Child prison death warnings

Nine children and more than 190 other young people aged 24 and under have died in prisons or secure training centres in the last ten years, campaigners have said.

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Children's Commissioner: 'Lessons have been learned from child prison deaths'

It is never acceptable for a child to come to harm while they are imprisoned and this situation does need close and careful monitoring and scrutiny, as demonstrated through research such as this today.

Some lessons have been learned from previous tragedies with action undertaken to prevent another young life tragically ending.

The findings from this research will be extremely helpful to aid further improvements in this area.

– Maggie Atkinson, the Children's Commissioner for England

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Report: 'Young victims were placed in unsafe cells'

  • Many of those who died were vulnerable - from disadvantaged backgrounds or experiencing mental health and addiction problems, the report found.
  • Victims were said to be placed in prisons with unsafe environments and cells
  • The penal system failed to differentiate between adults and young adults within the system, the report added.
  • There was a failure in communication between prisons and community agencies, campaigners said.

Ministry of Justice: 'Strenuous efforts are made to learn from child prison deaths'

Every death in custody is a tragedy for families and friends and has a profound effect on staff and other prisoners.

Young people in custody are some of the most vulnerable and troubled individuals in society and their safety is our highest priority.

Strenuous efforts are made to learn from each death and improve our understanding and procedures for caring for prisoners.

Findings from relevant reports and inquests are examined and incorporated into policies with guidance and lessons learned shared with custodial staff.

– A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman

Campaigners demand inquiry into teenage prison deaths

This shocking death toll has been obscured for far too long.

Working on a daily basis with bereaved families, we see inquest after inquest raising the same issues and, despite promises of change, the deaths continue.

It is difficult to comprehend how, despite the persistent death toll, there has been a repeated refusal and resistance to holding a holistic inquiry to examine the wider systemic and policy issues underlying the deaths of children and young people in custody.

– Deborah Coles, co-director of Inquest

After 200 deaths in 10 years, it is time to learn that locking up our most vulnerable children and young people in our bleakest institutions is a process that is fatally flawed.

– Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust

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Young victims 'most disadvantaged in society'

Children and young people are being failed by the systems set up to safeguard them from harm, the report by the Prison Reform Trust and the Inquest campaign group found.

Nine children and more than 190 other young people aged 24 and under have died in prisons or secure training centres in the last ten years, campaigners have said.

The report, which looked at the experiences of 98 children and young people who died, found they were "some of the most disadvantaged in society" and had experienced problems with mental health, self-harm, alcohol and drugs.

In many cases there were communication failures between community agencies and prisons while, in others, they were placed in prisons with unsafe environments and cells, the report said.

It added that poor medical care and limited access to therapeutic services in prison also caused problems and some children and young people had been exposed to bullying, segregation or restraint.

Mother's court fight for inquiry into son's death in custody

The mother of a teenager who committed suicide in prison ten years ago has said she is 'saddened' by the report into the number of deaths by young people and teenagers in prison.

Joseph Scholes hanged himself in prison ten years ago Credit: PA Archive

16-year-old Joseph Scholes hanged himself in his cell at Stoke Heath Young Offenders' Institution in Shropshire on March 24 2002 - nine days into a two-year sentence for robbery.

Nine children and more than 190 other young people aged 24 and under have died in prisons or secure training centres since calls for a review went unfulfilled following the death of Joseph 10 years ago, campaigners said.

Yvonne Bailey, Joseph's mother, who has long called for a public inquiry, said: "It is now over a decade since my son Joseph died in fear and distress hanging from the window bars of his squalid cell in a children's prison.

"The deaths of a further nine young boys are devastating evidence that the changes implemented were yet again wholly insufficient to fulfil the duty on the state to protect the right to life of the children it imprisons.

"I am saddened and perplexed by the continuing and repeated refusal of successive governments to properly investigate through a public inquiry the circumstances that have led to the deaths of child prisoners."

Criminal justice system 'has let down young people'

The criminal justice system and community services "have demonstrably let young people down, for all the wrong reasons, for far too long", Lord Ramsbotham said.

Too often 'tough' talk about crime and punishment does not result in the authoritative action needed to rectify the flaws in our criminal justice system.

Until and unless named individuals are made responsible and accountable for ensuring that things happen, nothing will happen.

I think that it should be a matter of serious concern that the findings in Fatally Flawed echo what has been said, repeatedly, for years, and are a devastating indictment of bad practice.

Warning over deaths of children and young people in prison

Nine children and more than 190 other young people aged 24 and under have died in prisons or secure training centres in the last ten years, campaigners have said.

Systemic failures in prisons are contributing to the deaths of children, the report found Credit: PA Archive

Systemic failures in prisons, the criminal justice system and community agencies are contributing to the deaths of children and young people in custody, a report has found.

The lack of action over the past decade is a "devastating indictment of bad practice", former chief inspector of prisons Lord Ramsbotham said.