Inquiry begins into treatment of children in custody

Poor treatment of children in custody
is “the greatest scandal of our time”, says Labour MP
Hilton Dawson, writes Maria Ahmed.

The Labour backbencher is part of an
independent investigation into the use of physical restraint,
solitary confinement and forcible strip-searching of children in
prisons and secure centres.

As the panel, headed by Lord Carlile,
was announced this week, Dawson said he hoped the inquiry would
strengthen the case for reform by bringing together a “wide
range of expertise”.

“There is an absolute need to
engage young people themselves in the inquiry as there is no form
of organisation to represent those in custody. We can learn so much
from their experiences”, he added.

The inquiry, expected to last one year,
will examine treatment of children in prisons, secure training
centres and local authority secure homes.

The advisory panel includes
paediatricians, sociologists, penal reformers and children’s
charities, including the NSPCC.

Lord Carlile will begin the inquiry
with a series of meetings with Professor Rod Morgan, chair of the
Youth Justice Board, Phil Wheatley, director general of the Prison
Service and Martin Narey, chief executive of the National Offending
Management Service.

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