Local authorities are systematically flouting the law by failing to provide suitable accommodation and support for vulnerable children leaving custody, campaign organisation the Howard League for Penal Reform warned today.
The charity’s legal team, which has represented more than a 100 children in custody, claims that local authorities across the country are breaching a range of statutory duties designed to ensure children leaving custody do not end up returning to the same situations that led to their imprisonment in the first place.
“Many of the children we have represented are vulnerable and challenging,” said Howard League assistant director and solicitor Chris Callender. “They absolutely must be given appropriate support for their sake and for the sake of all of us.”
Responding to the report, Local Government Association spokesperson on children and young people Les Lawrence insisted councils took their responsibilities for vulnerable children incredibly seriously but were forced to work within limited budgets.
“An explosion in the child prison population over the last decade has placed an intolerable burden on councils in an area where resources are already stretched and difficult decisions need to be made,” he explained.
Lawrence added that the LGA would be working with the Howard League and the government to “clarify” councils’ responsibilities in this area.