Last week the Government has announced there will be a review into the deaths of 18-24 year olds in prison. This was announced in a Written Ministerial Statement (see http://bit.ly/LBgHhJ) and the full terms of reference can be found on the MoJ’s website: www.justice.gov.uk/about/deaths-in-custody-independent-review. This was followed up with a wide-ranging debate in the House of Lords following a question tabled by Lord David Ramsbotham.
- There will be a review into the self-inflicted deaths of 18-24 year olds in prison custody;
- The Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody, chaired by Lord Toby Harris, will conduct that review and will report in Spring 2015 (More about the IAP here: http://iapdeathsincustody.independent.gov.uk/);
- The review’s terms of reference will focus on: identifying and managing vulnerable young offenders; information sharing including from agencies outside the criminal justice system; safety in custody; staff-prisoner relationships; family contact; and staff training;
- The government’s response to their much-criticised consultation on Transforming Management of Young Adults in Custody has been put on hold until they have received the recommendations from the IAP review;
- It will NOT specifically examine the deaths of under-18s as the Government asserts their “situation” is distinct and is being considered in other ways (through work by the YJB, the NOMS Young Peoples’ Working Group etc);
- It will NOT be tasked with considering why the young people who died ended up in custody in the first place.
Like other organisations we find the decision around the deaths of children very disappointing – particularly in light of recent, deeply worrying announcements about the treatment of children in custody and the proposals in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill (published yesterday) which would allow staff at secure colleges the power to use force on children and young people to “ensure good order and discipline”. (See more at http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1141990/critics-attack-illegal-plan-force-secure-colleges). We will be working with other organisations on this issue and will input into the inquest where possible.
We will be keeping up the pressure on the government about this (and, of course, inputting to the review into the deaths of 18-24 year olds).