Child imprisonment is wrong – let’s end it
Mark Johnson is right that we should feel deeply uncomfortable about incarcerating children (Children in prison are struggling but no one really cares, 7 November). Official data shows that 42% of children in young offender institutions were previously in care and one in five is disabled. A high number of children enter prison already the subject of local authority child protection plans. Mental health difficulties are common. Yet prisons cannot meet even children’s very basic needs, with many locked in their cells for 22 hours a day and kept permanently scared and hungry.
We have come together to say enough is enough. Later this month, in the House of Lords, we launch England’s first collaborative campaign to end child imprisonment. Children’s lives, wellbeing and rehabilitation are matters for the social welfare system. The minority of children who have to be detained for safety reasons should be looked after in places where all of their needs are met, and their rights protected. These establishments must be managed within our child welfare system, rather than the part of government responsible for adult imprisonment.
Carolyne Willow Deborah Coles Frances Crook Barry Anderson Atkinson Maggie Richard Garside