Two young offenders institutions are failing to provide the
quality of care for children laid out in the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of The Child, according to research by
penal reform charity The Howard League.
The research, based on conditions for 15 to 17 year olds at
Lancaster Farms, Lancaster, and Castington, Northumberland, reveals
a lack of specialist training for staff, units that are too large
to provide individual care, limited access to daylight and open
air, and difficulty controlling bullying.
But a spokeswoman for the Youth Justice Board, which is
responsible for monitoring the institutions, denied there were any
problems. “We refute the points made,” she said. “For example, the
boys do not have limited access to open air. They play outdoor
sports on a daily basis.”
She said figures on the number of assaults had also been greatly
The Howard League acknowledges that recent changes to the youth
justice system, including the introduction of the Youth Justice
Board and the imposition of standards, have improved access to
activities for children.
But spokesperson Charlotte Day said the fundamental character of
prison remained unchanged. “Prisons are institutions designed for
security rather than care and the Howard League is concerned that
they still fail to meet the needs of children,” she said.
The Howard League now plans to carry out similar research into
every young offenders institution. “We expect to find that issues
such as lack of training, the size of units and the lack of
preparation for release will be common to all young offenders
institutions,” said Day.