><p>According to government child protection rules, <em>physical abuse</em> encompasses hitting, throwing and “otherwise causing physical harm to a child”. </p><p><em>Emotional abuse</em> can include “conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued insofar as they meet the needs of another person”. It may include silencing the child, belittling them and having inappropriate expectations. Serious bullying, and making children feel frightened and in danger a lot of the time, is a form of emotional abuse.&nbsp;</p><p><span><em>Sexual abuse</em></span>&nbsp;can include “forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities”.&nbsp;<span><em>Neglect</em></span>&nbsp;is the persistent failure to meet the child’s most basic needs.</p><h3>You’d be terrified</h3><p>In July 2013, the chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-23248433">told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme</a>&nbsp;that parents would be ‘terrified’ were their child to be incarcerated in Feltham young offender institution in London. </p><p>Had this been a statement from the head of the Care Quality Commission about an older people’s home, or a hospital for people with learning disabilities, the establishment in question would have been closed down. Prison service managers seem to have superhuman resilience to exposures that would topple other organisations.</p><p>Feltham young offender institution was the prison in which&nbsp;Zahid Mubarek, a British Asian teenager, was placed in a cell with profoundly disturbed Robert Stewart of the same age. On 21 March 2000, Stewart battered Mubarek into a coma with a table leg. Such was the minimal staffing in the institution, and the physical layout, that it was Stewart himself who first drew attention to the ferocious attack by ringing his cell buzzer.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HMCIP Nick Hardwick, HMP Pentonville.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HMCIP Nick Hardwick, HMP Pentonville.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nick Hardwick: 'If you were a parent with a child in Feltham you would be right to be terrified' </span></span></span></p><p>Zahid died in hospital. The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/zahid-mubarek-inquiry">public inquiry into his death</a>&nbsp;heard that prison officers had devised a game called ‘Coliseum’, whereby incompatible inmates would be deliberately detained in shared cells to incite violence and staff made bets on the outcome. </p><p>The inquiry was unable to substantiate those claims. However, it discovered that three white prison officers had handcuffed an ethnic minority prisoner to the bars of his cell, removed his trousers and smeared his bottom with black shoe polish. The officers were given official warnings.</p><p>Two white trainee prison officers who urinated on a black trainee during a training course were dismissed.</p><p>The then head of the prison service Martin Narey admitted: “It goes beyond institutional racism to blatant malicious pockets of racism.<span>”</span></p><h3>Sexual abuse of child prisoners</h3><p>There were 181 boys in Feltham at the time of the&nbsp;‘terrified parents<span>’</span><span>&nbsp;inspection. Almost a third of children reported victimisation by a member of staff. And 300 acts of violence had been perpetrated by children on each other in the six months preceding the inspection. The inspectors found a segregation unit, which also held young adults, with “ingrained dirt on floors and walls”. [</span><a href="http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/prisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/03/feltham-a-annual-report.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p><p>The prisons inspectorate’s survey of children held in 11 prisons the previous year found 32 per cent of boys and 22 per cent of girls had felt unsafe. More than one in 10 boys and almost a quarter of girls reported being subject to insulting remarks by prison staff. Physical abuse by staff was reported by 4 per cent of the boys. [<a href="http://socialwelfare.bl.uk/subject-areas/services-client-groups/young-offenders/tsop/144293children-and-young-people-custody-2011-12.pdf">PDF</a>]</p><p>At least nine boys reported sexual abuse by staff and the same number said other boys had sexually abused them. In one prison unit staff sexual abuse was alleged by 6 per cent of the boys. One in every 20 boys reported racial or ethnic abuse by staff. Nearly one tenth of children reported bullying by prison officers in another piece of research; child-on-child bullying was even higher.&nbsp;<span>[</span><a href="http://socialwelfare.bl.uk/subject-areas/services-client-groups/young-offenders/tsop/144293children-and-young-people-custody-2011-12.pdf">PDF</a><span>]</span></p><p>An FOI request I made to the prisons inspectorate revealed that, between July 2009 and March 2014, inspectors reported 130 child protection allegations from 112 children to prison child protection staff or managers following 30 routine inspections of young offender institutions and secure training centres in England.</p><p>Surveys in only two of the inspections resulted in no allegations of child abuse.&nbsp;</p><p>The actual incidence of abuse may be much higher. Surveys of children in unsafe surroundings are unlikely, on their own, to elicit the true level of abuse and other concerns.</p><p>The Ministry of Justice agency that runs prisons is called the National Offender Management Service, or NOMS. Early in 2014 NOMS disclosed that it had paid £252,370 in compensation over the past five years to individuals detained as children or young adults in 12 English prisons.&nbsp;</p><p>Payouts in respect of two child prisons — Warren Hill and Hindley young offender institutions —&nbsp;amounted to £76,000 between 2008/09 and 2012/13. Officials refused to disclose the nature of the claims, supposedly to protect the identity of claimants.&nbsp;</p><p>No data was provided for Ashfield young offender institution (which held children until 2013). As a private prison, it is obliged to provide information only as specified in its government contract, I was told. Nor can such data be unearthed using FOI requests, since private prisons are not covered by FOI legislation.&nbsp;</p><p>Imprisoning children means more than depriving them of their liberty. It squanders precious time that could be spent investigating what has gone wrong in their lives and changing it.&nbsp;<span>Adolescence is a period of massive transformation, when even teenagers living happy lives require careful handling.&nbsp;</span><span>Imprisonment is a deliberate act of rejection, banishment and exclusion – the very antithesis of what these children need.</span></p><p>Child prisoners rarely move from being fully included in society one day, to outsiders the next. Barrister and peer Lord Carlile, who conducted an inquiry into the treatment of child prisoners, described the <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/111107-0002.htm#11110733000305">“animalised, brutalised structure”</a> of prison life that compounds what has been missing in the lives of these children.&nbsp;</p><h3>Hard lives, inside and out</h3><p>Our prisons are filled with the poorest, most disadvantaged children who often have considerable mental health and learning difficulties. Even before they begin the admissions process, which involves being given a number, removing clothes and answering questions about suicidal thoughts and substance misuse, the lives of most child prisoners will have told them that they are worthless – certainly worth less than other children.&nbsp;</p><p>Analysis of the forms completed when a child has contact with the criminal justice system shows more than a third of girls have been abused and many have endured significant bereavement or loss (29 per cent) or witnessed family violence (24 per cent). Only 17 per cent live with both their parents. [<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/354833/yjb-girls-offending.pdf">PDF</a>]</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kids angry.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span><span>Children learn in prison that suppressing their feelings and being outwardly tough is the best way to survive. The chances are they believe this already.</span></span></p> <p>Hunger is a common complaint. In January 2014, prisons minister Jeremy Wright told parliament the prison service spent an average of <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140129/text/140129w0004.htm#1401303002129">£1.96 a day on prisoner meals</a> in 2013/14, an 11 per cent reduction on the previous year. Even hospitals spend three times as much.</p> <p>In a recent study of food in young offender institutions, only one of the nine prisons achieved the policy requirement of having no more than 14 hours between evening meal and breakfast.</p> <p>In June 2014, children were served mouldy bread in Cookham Wood young offender institution — while inspectors were on the premises. [<a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Cookham-Wood-Web-2014.pdf">PDF</a>]</p> <h3>I can’t breathe</h3> <p>Coroners and judges have ruled that unlawful restraint regimes continued unabated for many years in secure training centres. Human rights bodies have criticised the UK’s reliance on pain infliction as a tool of restraint. </p> <p><a href="http://inquest.org.uk">INQUEST</a>, the charity that supports the bereaved families of children and adults who have died in police and prison custody, told the government in 2007: “the violation of the rights of this large body of children goes worryingly beyond inhumane and humiliating treatment. It has been proved forensically that it presents a persistent risk of injury, suffering or death.” [<a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/pdf/INQUEST_submission_to_moj_dcsf_on_review_of_restaint.pdf">PDF</a>]</p> <p>It is a matter of public record that large numbers of children have been injured, many very badly, following restraint in penal institutions over the past decade. </p><p>In November 2011, <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/111109w0001.htm#111109102000462">parliament was told that 285 ‘exception reports’</a> had been submitted to civil servants since 2006 by commercial contractors G4S and Serco in respect of the four secure training centres. The two companies are required to produce these reports whenever children’s breathing has been compromised during restraint, or they have suffered serious injury requiring hospital treatment.</p><p><span>There are details that do not make their way to parliament, such as the five children who suffered six wrist fractures during restraint in Castington young offender institution between January 2007 and September 2008. <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm071205/text/71205w0013.htm">A reply to a question</a> in parliament in December 2007 reported that only one child had suffered such an injury after restraint in that prison that year. Even the government’s correction in September 2009 did not result in the true figure being recorded.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The internal report I obtained through an FOI request states that none of the five children was restrained because they were fighting and that most of the injuries were sustained in areas without CCTV. </p><p>A separate internal prison review was undertaken after six incidents in which children were thought to have suffered a fractured or broken bone during restraint in Hindley young offender institution (one suspected fracture was later found to have been wrongly diagnosed). The injuries occurred between February 2009 and April 2011, and only one of the situations arose because a child was fighting. One boy made an official complaint to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman after he was moved to another prison. It was upheld.</p> <p>Information obtained from the Youth Justice Board records, on average, 84 self-harm incidents in young offender institutions, and 16 in secure training centres, every month throughout 2012. <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/130722w0001.htm">Between 2007/08 and 2011/12</a>, 81 children in young offender institutions and 17 in secure training centres required hospital treatment following self-harm.</p> <p><a href="http://www.howardleague.org/susan-story/">One teenage girl</a> incarcerated in a women’s prison in Wakefield self-harmed so badly she needed blood transfusions. She was passed back and forth between prison segregation and hospital until her lawyer at the Howard League for Penal Reform obtained a High Court injunction in 2005 preventing her return to prison.</p> <p>Her barrister, Ian Wise QC, said: </p><blockquote><p>“There were women prison officers who were trying to do the right thing for [the girl] I’m sure, but they were just totally out of their depth. I mean these people have got no training on mental health issues.”</p></blockquote> <h3>Now, strip</h3> <p>As a child protection social worker, I worked with children who had been sexually assaulted in their own homes. I spent a lot of time reassuring children they were not to blame and no-one had the right to hurt them. Some years later, during my work on Lord Carlile’s inquiry, I met children who had been strip-searched in secure training centres. They said they felt embarrassed, degraded and uncomfortable. One girl told me about being strip-searched during her period; she had to pass her sanitary towel to staff for inspection. [<a href="http://www.howardleague.org/fileadmin/howard_league/user/pdf/Publications/Carlile_Report_pdf.pdf">PDF</a>]&nbsp;</p> <p>Had I still been a social worker, and these children were telling me about their fathers, uncles or children’s homes workers, they would have been officially classed as victims of child abuse. But as child prisoners such routine attacks on their integrity were authorised by the state. </p> <p>Children in young offender institutions have reported being made to squat in front of officers without their underwear. </p> <p>Routine strip-searching was banned for female prisoners several years before the same policy change for children.</p> <p>When Lord Carlile concluded that strip-searching is not necessary to maintain good order and safety, the Youth Justice Board promised a review. Its then chair, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/mar/23/comment.prisonsandprobation">Rod Morgan, argued in <em>The Guardian</em></a>: “Some young people arrive in custody with drugs or weapons hidden on their bodies and clothing. The consequences of drugs or knives inside a secure establishment are not hard to imagine, and every precaution, including searching, has been taken to stop this.” </p> <p>So Morgan and the&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;must have had robust evidence that strip-searching was necessary? </p> <p>Not so. </p> <p>The&nbsp;Youth Justice Board&nbsp;began collecting strip-searching data only in 2011, five years after the Carlile Inquiry reported and eleven years after it was given legal responsibility for booking children into prisons.</p> <p>Rod Morgan resigned in January 2007, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2007/01_january/26/youth.shtml">telling BBC Newsnight</a>: “I have to say to you that a custodial establishment, no matter how good we make them, is the worst conceivable environment within which to improve somebody’s behaviour.” </p> <h3>How to dehumanise</h3> <p>In June 2011, inspectors observed&nbsp;“petty and restrictive”&nbsp;rules operating in Lancaster Farms young offender institution. Only children on the highest level of the behaviour management scheme could wear their own clothes and even this was restricted to their cells and during other very limited periods. [<a href="http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/prisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/03/lancaster-farms-2011.pdf">PDF</a>] Earlier inspection reports showed this to be institutionally entrenched. </p><p>Five months into the new millennium, inspectors found the prison was experiencing “problems getting Prison Service clothes small enough for many of the residents” and recommended: “Small clothing should be available from Central Prison Service Stores.” [<a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110204170815/http://www.justice.gov.uk/inspectorates/hmi-prisons/docs/lancaster_farm_report_-_lat1-rps.pdf">PDF</a>]<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*sunlight.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*sunlight.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="443" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>This was five years after the <a href="http://www.scie-socialcareonline.org.uk/so-who-are-we-meant-to-trust-now-responding-to-abuse-in-care-the-experiences-of-young-people/r/a11G00000017xUQIAY">NSPCC had published a report</a> from survivors of abuse in care. One of the violations depicted in the report concerned the humiliation of being forced to wear communal clothing: </p><blockquote><p>“If we did not achieve so many points we were not allowed to wear our own clothes.”</p></blockquote><p>The final inspection of Warren Hill young offender institution in Suffolk before it became an adult prison in April 2014 reported that children were made to wear prison clothes but could keep their own underwear and socks. The only washing facility for underwear and socks was cell basins, so “many chose to wear prison-issue underclothes”. [<a href="http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/prisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/03/warren-hill-2013.pdf">PDF</a>]</p><p>A children’s charity was asked to review safeguarding in child prisons and its 2008 report observed that journeys to the young offender institutions&nbsp;<span>“</span><span>get them off to a frightening start. They often arrived late after hours spent in a small, uncomfortable cubicle within a van, frightened not only about where they are being taken to but what will happen to them if the van crashes</span><span>”</span><span>. [<a href="http://www.richmond.gov.uk/areviewofsafeguardinginthesecureestate2008_-_summary.pdf">PDF</a>] Some children were given plastic bags to urinate in, a demeaning practice reported by inspectors as recently as March 2014.</span></p><p>Deborah Coles is the co-director of INQUEST and has been working for the charity since before teenager Philip Knight hanged himself in an adult prison in Swansea in 1990. She told me:</p><blockquote><p>“I didn’t have children when I was involved with Philip Knight, and 1994 was when [my son] was born and I do think that, as my kids have grown up, and you see the vulnerability of your own kids who are in supportive environments with food on the table, have got a home, are relatively stable or go to a nice school, and then you look at these kids who are in prison, it just makes you ... it hits you in a different way actually, it makes you even more ashamed.”</p></blockquote><p>Since Philip’s death, inquests have recorded a verdict of suicide for 12 children’s deaths in penal custody, and accidental death for eight of the children. There were four narrative verdicts, five open verdicts, three verdicts of misadventure and one unlawful killing. Accidental death and misadventure are verdicts given when juries decide a death was unintended; narrative verdicts are detailed statements of the background issues surrounding a person’s death; and an open verdict means there was insufficient evidence to return another verdict.&nbsp;</p><p><span>All but four of the children whose deaths were judged to be suicide were known to have self-harmed in the past or were being monitored at the time of their death. You wouldn’t have to be a child psychiatrist to doubt whether the remaining four could withstand imprisonment. One had developed serious alcohol problems after the death of his mother from cancer on his 14th birthday. Another had severe learning difficulties and was worried about his parents who both had cancer. A third child had endured chronic bullying and requested to be placed in segregation for his own safety. The parents of the fourth child criticised &nbsp;the prison for not allowing their son his medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.</span></p> <p>Two of the 33 children who died as prisoners, 15-year-old Gareth Myatt and 14-year-old&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-12297125">Adam Rickwood</a>, were held in secure training centres run by G4S and Serco respectively. These boys died four months apart, 10 years ago, after being subject to appalling forms of restraint.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT 400.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT 400.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span></p><p>Before he lost consciousness, Gareth told the three guards holding him down that he could not breathe. The response was that <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">if he could speak he could breathe</a>. He died minutes later from positional asphyxia. The Youth Justice Board suspended the use of the seated double embrace, the authorised hold used on Gareth, two months later.</p> <p>Adam was subject to ‘nose distraction’ — the official euphemism for a severe assault to the nose —&nbsp;just hours before he was found hanging in his cell. Adam’s nose bled for about an hour, and his request to go to hospital for an X-ray was refused. He left behind a note asking what gave staff the right to hit a child in the nose. </p><p>Ministers eventually withdrew this particular technique. However, the deliberate infliction of pain by other methods remains.</p> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="440" height="248" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam Rickwood</span></span></span>None of the 33 child deaths in prison has been dignified with a public inquiry. Adam Rickwood’s mother told me she is still not certain what her son was wearing when he lost consciousness, since the prison had mislaid some of his clothes.</span></p><p>She described Hassockfield secure training centre in County Durham as “the scariest place I have ever witnessed”. Adam himself, in one letter home, described “a 30-foot wall and cage all around me”.</p> <h3>Politicians and large unpleasant thugs</h3> <p>Michael Howard, the home secretary who signed the first contract for a secure training centre, famously said in 1993 that child offenders “are adult in everything except years”.&nbsp;</p> <p>Fifteen years later, Labour’s secretary of state for justice, Jack Straw, was asked whether he would reverse the UK’s standing in Europe as the greatest child incarcerator. <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080610/debtext/80610-0003.htm">He replied: </a></p><p>“Most young people who are put into custody are aged 16 and 17 – they are not children; they are often large, unpleasant thugs, and they are frightening to the public.”</p> <p>On that very day, <a href="http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080610/text/80610w0029.htm">Straw’s prisons minister told parliament</a> there were 458 children in young offender institutions and secure training centres who were known to be at risk of self-harm, 419 at known risk of drug dependency, 310 with known mental health problems and 91 at known risk of bullying. Nearly 400 children were in prison for the first time.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p>The justice secretary should have been aware that, of the 30 child deaths in custody there had been at the time of his speech, 24 were children aged 16 or 17. All 30 of the dead children were boys.</p> <p>The coalition government’s justice secretary Chris Grayling <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10164447/Crackdown-on-perks-for-young-offenders.html">announced through the Daily Telegraph in July 2013</a> that his department was reviewing the punishment and rewards scheme in child prisons: “It seems ludicrous to me that we dole out privileges regardless of how children behave,” he wrote. “Luxuries must be a reward for good behaviour not an automatic right.” </p> <p>An international review of prison mother and baby units observed that girls in the G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre “can even earn the privilege of putting posters on the walls”. [<a href="http://www.communitymatters.govt.nz/vwluResources/WCMT_Libby_Robins_2011_Final/$file/WCMT_Libby_Robins_2011_Final.pdf">PDF</a>]</p> <p>Grayling asserted that children would <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/early-lights-out-for-young-offenders">“face tough sanctions”</a> for breaching a 10.30 pm lights and television curfew.</p> <p>There are many reasons children come to rely on artificial light and television and radio into the early hours, including fear, loneliness and restlessness. </p> <p>I have spoken with children who have had everything removed from their cells as a sanction, including photographs and education certificates from walls. Not one of them has ever told me that this helped improve their behaviour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span>This is the first of three edited extracts from&nbsp;</span><span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a></span><span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">: why the abuse of child imprisonment must end</a>. Part two tomorrow: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a>. And Wednesday: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain’s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a>.&nbsp;Detailed references can be found in the book.&nbsp;</span></p><p><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">Children Behind Bars</a><span>&nbsp;can be purchased from Policy Press&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?K=9781447321538">here</a><span>&nbsp;(</span><span>£12.99&nbsp;</span><span>plus £2.75 postage and packing). Subscribers to the Policy Press newsletter receive a 35 per cent discount. You can sign up&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.policypress.co.uk/subscribe.asp">here</a><span>.</span></p><p><span>Original illustration is by&nbsp;<a href="http://reecewykes.com/">Reece Wykes</a>,&nbsp;working in charcoal, digitally enhanced. Wykes is&nbsp;a London-based illustrator and animator freshly graduated from Kingston University. He tweets&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ReeceWykes">@ReeceWykes</a></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/lets-respond-to-englands-riots-with-decency-not-by-demonising-our-childr">Let&#039;s respond to England&#039;s riots with decency, not by demonising our children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/concealment-and-trickery-thats-g4s-childrens-homes">Concealment and trickery - that&#039;s G4S children&#039;s homes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/pregnant-teenager-imprisoned-for-failing-to-keep-appointments-with-her-sup">Pregnant teenager imprisoned for failing to keep appointments with her supervisor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/our-youth-justice-systems-fatal-flaw-it-is-harming-children">Our youth justice system&#039;s fatal flaw: it is harming children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/we-in-uk-punish-girls-for-being-vulnerable">We in the UK punish girls for being vulnerable</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/andrew-neilson/new-report-confirms-problems-of-short-custodial-sentences-for-children">New report confirms problems of short custodial sentences for children</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Mon, 22 Jun 2015 03:54:42 +0000 Carolyne Willow 92817 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>G4S appoints “new leadership”&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">at Rainsbrook</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">: the man in charge when Gareth Myatt, 15, was restrained to death, the man who told an inquest he&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">hadn’t read the restraint manual.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*ay_103585985.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*ay_103585985.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Staff at Rainsbrook, a G4S-run children’s prison near Rugby, took illegal drugs and subjected children to “degrading treatment” and “racist comments” according to an inspection report published this week. </p> <p>The report follows an unannounced inspection by Ofsted, HM Prisons Inspectorate and the Care Quality Commission in February this year.</p> <p>After the inspection, G4S appointed “new leadership” at Rainsbrook, which holds children aged 12 to 18. Yesterday I heard that John Parker had been put back in charge. I checked with G4S. They confirmed it was true.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-xsmall'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT CROP_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xsmall/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH MYATT CROP_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="140" height="167" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xsmall imagecache imagecache-article_xsmall" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span>My thoughts went to Pam Wilton, the mother of Gareth Myatt, whom I interviewed last year. She told me there’d been no justice for her son.</p> <p>Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre is where Gareth, aged 15, of mixed race, and small for his age, died during a horrific ‘restraint’ by three G4S guards in 2004.&nbsp;<span>John Parker was Rainsbrook’s director at the time. He admitted at the inquest into Gareth’s death that he had </span><a href="http://www.cypnow.co.uk/ypn/news/1069514/youth-custody-myatt-inquiry-hears-restraint-failures">never read the Home Office manual</a><span> governing the use of restraint in his prison.</span></p> <p>(One guard involved in that lethal restraint, 16 stone Dave Beadnall, was <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">later promoted</a> to the post of safety, health and environmental manager at G4S children’s services.)</p><p>This week’s report, which condemns Rainsbrook as “inadequate”, the worst possible category of performance, leaves many questions unanswered.</p> <p>It fails to convey what the G4S guards did to the children, claiming: “The full details of a number of very serious incidents have not been included to protect&nbsp;individual young people’s confidentiality.”</p> <p>Also unclear is the performance of the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/youth-justice-board-for-england-and-wales/about">Youth Justice Board</a>, which oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales and contracts prison places for children.</p> <p>In every secure training centre run by commercial contractors there are YJB monitors employed by the state. Monitors are under a <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/33/section/8">statutory duty to investigate allegations against custody officers and to report these and any other concerns to Ministers</a>.</p> <p>What did the YJB and its monitors know of the “serious incidents” at Rainsbrook? When did they know it? </p> <p>YJB chief executive Lin Hinnigan said in a <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/yjb-response-to-hmip-and-ofsted-inspection-of-rainsbrook-secure-training-centre">written statement</a> issued on Wednesday: “Earlier this year, Ofsted informed the YJB of serious concerns in performance at Rainsbrook STC.”</p> <p>But speaking yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme&nbsp;<span>(here,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05vfdzj">at 1hr 13mins</a><span>),&nbsp;</span><span>Paul Cook, G4S’s director of children’s services, suggested that G4S had shared information with YJB monitors about the serious incidents soon after they happened.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The timing is important, not least because the YJB renewed G4S’s <a href="http://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/news/market-news/market-news-detail/12275340.html">contract in 2014</a>.</p> <p>“This is an extremely disappointing report for everyone connected with Rainsbrook,” said Paul Cook. “It’s the first time in 16 years that the centre has been found by any inspecting body to be less than good or outstanding.”</p> <p>That chimes with&nbsp;<span>Lin Hinnigan and&nbsp;</span><span>the YJB press release</span><span>: “We are confident that Rainsbrook will return to the high levels of performance and care it previously delivered,” she said.</span></p> <p>Good. Outstanding. High levels of performance.&nbsp;<span>Such language is highly misleading.</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/hinnigan.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/hinnigan.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="208" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>John Parker, G4S; Lin Hinnigan, Youth Justice Board; Paul Cook, G4S</span></span></span></p> <p>Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre opened in July 1999. In April 2004, 15 year-old Gareth Myatt died after being held face down in a seated position by three officers. He had been admitted on a Friday and was dead by the Monday. </p> <p>The officers who held Gareth down, and ignored his cries that he couldn’t breathe, had been tutored in this restraint technique by a trainer known to her colleagues as ‘Clubber Clay’. Other staff nicknames included ‘Mauler’, ‘Crusher’ and ‘Breaker’. This information came out during the inquest into Gareth’s death.</p><p>Four years after Gareth’s death, a Rainsbrook team leader&nbsp;<a href="http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/local/institute-staff-member-dragged-teen-to-cell-1-898855">dragged a 13 year-old child along tarmac and then up a flight of stairs within the prison, before putting him in his cell</a>; he was convicted of actual bodily harm.</p><p> During a failed negligence claim in 2010, brought by one of the officers who fatally restrained Gareth, the Court of Appeal was given data on the ‘seated double embrace’ restraint technique. In the year preceding Gareth’s death, this was used on children in Rainsbrook 369 times. <a href="http://www.42br.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Smith-v-Youth-Justice-Board.pdf">Children suffered harm in “almost one case in three”; in 10 per cent of the total incidents, this had been life-threatening</a>.</p><p> In 2012, the High Court found that all four of the secure training centres then operating (three run by G4S, one by Serco) had been <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2012/8.html">unlawfully restraining children for up to a decade</a>.</p> <p>Paul Cook is aware that both the High Court and the inquest into Gareth’s death criticised inspectors, YJB monitors and G4S management for failing to notice that children were being abused. What credibility can we give to those earlier ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ reports when we know children were repeatedly unlawfully restrained?</p><p class="Default"> Let’s take a closer look at this week’s Ofsted revelations. <br /> <br /> “Poor staff behaviour has led to some young people being subject to degrading treatment, racist comments, and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs,” the report says.</p><p class="Default"> There was&nbsp; “poor application of restraint” and staff caused “distress and humiliation” to children. Some of those responsible were in “positions of leadership”.</p><p class="Default"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Private-Eye-14-27-May-SCARE-CENTRES.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Private-Eye-14-27-May-SCARE-CENTRES.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="395" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Private Eye May 2010 (issue 1262)</span></span></span>One child with a fracture “potentially” caused by restraint was not allowed medical treatment for 15 hours. </p> <p class="Default">This seems to be the “unfortunate incident” Cook referred to on the Today programme, when he was pressed to explain why the then prison’s director had overruled clinical advice that the child required hospital assessment.</p><p class="Default"> I asked Ofsted for the age of the child, the nature of the fracture and whether it was the result of restraint. </p><p class="Default">Ofsted replied:&nbsp;“We’re unable to provide this level of detail for privacy reasons.” <br /> <br /> In the six months prior to the inspection, 15 children were injured during restraint; another four required hospital treatment after “violent incidents”. Nearly half of restraints occurred because a child was self-harming.</p><p> Proper ‘debriefing’ of children after restraint was one of the measures introduced after Gareth’s death. The YJB contracts independent advocacy from the children’s charity Barnardo’s. </p><p>One of the service’s functions, included in the specification I obtained through a freedom of information request, is to offer “proactive support following restraint”. Yet, inspectors found “few” children who have been restrained take up the offer of speaking with Barnardo’s advocates. Why?&nbsp; <br /> <br /> The report said that healthcare staff do not attend restraint incidents —&nbsp;another vital safeguard not being implemented. And there were delays in restraint information being passed to the government team monitoring the use of Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR), the system of restraint developed in response to the deaths of Gareth and Adam Rickwood, a 14 year-old boy who killed himself after being restrained in a different prison (now closed). It took G4S six months to report one serious incident. (Rainsbrook was the first child prison to adopt MMPR, <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715125548/http://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/behaviour-management-and-restraint-update">in March 2013</a>. Hardly teething problems.)<br /> <br /> Inspectors state there were witnesses to some of the “gross misconduct”. But these witnesses took no action. Why not?</p> <p class="Default">Children had submitted 174 written complaints during 2014, and made an additional 111 ‘grumbles’ – the G4S process for “low level issues”. The majority of complaints “concerned property”, for example clothing or personal items going missing, Ofsted told me. This is common in institutional settings.</p><p><span>On admission c</span>hildren were “routinely” given a&nbsp;<span>“</span><span>dignity search</span>”.<span>&nbsp;No description is given of the process; previous inspection reports indicate that children are patted down over their clothing.</span></p> <p>Inspectors visiting Rainsbrook in December 2012 were similarly told that only dignity searches were in use. When they asked children about their experiences, they discovered <a href="http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/secure-training-centre-reports/rainsbrook/Rainsbrook%20STC%20Ofsted%20report%20December%202012.pdf">“a number”</a> had been required to strip off in front of officers on admission. No such concerns were raised this time, though inspectors observed the presence of a bed in the searching room “may be unsettling” for children, especially those who have been abused.</p> <p class="Default">Inspectors found eight cases of serious staff misconduct occurring since the prison was last scrutinised in November/December 2013. There were <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/20/misconduct-youth-jail-rainsbrook-ofsted-g4s">“at least” six sackings</a>. The numbers point to institutional, rather than individual, dysfunction. </p> <p class="Default">The inspectorates highlight the absence of a wider investigation, which could “provide reassurance that the high number of serious incidents of staff misconduct are not indicative of a wider negative underlying staff culture”. That’s seems to be a polite way of saying the staff culture could be rotten. </p> <p>At the time of the inspection this past February, Rainsbrook&nbsp; held 77 boys and girls aged 12 to 18. A survey of 54 of them revealed that 57 per cent had been in local authority care, a quarter were under the age of 16, and 17 per cent were disabled. Eleven of the children received no visits at all from family, carers or friends. &nbsp;</p> <p>Such children are uniquely vulnerable. They rely upon the YJB and its chief executive Lin Hinnigan, who has had a long career in the service of children, including as a teacher, social worker and educational psychologist, to protect them from harm.</p><p> If the YJB continues to find itself unable to terminate G4S’s contract, then government ministers must intervene to protect children and end this unhealthy relationship of co-dependency. How about Nicky Morgan, the government minister in charge of child protection, or Michael Gove, in charge of justice and prisons, or Theresa May, in charge of the institutional abuse inquiry? One of them must surely recognise that children can never be safe in this prison.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p class="paddingtonpresslist"><strong><em>Think this piece matters? Please donate to OurKingdom </em></strong><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/donate"><strong><em>here </em></strong></a><strong><em>to help keep us producing independent journalism. Thank you.</em></strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of">Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-bludgeoned-woman-to-death">G4S guard bludgeoned woman to death</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-tale-of-two-troubled-prisons">G4S: A tale of two troubled prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/duty-of-care-beyond-case-of-mr-ward-cooked-to-death-by-gigantic-outsource">Duty of Care: beyond the case of Mr Ward, cooked to death by gigantic outsourcer G4S</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Fri, 22 May 2015 18:20:36 +0000 Carolyne Willow 93007 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Many thousands of children stripped naked in custody. Ignites memories of being raped https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/many-thousands-of-children-stripped-naked-in-custody-ignites-memories-of <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li>• Children routinely strip-searched in England &amp; Wales child prisons and secure children’s homes despite government pledge to stop</li><li>• Nearly half were of Black or ethnic minority background, some as young as 12</li><li>• Serco’s Ashfield child prison, holding 400 boys, stripped 399 boys-a-month</li></ul><p><!--break--></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Two years ago this month, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) announced the end of routine strip-searching in children’s secure establishments. <a href="http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/press-releases/yjb/471">(View its press release here).</a></p><p>Despite the promise to move to risk-based strip-searching, official data shows thousands of locked up children are still being forced to expose their naked bodies to adults in authority. This is institutionalised child abuse.</p> <p>According to data provided by the Youth Justice Board in response to my Freedom of Information request, there were 43,960 recorded strip-searches in 25 establishments (15 child prisons and 10 secure children’s homes) in the 21 months up to December 2012 (the figures are incomplete so this is an under-estimate). The data does not reveal what proportion of the children were subjected to intimate cavity searches.</p> <p>These are children locked up miles from their families and communities being forced to remove all their clothing, including their underwear, and expose their naked bodies to prison officers and care staff. The youngest person to be strip-searched was aged 12.</p> <p>Forty-eight per cent of those made to remove their clothes were children from Black and minority ethnic communities.</p> <p>Like the Prison Service, the Youth Justice Board refers to strip-searches as “full searches” and gave me the following description:</p> <blockquote><p>“A full search requires for a young person to remove all clothing including their underwear for the purpose of detecting contraband on the person or contained in the young person’s clothes.”</p></blockquote> <p>A monthly average of 84 strip-searches took place in each establishment. There is wide variation between institutions: <a href="http://www.serco.com/markets/homeaffairs/custodial/ashfield.asp">Ashfield young offender institution</a> run by Serco undertook an average of 399 strip-searches of children (with an average 6 finds of contraband) every month whereas 3 of the country’s 10 secure children’s homes did not strip-search a single child over the whole 21-month period.</p> <p>A girl quoted by the Youth Justice Board, when it made its March 2011 announcement, explains the impact of strip-searching: </p><blockquote><p>“It makes me feel upset, embarrassed and really violating because I have been raped and it’s awful being strip-searched.”</p></blockquote> <p>Another girl recalled: </p><blockquote><p>“When I had my first full search I was 14, it was horrible as I have been sexually abused and I didn’t feel comfortable showing my body as this brought back memories.”</p></blockquote><p>During Lord Carlile’s independent inquiry into the use of restraint, strip-searching and segregation in child custody, a girl told me she had been made to hand over a bloody sanitary towel during a strip-search. After it was inspected, the prison officer handed back the sanitary towel and the girl was allowed to get dressed. </p> <p>Boys told the Inquiry they suffered a loss of dignity, fear and shock at having to remove all their clothes. The Prisons Inspectorate has reported instances of children having their clothes cut off and being physically restrained whilst their clothes and underwear were forcibly removed.</p> <p>The Youth Justice Board data I have elicited shows physical force was used on children being strip-searched 50 times in 3 prisons (34 times in Wetherby young offender institution). The Board does not monitor the use of ratchet handcuffs during strip-searching, how often clothes are cut off or whether children are offered gowns to wear during these deeply degrading procedures.</p> <p>When, back in 2006, the <a href="http://www.pricetraining.co.uk/filestore/a-response-to-lord-carliles-inquiry-into-children-in-custody.pdf">Youth Justice Board rejected Lord Carlile’s 2006 conclusion that strip-searching is not necessary to maintain good order and safety</a>, it claimed, “It is absolutely necessary to ensure that dangerous/illegal items and substances are not brought into secure establishments, for the safety and security of all children and staff”. </p> <p>I asked how much contraband was discovered through strip-searching. The results show the YJB’s response to Lord Carlile’s recommendation to be the work of a fantasist: just 226 items were found in 2011/12 and 49 items in 2012. That is, an unofficial item was found 8 times in every 1,000 strip searches in 2011/12 and 3 in every 1,000 strip searches in 2012.</p> <p>The single most common contraband was tobacco, discovered 85 times. (Readers may recall that 14 year-old Adam Rickwood, who hanged himself by his shoelaces hours after being physically restrained in Hassockfield secure training centre, had all his “privileges” removed the day before because his mother had given him <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/3632754/At-least-I-will-be-with-Nana-and-Grandad.html">two cigarettes and five matches</a>). No explosives, guns or knives were found, and drugs were recovered on just 15 occasions – from nearly 44,000 strip-searches.</p> <p>Prisons are intensely hierarchical institutions that rely on every person knowing their place. This does not appear in any official documentation I am aware of, but there is no doubt that strip-searching serves the function of demeaning and disempowering children. In his 1950s studies of dehumanising rituals in asylums and other institutions, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Asylums-Essays-Situation-Patients-Inmates/dp/0385000162#reader_0385000162">Goffman</a> describes mortification of the self. Children today say strip-searching makes them scared and humiliated and causes them to have flashbacks to previous sexual assaults.</p> <p>Forcing children to strip off their clothes was a feature of the abusive <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/182334.stm">Pindown regime</a> in four Staffordshire children’s homes in the 1980s. <a href="http://www.tsoshop.co.uk/bookstore.asp?FO=1159966&amp;ProductID=9780113214303&amp;Action=Book">Government guidance</a> subsequently described intimate physical searches as ‘totally unacceptable’ (this was removed in the 2011 guidance).</p> <p>That incarcerated children are deeply vulnerably is beyond question. <a href="http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmipris/summeries-of-juvenile-survey-responses/children-and-young-people-custody-2011-12.pdf">Of 951 children in prison surveyed by the Prisons Inspectorate in 2011/12</a>: 30 per cent of boys and 44 per cent of girls had been in local authority care; 11 per cent of boys and 8 per cent of girls were disabled; and only a third of children received weekly visits from family and friends. </p><p><a href="http://yjbpublications.justice.gov.uk/en-gb/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=119&amp;eP=">An audit conducted for the Youth Justice Board</a> found that nearly half of locked up children had literacy and numeracy levels below an average 11-year old. Over one-quarter had numeracy levels equivalent to a child of seven years or younger. The Prison Reform Trust analysed the backgrounds of <a href="http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/uploads/documents/PunishingDisadvantage.pdf">200 children in custody</a> and found that 13 percent had experienced the death of their mother, father or sibling.</p> <p>The data I have elicited shows strip-searching has reduced by about a quarter in the last year, though it remains incredibly high: in the nine months between April and December 2012, children were made to remove their clothes and underwear 16,133 times. The most striking change is within the four secure training centres run by Serco and G4S, which report an overall 98 per cent reduction. State prisons appear to have made the least progress, with only a 16 percent reduction. </p> <p>The very small amount of contraband found during this period, and the continuing absence of guns and knives, points to the practice still being disproportionate and excessive. The Youth Justice Board told me: “The vast majority of full searches carried out by establishments happen on a routine basis, for example on reception or discharge.” </p> <p>The automatic strip-searching of women prisoners ended in April 2009 (with piloting from 2007). This followed an <a href="http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/docs/corston-report-march-2007.pdf">independent review by Baroness Corston</a>, established by the then Home Secretary. Corston described strip-searching as “humiliating, degrading and undignified … and a dreadful invasion of privacy” and, for those abused in the past, “an appalling introduction to prison life and an unwelcome reminder of previous victimisation”.</p> <p>Inhuman and degrading treatment is, of course, unlawful under the Human Rights Act, but the rules governing the strip-searching of children give wide powers to establishments. There are no statutory criteria for strip-searching children, and no requirement to notify parents or local authorities that a child has been made to remove his or her clothes and underwear. The law provides no protection to those who have been sexually assaulted in the past; and children have no statutory right of access to an independent advocate after being subject to such a harrowing procedure.</p> <p>This matter is of such magnitude that Ministers must amend the rules governing secure establishments to prescribe the extremely limited circumstances in which it would ever be permissible to make children in institutions remove their clothes and underwear. Staff must be required to undertake this intrusive process in a humane and dignified manner, which includes providing children with gowns; refraining from shouting at, and verbally insulting, them; and never, ever cutting off their clothes.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.howardleague.org/1478/">The Carlile Inquiry report (2006) can be downloaded from the Howard League for Penal Reform website.</a></p> <p>This piece was first published on <a href="http://childrensrightsblog.wordpress.com/">childrensrightsblog</a>.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/al-aynsley-green/does-westminster-government-want-to-improve-youth-custody-or-not">Does the Westminster government want to improve youth custody, or not? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-crook/our-youth-justice-systems-fatal-flaw-it-is-harming-children">Our youth justice system&#039;s fatal flaw: it is harming children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/andrew-neilson/investing-in-failure-government-s-plan-for-youth-custody-in-england-and-w">Investing in failure: the government’s plan for youth custody in England and Wales</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/malcolm-stevens/criminalised-vulnerable-and-likely-to-re-offend-will-this-government-hel">Criminalised, vulnerable, and likely to re-offend: Will this government help young offenders in England and Wales?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Shinealight uk Shine A Light G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Mon, 04 Mar 2013 08:59:24 +0000 Carolyne Willow 71276 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Carolyne Willow https://www.opendemocracy.net/author-profile/carolyne-willow <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Carolyne Willow </div> </div> </div> <p>Carolyne Willow, a former child protection social worker and longstanding children’s rights campaigner, is Director of a new charity,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.article39.org.uk/">Article 39</a>, which fights for the rights of children living in institutional settings. Her book,&nbsp;<a href="http://policypress.co.uk/children-behind-bars">Children Behind Bars</a>, is published by Policy Press. Carolyne tweets&nbsp;@article_39</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Carolyne Willow Tue, 16 Aug 2011 11:29:05 +0000 Carolyne Willow 60947 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Let's respond to England's riots with decency, not by demonising our children https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/lets-respond-to-englands-riots-with-decency-not-by-demonising-our-childr <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A tiny minority of children in England took part in last week's rioting across some of the nation's major cities. Let's not let the riots further demonise our young people in the eyes of politicians and the general public</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Last week's riots were devastating and shocking. Five people lost their lives. Others lost their homes and belongings through arson. Nearly 900 police officers were injured. Countless shops and non-domestic properties were looted and damaged &ndash; &pound;200 million worth of damage says the Association of British Insurers.</p><p>Only a tiny minority of people living in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Medway and Salford took part in the rioting. An even smaller number of these were children: estimates are that less than a quarter of those involved were aged under 18. More people, young and old, took part in the clear-ups than in the destruction. Yet, as national co-ordinator of the Children's Rights Alliance for England, I can say that our organisation shares the fears of many young people that the events of last week will result in increased demonisation and even more social exclusion of the young.&nbsp;</p><p class="image-right"><span class="image-caption"><br /></span><span class="image-caption">I</span></p><p class="image-right"><span class="image-caption"><img src="http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/54532000/jpg/_54532449_jess1.jpg" alt="" height="140" /><br /></span><span class="image-caption">Jess Reid cleaning up after the riots in Manchester</span></p><p>Back in 2008, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child observed a "<em>general climate of intolerance and negative public attitudes towards children, especially adolescents",</em>&nbsp;including within the media. Ministers were told to take urgent action.&nbsp;</p><p>The UN Committee made a further 100+ recommendations for improving the lives and social conditions of children living in the UK. These included robust safeguards for children alleged to have breached the law, and those convicted of criminal offences. International law is clear that criminal justice responses to child offending must always be a last resort &ndash; sustained intervention by education, child protection, health and welfare agencies are proven to be the most effective in rehabilitating children.&nbsp;</p><p>As yet, there is no clear narrative as to the motives of the rioters; and no plain picture of the backgrounds and circumstances of children &ndash; some as young as 11 &ndash; involved in damaging and dangerous behaviour. An inquiry into the social conditions, home lives and motives of the children involved in last week's riots must surely be a priority for the Children's Commissioner. Importantly, such an inquiry should take in the views, reflections and recommendations of children living in similar circumstances, including friends and siblings, who elected not to engage in criminal behaviour.</p><p>The Prime Minister and the Home Office are leading political debate at a national level. No public statements have yet been issued by Government Ministers responsible for education, children's health and social care, youth services or juvenile justice. The Youth Justice Board sought to reassure courts and the public that there were enough prison places to incarcerate convicted children, as if this was the most natural and effective response to the week's events.</p><p>There have been no calls to learn the lessons from countries with much higher levels of social cohesion and far less child poverty and social and economic disadvantage. Has so much improved in our society since UNICEF ranked us bottom of 21 of the world's richest countries for child well-being in 2007?</p><p>What we have heard so far are a range of punitive and predictable responses, which can only put our country further down the international decency scales for how we respond to children in trouble:</p><p>Home Secretary <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8700761/UK-riots-juveniles-could-be-named-and-shamed-says-Theresa-May.html">Theresa May was reported in the Daily Telegraph</a> on Sunday as asking the Director of Public Prosecutions to urge courts to lift reporting safeguards for juveniles convicted of riot-related offences.&nbsp;London Mayor Boris Johnson <a href="http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3752123/Boris-Johnson-Send-riot-kids-to-Borstal.html?OTC-RSS&amp;ATTR=News">was reported in yesterday's Sun newspaper</a> as wanting courts to be able to exclude children from school and for the reintroduction of 'Borstal-type schools'.&nbsp;Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said those convicted of riot-related offences but not given custodial sentences could still lose entitlement to benefits. Families in council houses are facing eviction by local authorities for the alleged actions of individuals.&nbsp;</p><p>Media reporting safeguards have been in place since 1932 for children convicted of crimes; and the failure and brutality of Borstals has long been recognised. School exclusion can have a devastating effect on children&rsquo;s life chances, so much so that the Children&rsquo;s Commissioner launched an <a href="http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/press_release/content_432">inquiry on the subject</a> just last month. Merging basic social protection with criminal justice penalties puts children and communities further at risk and demeans politicians for their lack of insight and imagination.&nbsp;</p><p>Last year, the coalition Government promised that the Convention on the Rights of the Child &ndash; the international treaty which sets out how Government's should provide for and treat children in good times and bad &ndash; would always be taken into account in the development of new laws and policies. There are no signs so far that this international standard of decency, for all children, is playing any part in the coalition Government's rhetoric or actions. This has to change, fast.</p><p><em>This piece was </em><a href="http://www.crae.org.uk/news-and-events/news/august-riots-crae-urges-authorities-to-respond-with-decency-and-intelligence.html"><em>originally published</em></a><em> on the </em><a href="http://www.crae.org.uk/about.html"><em>CRAE website</em></a><em>.</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk Shine A Light UK Civil society Culture Democracy and government England erupts England Riots Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Tue, 16 Aug 2011 10:42:11 +0000 Carolyne Willow 60945 at https://www.opendemocracy.net