Councils ‘Failing’ Child Prisoners

Councils are failing to support child criminals who are released from prison, a report has claimed. The Howard League for Penal Reform said young inmates were being “sidelined” because of a tendency to regard them as “undeserving of mainstream rights and services”. Its report pointed out that town halls had a duty to care for such children on release from jail.

Leaving them homeless and without support could simply lead young criminals back into committing more offences, it said.

The Howard League’s Chris Callender said: “Not only do these children have a right to be cared for properly but if they are not they will continue to wreak mayhem in their communities and put themselves at risk.

“They absolutely must be given appropriate support for their sake and for the sake of all of us.”

The report said there was a “growing tendency” among some professionals to regard child criminals as “offenders first and children second”. It said: “Children who commit offences are being sidelined as if they are undeserving of mainstream rights and services. The impression given by some children’s services is that they have more ‘deserving’ children in their caseload than a child leaving custody.”

There was also pressure on resources and inadequate assessments of child offenders’ needs, it went on. There were 2,951 children in custody in the UK at the end of last month.