Howard League challenges home office over prison conditions for children

The Howard League has been granted permission for a judicial
review over the alleged failure of the home office to implement the
provisions of the Children Act 1989 in young offender institutions,
writes Clare Jerrom.

The organisation lodged a claim for the judicial review last
month after it produced research showing that children in custody
are not being protected from bullying, assault and self-harm.

Four 16-year-olds have committed suicide in prison since January
2000, and there were 554 recorded incidents of self-harm by young
people in prisons between April 2000 and November 2001.

Since the claim was lodged, the high court has received a
supporting statement from former chief inspector of prisons Sir
David Ramsbotham, and a damning report of Onley young
offenders’ institution by the current chief inspector, Anne

“Overall, we felt that Onley was a long way from providing a
safe environment for all its young people; indeed for some
vulnerable children we did not believe that it would have met the
requirements of the Children Act,” Owers said in the inspection
report of Onley YOI.

“There were also no proper child protection procedures in
place,” she added.

Mr Justice Silber granted permission after considering the
papers from the home office and the Howard League.

The next step is a full oral hearing of the arguments, expected
in July.







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