UK govt. warned over child imprisonment
The British government has been warned against thousands of children being put behind bars for minor offences while social services are being drastically cut. The British think tank fighting against inequalities in income, wealth, and power, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), has revealed that 5,000 British children have been “needlessly dumped in prison” due to the British government’s severe cuts to traditional support services.
The report by the CSJ, due to be published on Monday 16 January, has obtained input from senior police officers and asserts that thousands of children are now being held behind bars for offences as minor as fighting on the playground.
“As a society, we can do better than simply condemn these children for their crimes. We believe there are more effective and demanding ways of delivering justice than through punishment alone,” said Gavin Poole, executive director of the CSJ.
The revelations are made as ex-minister, Ian Austin, has urged Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to follow the lead of Belgium by sending British inmates to prisons in foreign countries to ease overcrowding in British jails.
As experts predict that the number of prisoners in Britain will reach the record high of 89,463 this year, Austin has asked the government to send British prisoners to prisons in Poland and other Eastern European countries.
Nevertheless, the proposal has been criticized by human rights activists as they maintain it would make the situation harder for prisoners’ families as they would have to travel abroad in order to visit their family members.
Britain’s prisons have been facing crisis since the unprecedented unrest in August last year. Those who were arrested over involvement in the unrest were jailed for an average of 10.4 months compared to an average of 5.3 months for those arrested over similar offences the year before.