Hodge accused of “side-lining children’s rights”

Margaret Hodge

Children’s minister Margaret Hodge was accused today of
“side-lining children’s rights” under the reforms to children’s
services proposed in the Children Bill, writes Maria
Ahmed in London

At the Youth Justice Board’s annual
conference in London, people working with young offenders expressed
concern that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was not
being properly implemented across services, despite being included
in the Children Bill.

In response, Hodge avoided the use of
the word “rights” and organisations criticised her for failing to
address their concerns.

Hodge told the conference: “Children’s
voices should be at the heart of everything we do.”

She added that a failure to listen was
one of the key problems highlighted by the Victoria Climbie

Delegates said they were not satisfied
with Hodge’s response and called for a greater commitment to
children’s rights.

Last month we reported how Hodge had
successfully watered down the role of children’s commissioner for
England, outlined in the bill, by removing five references to the
word “rights” from the description of the job.

Speaking at the conference, director of the Howard League
Frances Crook said organisations working with young offenders
should be trained in UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to
ensure better protection of young people in custody.

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