Child prisoners win right to be heard

    Child prisoners win right to be heard Children in prison will be
    given the right to argue against being placed in solitary
    confinement following an appeal court judgement last month.

    It follows an attempt by the Home Office to overturn a High Court
    ruling to allow children the right to make representations before a
    prison governor makes the decision to place them in
    isolation.

    Chris Callender, the head of the legal team at the charity Howard
    League for Penal Reform, which took the case to the High Court in
    June 2004, said the decision showed that the courts recognised that
    children in the penal system had rights.

    The charity was acting on behalf of SP, a 17-year-old girl with
    severe mental health problems, who was placed on suicide watch at a
    women’s prison and transferred to the segregation unit for three
    weeks.

    During this time she was alone in her cell for around 23 hours a
    day.

    The Howard League argued that SP should have been given the
    opportunity to make representations to the governor before the
    decision was made to place her in isolation.

    Chris Callender, head of the charity’s legal team said: “I find it
    remarkable that the Home Office took exception to the idea that
    vulnerable child prisoners should not be asked to comment on the
    reasons for such an extreme and possibly damaging restriction on
    their incarceration.”

    Meanwhile, a report by union Napo has found that almost half of
    under-18s have breached an antisocial behaviour order leaving them
    at risk of being put into custody. The union found that 39 per cent
    of 10-15 year olds and 38 per cent of 16-17 year olds breached
    Asbos between 2000 and 2001. It found that the number of orders
    imposed on young people had almost doubled year on year since
    coming into force in 1999.

    • Report from www.napo.org.uk

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