A committee of MPs has ruled that plans to allow staff at a new “secure college” to use force to ensure discipline must be watered down, as they would breach young offenders’ human rights.
Detailed plans were drawn up earlier this month for an £85m facility in Leicestershire for young offenders, where, for the first time ever in England and Wales, the focus would be on education rather than on detention.
However, although the plans stated that the college would need discipline for the inmates, Parliament’s joint committee on human rights said that proposals in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill to allow authorised staff to use “reasonable force where necessary to ensure good order and discipline” was a clear breach of international standards.
Instead, the committee recommended that the Bill should be amended to make explicit that secure college rules can only authorise the use of reasonable force on children as a last resort, only for the purposes of preventing harm to the child or others and that only the minimum force necessary should be used.
A Court of Appeal ruling had made it clear “that it is incompatible with Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights for any law, whether primary of secondary legislation, to authorise the use of children and young people for the purposes of good order and discipline.
Moreover, the committee accused the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) of failing to take into accounts the rights afforded children under a number of international agreements to which the UK is a signatory, even though the MoJ had earlier agreed to do so.
MPS also found that ministers had failed to provide sufficient clear and transparent justifications for the proposed imposition in the Bill of increased sentences for some terror offences.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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