Tough reviews for custody deaths and self-harming urged

The cases of children who die in custody or seriously self-harm
should be subject to serious case reviews, chief inspector of
prisons Anne Owers said last week.

Owers told delegates that she would like to see the reviews,
formerly known as part 8 reviews, introduced for children seriously
injured in custody as well as in care.

She said the regulations on strip-searching children were also
being reconsidered, and called for improved mental health

“We are recognising that there needs to be separate rules for
children in these sorts of things,” Owers said. “In prisons, people
fit into the regime. But when we deal with children, we must have a
regime that fits around the needs of the child.”

Owers said custody must be a “last resort” for children, and that
any establishment holding children “must conform to the standards
and principles of the Children Act [1989]”.

Highlighting that nearly half of children in prison were previously
in care, 80 per cent were excluded from school, and one-third of
girls subjected to sexual abuse, she dismissed the “false
separation” of troubled children and children in trouble.

She called for specific training for prison staff, improved working
relations between residential and specialist staff, and adequate
resources for local authorities to allow them to meet their

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