Call for public inquiry into 16-year-old’s death re-launched

Campaigners and supporters of Joseph Scholes’ family are
set to meet to reiterate their call for a public inquiry into the
16-year-old’s death, a year after their initial plea,
writes Clare Jerrom.

Rehabilitation agency Nacro and campaign group INQUEST will hold
a parliamentary briefing to focus on the issues surrounding
Joseph’s death and the need for a public inquiry to look at
issues such as sentencing policy and the adequacy of practices and
procedures to safeguard children in prison.

“When a policeman knocks on your door and tells you your
son has died whilst in the care of the state, hundreds of questions
have to be answered,” said Yvonne Scholes, Joseph’s
mother. “Only a public inquiry can answer these.”

Joseph died just nine days into his two year sentence at Stoke
Heath Young Offender Institution. He was the victim of domestic
violence and sexual abuse. He had been in care, had mental health
problems, was self-harming and suicidal.

Paul Cavadino, chief executive of Nacro, said: “A
vulnerable child like Joseph should not have been sentenced to
custody or held in prison service accommodation.

“His tragic case demonstrates the profound flaws in this
country’s system for dealing with children in trouble,”
he added.

Joseph’s family, Nacro and Inquest made a formal call for
a public inquiry into Joseph’s death last November. Since
then, the coroner at the inquest recommended that a public inquiry
should be held as a number of issues could not be dealt with at an

Goggins announced in September that the government would not be
holding a public inquiry.

However, he pledged to:-

• Refer the circumstances in which Joseph received a
custodial sentence on three counts of robbery to the Sentencing
Guidelines Council requesting it to take the case into account in
its work to draw up guidelines on sentencing for robbery

• Ask the Youth Justice Board, which is preparing
proposals for its vision for the future juvenile estate, to take
full account of the points made by the coroner

• Appoint former assistant chief inspector of social
services David Lambert to examine the operational issues raised by
the case

“I consider the above measures are the most effective
means of addressing the matters the coroner has drawn to the home
secretary’s attention and what lessons should be learned from
Joseph’s death,” he said, at the time.

Community Care is formally backing the call for a
public inquiry into Joseph’s death. We also want to see
improvements to the youth justice and a reduction in the numbers of
children being sent to custody.

For more information on our campaign go to


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