The Big Question

Should Home Office plans for 8,000 more prison places include more places for children?

Kierra Box – Young people’s activist
Locking people up when they’re young does nothing to help educate or persuade them out of criminality. The number of deaths in custody, particularly among people from ethnic minorities is shocking, and more punitive measures will make matters worse. Put some effort into treatment and support and these new cells won’t be necessary.

Len Smith – Gypsy activist
I’d like to think that the need for secure provision for children under, let’s say, 14, is a very small proportion of the total under-18 figure. It seems to me that children at this age need care more than confinement, and I’d like to think that any extra places were combined with a greater understanding of what is really needed for existing places too.

Angie Lawrence – Single mother
The UK locks up more children than most other industrialised countries. The vast majority of these children have known forms of abuse and psychological disturbance. We should not be subjecting children to custody. We should, instead, be investing more funding in youth organisations where they can receive an education.

Richard West – Inspired Services
More prison places for children is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Many young people with learning difficulties are being sent to prisons for the wrong reasons. For example, people are being sent to prison because there is no good local service for them. Many people have unmet support needs who end up in prison because they cannot cope.

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