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Tuesday 11th of August 2020

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Children in prison twice as likely to have special needs, figures show

Monday 5th of August 2019 | Europe, United Kingdom
The Independent
News

Exclusive: Experts warn sending youngsters with special educational needs to jail ‘only compounds damage caused’, condemning ‘failure’ of services to provide for children in community

Children in prison are twice as likely to have special educational needs as those in the general population, new figures reveal, prompting concern that vulnerable teenagers are being let down by mainstream services.

Data from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) reveals 30 per cent of children who entered custody over 2018-19 were assessed as having special educational needs or disabilities. Separate government data shows that less than 15 per cent of children nationally fall into this category.

Experts said this discrepancy highlighted the “failure” of educational and other services to properly provide for such children in the community, and that sending them to “increasingly chaotic and violent” jails only compounded the damage caused.

Special educational needs refers to children with learning problems or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most youngsters the same age, leading to difficulties with schoolwork, communication or behaviour.

The MoJ said an assessment is carried out for all children and young people on entry into custody, allowing for early identification of needs and requirements to support their care.

But MPs and charities said placing these children in institutions designed for punishment was “no solution”, and that too often instead of receiving skilled support they were being “locked up behind a metal door for hours on end with little intervention or care”.

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  • International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO). Belgian Public Utility Foundation

    All rights reserved

  • Head Office: Rue Armand Campenhout, nº 72 bte 10. 1050. Brussels. Belgium

    Phone: 00 32 262 988 90. Fax: 00 32 262 988 99. oijj@oijj.org

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