Campaign charity the Howard League for Penal Reform has urged the Parole Board for England and Wales to cut “unnecessary time” spent by children in custody.
A review of the parole process by the charity criticised the lack of formal support offered to detained children by the Parole Board and YOT workers, which it says can lead to parole being refused. The report was published after a case of a 15-year-old denied early release who won a judicial review after it was revealed he had not been given any assistance with his representation for parole.
About 1.2% of parole cases involve under-18s, and there are concerns that more children and young people are not being detained for the shortest time possible, contrary to Article 37b of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The report also outlines proposals to help establish a separate parole process for children and young people. These include assigning a dedicated caseworker to deal with child applicants and providing training to YOTs and parole panel members.
A spokesperson for the Howard League hoped the Parole Board would accept the recommendations. “There does seem to be a recognition that not to have a child-centred approach is an anachronism,” he said. “This will be a burgeoning problem as long as we are throwing more children in prison and as long as they are being given indeterminate sentences.”
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