Full Story: http://www.stopinjusticenow.com/News_0819.htm
Vulnerable children in the North have been imprisoned as a substitute for proper social care, a watchdog warned today. Custody has been used for trivial offences in breach of international safeguards, Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland found. Inappropriate incarceration is more evident than in other parts of the UK, the authority said. When unsure how to deal with them they were placed in custody as much for their own safety as in response to their offending behaviour, the dossier said. Such placements breach international safeguards and inappropriate use of custody for children remains a more pronounced problem in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK. Inspectors from Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI) found that Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre which opened in Bangor, Co Down, in January 2007, was well-managed and provided many examples of good practice. Their report, Inspection of Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre, said the main concern arose from the high turnover of young people and the fact that a disproportionate number came directly from residential care. It found that three-quarters of looked-after children (cared for by the state because of abuse, neglect or behaviour problems) who entered secure accommodation had convictions. Research suggested that the gate-keeping process for secure care could actually lead to children being placed in the juvenile justice centre if they did not meet the strict secure care criteria; and trivial offences provided the opportunity to use custody as quasicare. However, that was not the juvenile justice centres purpose and it could be of no benefit for marginalised children to experience custody for insufficient reason.