Jailing of teenagers 'Dickensian'

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The Independent Online
The Government was yesterday criticised for locking up children alongside seasoned criminals in one of the country's "scruffy and unclean" Victorian jails, writes Heather Mills.

Describing the detention of those aged 15 and 16 as "totally unacceptable", Judge Stephen Tumim, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: "We were appalled at the Dickensian picture of children in a Victorian prison who were there because of lack of provision in the community."

He was reporting on Hull prison where nine children - some convicted, some on remand - were being held. Judge Tumim said they appeared young for their age and were "severely damaged children who were likely, in those surroundings, to pick up further criminal habits".

Their imprisonment had been caused by a doubling of the number of children sentenced to or requiring secure accommodation in recent months. Priority for local authority care was given to those aged 14 and under.

Yesterday, the Prison Service said that since the judge's visit, special staff had been recruited and training was now in place to help all inmates under 21.