The European project on Ending Violence against Children in Custody has published its first report. This project was coordinated by Children Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) and was based on the definition of violence in Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which guarantees every child the right to protection from physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.
This Project aims to identify and empower children and young people with experience of custody to investigate the views of other children and young people deprived of liberty in custody. Working together, these children have made their own recommendations for reducing violence in custody and to develop their own campaigning activities. The Ending Violence against Children in Custody project was implemented by: The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights – Austria, The Commissioner for Children’s Rights – Cyprus, Defence for Children International – the Netherlands, Save the Children – Romania, Children Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) and the International Juvenile Justice Observatory in Belgium.
“Speaking freely. Children and young people in Europe talk about ending violence against children in custody” presents the views and experiences of over 120 children and young people across Europe on violence in custody and presents their suggestions for change. The report sets out the findings of research conducted by young investigators in Austria, Cyprus, England, the Netherlands and Romania with children and young people in custody and includes recommendations for ending violence in custody aimed at governments, governors of custodial settings, prison officers, police forces, and judges.
Children and young people described a claustrophobic atmosphere in custody where boredom, frustration and stress act as triggers for violence. ‘There is not much to do. Then we start looking for something, irritations arise and fighting starts.’ (Male, 17, the Netherlands). Young people in all the partner countries called for there to be more positive activities in prison to help reduce tension.
Many of the young people felt that staff provoke violence in custody. Staff members were criticised for goading young people by bringing up their offence and for using force excessively when intervening in an incident. Young people in Austria, Cyprus, England and the Netherlands called on the authorities to look again at the kinds of staff who are employed in youth custodial settings and to employ people who are able to relate to young people.
Read the report here