Court battle for more protection for children in prison delayed

A high court case to secure more protection for children in
prison has been delayed to allow national and local social services
bodies the chance to make submissions, writes Clare

The Howard League for Penal Reform hoped to begin the case on
Monday to challenge the home office refusal to apply the Children
Act 1989 to prisons. The charity believes children in prisons are
routinely treated in ways that in other circumstances would trigger
a child protection investigation for abuse.

But Mr Justice Crane decided that the case should be put back to
allow national and local social services authorities, including the
department of health, to have their input in a matter that he said
would have a “profound effect” on their function and resources.

The case, which is backed by six national children’s
charities and the former chief inspector of prisons Sir David
Ramsbotham, is unlikely to be heard before October.

Meanwhile, The Children’s Society, which is one of the
charities backing the case, has raised concerns over the
introduction of section 130 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act
2001, which is due to be implemented nationwide on September

The charity claims the new law allows courts to remand in
custody younger children for less serious offences, if they are
considered to be ‘persistent’ offenders.

The Children’s Society says the number of children on
remand in prison has increased since the law was implemented in
April and piloted in 10 areas.

The charity’s research has shown that of children on remand,
half will eventually have their cases dismissed, or discontinued,
be found not guilty or be given a non-custodial sentence at the end
of their time on remand.






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