The government is still failing to develop a culture that puts
the human rights of children at its core, according to the latest
report from the parliamentary joint committee on human rights,
writes Derren Hayes.
The committee said that, in the government’s response to
the committee’s tenth report on the UN Convention of the
Rights of the Child, it failed to accept a number of key
recommendations made by MPs and Lords aimed at improving the
UK’s poor record on protecting children’s rights.
The committee concluded that there is still insufficient
compliance under the UNCRC by the government. In particular, it
highlighted the government’s failure to meet its promise to
develop an overarching strategy for children and young people
referring specifically to the rights, principles and provisions of
However, it praised recent measures to establish a
children’s commissioner for England, to appoint a new
minister for children and families, and its continued commitment to
reducing child poverty.
The government has failed to budge on a number of
recommendations made by the committee in the way children are
treated in the youth justice system. MPs and peers called for an
increase in the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 and
for the withdrawal of custody as an option for that group.
However, the government said it would continue to operate the
youth justice system along its present lines, “with a clear
and visible response to offending from age 10 upwards”.
The committee warns that new Intensive supervision or detention
orders, which will combine custody with community supervision, will
be used on children as young as 12 who are infrequent offenders and
who would not normally have received a custodial sentence. It adds
that it is “dismayed” by the government’s belief
that holding 2,000 children in custody is a necessity.
Failure to recognise the need for a statutory right to special
educational needs support, to impose Children Act responsibilities
on the prison service, and to scrap the “reasonable
chastisement” defence to harming children is also