PET calls for education to be reinstated in children’s prisons

Home > PET calls for education to be reinstated in children’s prisons

19 June 2020

HMP Pentonville Prison, art class

The Separation Taskforce and YJB Board Member Sir Alan Wood yesterday published a report on the issue of separation of children in Young Offenders’ Institutions, making 14 recommendations to the Ministry of Justice and HM Prison and Probation Service.

Commenting on the report, Rod Clark, Chief Executive of Prisoners’ Education Trust, said:

“It seems ironic that the review of separation practice for children in prison should be published when hundreds of imprisoned children are currently experiencing separation conditions due to the Covid-19 crisis. These children have already lost three months of taught education and have no access to online alternatives.

“Isolating children negatively effects well-being and creates trauma. Removing children from education disrupts progress and attainment and has a significant impact on future life chances. Children need to learn in safe, engaging, pro-social spaces, and to have face-to-face contact with teachers and peers.

“While we are pleased that the review calls for the role of education during separation to be clarified, and recommends that children have access to more activities, the review does not go far enough.

“We are disappointed that it did not fundamentally question the practice of solitary confinement for children. In his recent report, the Chief Inspector of Prisons called for a complete system overhaul and found that prison managers had failed to prevent children from being subject to harmful regimes for extended periods of time.

“In the short term, we call on the Youth Custody Service to facilitate out-of-cell education for children swiftly and safely. It has been possible to facilitate this in one YOI and therefore it is possible in others.

“Longer term, we ask the Youth Custody Service to end the current practice of solitary confinement for children, with its damaging consequences for education and wellbeing.”

Notes to editors:

  • Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) is a charity working across every prison in England and Wales. Last year we helped people in prison start just over 1,700 courses across 200 different subjects and levels – from GCSEs and vocational courses to the start of degrees. We also carry out policy work, evaluating the quality of and access to prison education.
  • For interviews or further information please email Calum Walker, Media and Communications Manager, or call on 07824 189661.
  • The Separation Taskforce was commissioned to consider the arrangements for separating children in Young Offenders Institutions and to formulate a response following publication in January 2020 of the report by HM Inspector of Prisons and Probation: Separation of children in young offender institutions – A Thematic Review.
  • The findings of the Separation Taskforce can be found here and the review of separation by the Chief Inspector of Prisons here.

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