Children in prison could still be routinely strip-searched, have
their genitals inspected and be left in cells for long periods
under proposed new rules, the Howard League for Penal Reform has
The government was forced to re-write the Prison Service Order
(PSO) to governors after the judicial review by the Howard League
in 2002 which ruled that the Children Act 1989 should apply to and
protect children in prison.
But Howard League director Frances Crook warned that there had been
no consultation on the PSO, which is due to be enforced from
In a letter to the government, Crook said the proposed rules
allowed for routine strip-searching of children, which includes
inspection of the genital area by adult staff, even though many
children in prison have been sexually abused.
Children can also be physically restrained using a pain-compliant
method intended to control adults.
A spokesperson for the Youth Justice Board said that, as well as
the PSO, the standards for young offender institutions holding
juveniles are governed by a more detailed service level agreement
between the board and the Prison Service.