Taken from the BBC news website
'No jail protection for children'
Children in jail will not be protected by new rules which include the use of physical restraint, the Howard League for Penal Reform says.
Under the rules, due in September, children could spend hours alone in cells with little education or exercise and be routinely stripped, it says.
The criticism comes as a 14 year old was found hanged at a private remand centre in Co Durham.
Adam Rickwood is believed to be the youngest child to die in custody.
Pressure group Inquest has described the youngster's death, in a cell at the Hassockfield secure training centre in Medomsley, near Consett, in the early hours of Monday, as "deeply shocking".
Co-director Deborah Coles said: "It highlights the dangerous consequences of locking up children."
She said the home secretary "must take urgent action to address what is a serious and disturbing human rights issue - the death and suffering of children while in the custody of the state".
The rules had to be rewritten after a 2002 High Court victory by the Howard League over the use of children's laws in prison. They are due to be issued to governors as a Prison Service Order in September.
The League's director, Frances Crook, has written to Home Secretary David Blunkett to protest that the proposed rules will be ineffective in protecting the 2,800 children who it says are in prisons in England and Wales.
In the letter, she details concerns about rules allowing for routine stripping including the inspection of the genital area of children "despite the fact that many children in prison have been sexually abused".
The letter also complains that the proposed rules allow for "pain-compliant physical restraint, a system designed to control adults". Ms Cook said: "Our research and case studies show that children experience physical abuse in prison when restrained, held in solitary confinement and forcibly stripped."
A comprehensive child protection policy should also protect children from bullying and violence by other teenagers, she added. In the letter, she also complained that the new order was vague in specifying the "number of purposeful hours" spent out of cells. And provision for education was "diluted" so that children in jail would not be allowed a minimum number of hours of education. The Youth Justice Board said 95% of those in young offender institutions will spend less than 14 hours a day locked in their rooms by next March.
A Home Office spokesman said the Prison Service considers current searching procedures are "necessary and justified" against juveniles.
"Whilst we recognise that adolescents may be more sensitive about their physical appearance, they are as likely as adult prisoners to hide a variety of contraband," he said, adding that the frequency of searches is decided by individual facilities.
And he said a three-month trial of new juvenile restraint techniques was planned for the end of the year.
"And all that was left was hope"
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