Child custody campaign ends after five years

By Neil Puffett

| 12 September 2012

A high-profile campaign to reduce numbers of children in custody is to conclude by the end of the year when its funding finishes, it has been confirmed.

The number of under-18s in custody currently stands at 1,690. Image: Becky Nixon

The Prison Reform Trust launched the Out of Trouble campaign in 2007 with £1.5m in funding from The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, which itself closes in December.

The campaign has worked to highlight issues around child imprisonment at both national and local levels, collecting and publishing evidence on inappropriate imprisonment, lobbying government for changes to the law and influencing agencies in the youth justice system.

Penelope Gibbs, director of the Out of Trouble programme, said the trust would continue to keep a “watching brief” on youth custody, but the area will no longer form part of the charity’s core work.

“The youth custody population has gone down significantly in the past five years and with the legislative changes to remand, it could potentially go down more,” she said.

“The Prison Reform Trust will keep a watching brief on what’s going on in youth justice and will continue to be a member of the Standing Committee for Youth Justice.

“We feel we have had a real push on children in custody and we have now got some funding to look at trying to reduce imprisonment among women using the lessons learned from Out of Trouble.”

During the lifetime of the programme, youth custody levels have reduced considerably. In June this year the under-18 custodial population stood at 1,690, compared to 2,909 in June 2007, a drop of 42 per cent.

Gibbs will leave her role when the programme closes but is establishing a new charity called Transform Justice, to “create a more humane, open and effective justice system in England and Wales”.

She will continue in her role as vice chair of the Standing Committee for Youth Justice.


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