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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

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

A new report published by the Howard League for Penal Reform has revealed that conditions for the vast majority of children in custody, boys aged 15-17, are not improving despite falls in the population in prison.

The Howard League has found that despite a 22 per cent reduction in the total number of children in custody over the last three years, the reduction has not been used as an opportunity to lower the proportion housed in young offender institutions, the most basic form of custody for children. The charity said that the fact that three quarters of children reoffend on release from prison shows that poor treatment exacerbates crime.

Life inside 2010: A unique insight into the day to day experiences of 15-17 year old males in prison is the first policy report to be published as part of the U R Boss project, supported by the Big Lottery Fund. The report was developed in conjunction with young people currently in custody and released into the community. Through a series of workshops and one to one work, young people identified the topic of this report, the issues they wanted discussed and key lessons for policy makers and practitioners.

The verdict of the young people they talked to was that prison was failing to help them. As one young person told us, "prison doesn’t do anything for you. They just hold you, feed you and give you somewhere to sleep".

Standards of education in prison received particular criticism from the young people working with the Howard League. Young people described how education "is really poor in prisons", where "all they do is pull out bits of paper and make people copy them". Those young people who had been in prison for longer periods described how "before we used to get 25 hours of education [a week], but now because of budget cuts we just get 15."

Howard League Director Frances Crook said:

"We have listened to young people in custody and produced a report that reflects their views and feelings about prison. The result is a damning indictment of a broken system that promotes violence and fails to provide education and services."
"Despite welcome falls in the number of children in custody, this hasn’t been used as an opportunity to improve conditions for those who remain in prison. Now that the youth justice system faces cuts of up to 25 per cent, to what new lows can we go in failing children who are in trouble with the law?"

The young people highlight numerous other failings in prisons, including:

  • Automatic strip-searching on arrival to prison despite this being the most vulnerable time for children entering custody
  •  Failure to receive a daily shower
  •  A failure to achieve targets allowing children time out of cell
  •  Poor relations with staff due to staff ratios as low as three staff to every 60 young people
  • Endemic violence and bullying where "the environment in prisons doesn’t make you want to achieve anything... Everything’s about violence".
  • A disproportionate use of physical restraint and use of segregation where "Young people come out more violent. You can’t tell what it’s done to them."
  • Failures in the quality and quantity of food resulting in poor concentration in classes and an adverse effect on behaviour
  • • Young people reporting an average cost of 65p a minute for phone calls to family and a lack of family visits due to the distance children are jailed from their homes
  •  failure to engage children in their sentence planning, resulting in meetings that involve "a bunch of people arguing over things they can’t control"