Cameras with sound recording should be installed in youth custody and police stations say children and young people

Date: 14th November 2012
Category: Civil Rights and Freedoms, Equal protection from violence
Author: Children’s Rights Alliance for England

CRAE has published a research report presenting children's experiences of violence in custody and setting out their suggestions for creating violence-free custodial settings.

A team of young investigators led the research and helped to draft the report's 19 recommendations aimed at Government ministers, the Youth Justice Board, Governors of custodial settings, police forces and judges. A group of young people with direct experience of custody are now campaigning on two of the recommendations.

Children and young people talked about the conditions that create violence in custody. They described a claustrophobic atmosphere where boredom, frustration and stress act as triggers for violence. Young people explained how the actions of staff can lead to 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: 'sometimes it's not right, they go over the top... they hurt people' (Male, 16).

Several interviewees described police officers using humiliating and threatening language and higher levels of force than experienced in custody. One female (aged 16) said, 'In police stations I've had my finger slammed in cell doors... And I've almost broken my jaw when he slammed us down on concrete...' One of the report's recommendations calls for cameras with sound recording to be installed in custodial and police settings to monitor behaviour and ensure greater staff transparency and accountability..

The recommendations also call for the authorities to relieve the claustrophobic atmosphere in custodial settings that contributes to violence by engaging young people in physical activities; for greater emphasis on talking as a means of resolving conflict in custody and for staff in youth custodial settings to have experience of working with young people and be able to relate to them well.