Social workers urge an end to child deaths in custody

More than 200 social workers have called for action to end child deaths in custody in a petition which will be delivered to the prime minister today.

A further 100 voluntary sector workers, 109 youth offending team workers and 80 probation staff have also backed the call led by the Howard league for Penal Reform.

The petition says that no child should die in the custody of the state, that penal custody for children should end and that if a child’s liberty has to be restricted they must be kept safe.  It has 3,642 signatories in total.

The petition is part of a national campaign by the Howard League to highlight the number of deaths of children in penal custody.  Since 1990, 29 children have died in prisons and secure training centres and the group are using leaflets, training conferences for practitioners and parliamentary actions to try and end penal custody for children.

Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said today:  “More than 40% of the children in custody are designated as being vulnerable and every day more and more children are sent into custody.  Just last week, Lord Carlile’s inquiry into children in custody showed that some of their treatment would in another setting be considered abusive and could trigger a child protection investigation.  Penal custody must be avoided if we are to save the lives of children.”

An Early Day Motion (number 827) supporting the campaign was signed by 92 MPs, including 39 Conservative, 38 Labour and 9 Liberal Democrat MPs.

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