Monday, 9 June 2008

The Times: Law creates underclass of child criminals

(Ed: But see also this here by a young offender who spent time in youth custody: BBC News: 'Doing time didn't put me off crime')

Britain has been condemned as a bleak place for children, where thousands are needlessly criminalised for misdemeanours and where the gap between the education and health of the rich and poor is growing.

The four Children’s Commissioners for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have issued a report for the United Nations condemning the punitive youth justice system and the vilification of teenagers as yobs.

The commissioners say that Britain is breaching the Children’s Rights Convention in several areas.

The number of crimes committed by children fell between 2002 and 2006, but, according to research cited by the report, convictions rose by 26 per cent, leading to fears that a young criminal underclass is building. In the past misdemeanours were dealt with by cautions; the trend now is for police to bring charges.

Britain detains more children than any other country in Western Europe, with 2,900 under18s locked up in the past year. Thirty children have died in custody since 1990, yet there has never been a public inquiry into conditions in youth detention centres. Read more
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