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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

September 29, 2008: Private Jails Restrain Children

Figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform through Freedom of Information have revealed that three of the four privately run secure training centres (STCs) holding children as young as 12 top the league table for using restraint against children.

The four STCs – Oakhill, Medway, Hassockfield and Rainsbrook – hold 12-14 year olds in custody, as well as some 15 year old children deemed too vulnerable to be held in the prisons. Of the 3,000 children held in custody at any one time, no more than 240 will be held in the STCs.

Despite the vulnerable nature of the children held in STCs, and the fact they hold only 8 per cent of the juvenile population, 31% of all restraint incidents between October 2006 and June 2008 occurred in these privately run jails.

Between October 2006 and June 2008, the top three establishments using restraint were:
• Oakhill STC with 1,493 restraint incidents
• Medway STC with 1,419 restraint incidents
• Hassockfield STC with 843 restraint incidents

In fourth place was Ashfield, a prison for teenage boys aged 15,16 and 17. This privately run young offenders institution (YOI) is one of the biggest in Europe, holding twice as many children as the three STCs above combined. The Howard League figures show that staff in Ashfield used physical restraint 805 times between October 2006 and July 2008.

Young children in the STCs were the most likely to be injured during restraint. Between April 2007 and June 2008, the STCs were responsible for almost half – 44% - of all injuries after restraint, despite the fact that only 8 per cent of the juvenile custodial population are housed in STCs. 18% of restraint incidents in STCs resulted in injury, compared to 14% in the YOIs and 6 per cent in local authority run secure care homes (SCHs).

The figures show that children are restrained an average of 670 times a month in the English and Welsh juvenile secure estate. Between October 2006 and June 2008, restraint was used 14,076 times on under 18s in custody.

Restraint is also being used across the juvenile estate disproportionately on girls. Girls comprise just 7 per cent of the population of children in custody yet 20% of restraints were carried out on girls between October 2006 and June 2008.
Director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Frances Crook, said today (Monday, 29 September):

“Later this week the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child gives its verdict on the UK government’s treatment of our children. The issue of children in custody being physically restrained in English and Welsh jails will be of major concern.

“Our legal team are being told by children in custody that they are being provoked by staff into bad behaviour so that restraint can be used, since a Court of Appeal judgment in July limited the ways in which restraint can be legally deployed. We are also aware that some children, particularly the victims of previous abuse and neglect, will provoke restraint in an effort to get the attention of staff and to release feelings of anger.

“The tragedy is that it does not need to be this way. In other countries, and even in other parts of our own juvenile estate – the local authority run secure care homes – tactics are used to de-escalate conflict and to manage difficult behaviour. It is particularly worrying that prisons run by private companies are the worst offenders in terms of relying on outdated and painful restraint techniques, which in any other circumstances could trigger a child protection or police investigation.

“The danger for the general public is that brutalised children are released from custody even more anti-authority and anti-society before. It is time the government banned the use of painful physical restraint on children and closed these kiddie jails down because they fail the children, they fail victims and they shame the nation.”