The Howard League for Penal Reform today said an independent inquiry should be set up to examine problems faced by children leaving custody.
In a report the charity said councils could be abandoning thousands of children leaving prison instead of helping them to resettle in the community.
Chaos, neglect and abuse, based on the experiences of more than 100 children the charity represented legally in 2004 and 2005, said there were “serious gaps” in the planning and provision of support.
Social services often advised children to attend the homeless persons unit on the day of their release and they were often placed in “potentially very dangerous” bed and breakfast accommodation, it added.
Les Lawrence, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said councils were being placed under increased strain by the “explosion” in the child prison population
The Howard League has also won funding from the Legal Services Commission for a House of Lords challenge to a Court of Appeal decision that means councils do not have to automatically classify young homeless people as children in need