Stripped of dignity

Last year, during research for our campaign calling for a reduction
in the number of young people in custody and improvements in the
treatment of those in custody, we discovered that young people were
being held in “special cells”. Here, disruptive young offenders
were strip-searched and held in segregation.

At first this was denied by the Home Office. Then it insisted that
these special cells existed in only one young offender institution.
Finally it admitted that they were in use in 19.

When Community Care informed chief prisons inspector Anne Owers she
promised to monitor their use. Since then, two of her inspections
have slammed them. And yet, nothing has improved. This week, her
annual report reveals that in Hindley YOI staff broke young
offenders’ bones on three occasions as they forcibly strip-searched
them. Apparently, the use of force and strip-searching has still
not been adapted to child protection considerations.

In other situations, the cry might be “does somebody have to die
before anyone takes notice?” But this has already happened. One
year ago, 15-year-old Gareth Myatt died in Rainsbrook secure
training centre after being restrained by three members of staff.

It seems the government can’t be seen to care about the fate of
young offenders. So what was its catchphrase? Oh yes, every child

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