Don’t put children in jail

In our supposedly enlightened age it’s hard to believe that children in custody are being forcibly strip searched, and punished with solitary confinement for weeks on end.

The inquiry into conditions in the juvenile estate by Lord Carlile QC, due to be published this Friday, looks set to be a damning indictment of the current system. If, as expected, Carlile recommends that all staff working with children in custody should have child protection training, it surely begs the question: why on earth isn’t that happening already? It is also believed he will call for a ban on the use of handcuffs and an end to the infliction of pain as a method of control and restraint. Again, why does it need a full inquiry to come to such an obvious conclusion? But the fact that these practices are still going on means the Howard League was right to commission a report that will bring the matter to a wider audience.

There are still too many children behind bars in this country and if this report shames the authorities into investing more in community alternatives then that is all to the good.

As the Community Care Back on Track campaign two years ago highlighted, prison should only be a last resort for young people who persistently offend. In fact, if Carlile is painting a true picture of the system then it is pretty clear that prison is no place for vulnerable children at all.

See The Carlile Inquiry

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.