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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

December 20, 2007: Howard League Welcomes Inquiry

The Howard League for Penal Reform has welcomed confirmation that Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Stephen Shaw will chair a public inquiry into the treatment of an individual known as SP, whilst she in prison service custody from 2003-2005. SP was aged 17-19 in the period under investigation, after being remanded into custody as a child in care aged 16. She has been represented by the Howard League for four years and is expected to give evidence at the inquiry’s public hearings, scheduled for September 2008.

The decision to conduct an inquiry into SP’s treatment results from the government’s acceptance of the Howard League's argument that the level and seriousness of SP’s life threatening self harm whilst in prison service custody triggered the state’s investigative obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Howard League Director Frances Crook said:

“This public inquiry to be conducted by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will be the first ever truly independent investigation into the treatment of children in prison. It is also a unique opportunity because SP can give evidence at her own inquiry. This is the first time such an inquiry will have heard from the subject, all other such investigations having dealt with individuals who have died or been so seriously damaged they were unable to participate."

“At the very least, this inquiry will uncover a salutary tale of the crisis of mental health in our jails. SP’s story is a seminal story for our time because it exemplifies the failings of the state with regards to children and says a great deal about the genesis of criminal behaviour.”

The Howard League first acted on behalf of SP in 2003. She was then a 17 year old girl with severe mental health problems and a history of neglect and abuse. SP was transferred to an adult women’s prison from a local authority secure children’s home on her 17th birthday.

In prison SP was placed on suicide watch due to her persistent and shocking self-harm and held in solitary confinement for several months. While on solitary confinement SP was often locked in her cell for 22 hours per day, eating meals on her own and taking her only exercise in a metal cage. SP’s self-harm was so serious whilst in prison that she had to be taken to hospital for blood transfusions.

After two years of pressure and a high court injunction, the Howard League’s lawyers succeeded in getting SP moved from prison to a secure psychiatric environment. SP has since responded well to care and treatment and her condition has stabilized.

The first part of the Prison and Probation Ombudsman’s investigation will be to review SP’s records and relevant prison service and other policies that obtained at the time. The Ombudsman will then interview such witnesses as he considers will best assist the inquiry. He will also commission specialist reviews.

The Howard League set up a legal department to represent children and young adults in the penal system in 2002 following a successful judicial review against the Home Office that forced it to recognise that children in prison are protected by the 1989 Children Act. The Howard League legal team has represented more than 150 children and has a track record of success in forcing improvement to prison conditions, parole procedures and support on release.