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Lessons Must Be Learned From Child Custody Figures

Legal Experts React To Worrying New Findings


By Rob Dixon

Lawyers who specialise in human rights have urged the Government to react following concerning new figures related to the number of young people who have died or been injured in custody.

According to Ministry of Justice statistics seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform, three children died and incidents of self-harm rose by 21 per cent across 2011-12.

It also revealed that 20 further children died while under the supervision of youth offending teams in the community in the same period. There was also a 17 per cent rise in the number of uses of restraint against children aged between 10 and 17 in custody.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law team has vast experience in relation to human rights and also represents those who have been injured while in custody, as result of problems including the use of excessive force and negligence by officers.

Nancy Collins, a legal expert at Irwin Mitchell who specialises in this area, said: “It is deeply shocking to see these statistics, which raise concerns about the adequacy of efforts to ensure vulnerable children are protected when under the care of the state.

“Urgent steps must be taken to ensure that vulnerable children are not detained in state custody and to ensure that measures are in place to provide them with the necessary community care and support they require for both their mental health and wider needs.”