Bereaved mothers complain vulnerable children in custody treated 'like animals'

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The Independent Online

The mothers of two teenage boys who killed themselves in detention centres called yesterday for a public inquiry into the way children are treated by the criminal justice system.

Yvonne Scholes and Carol Pounder said vulnerable children were treated "like animals" and accused David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, of a whitewash. Mrs Scholes told a parliamentary meeting: "This is a long term and growing national scandal which is being whitewashed by the Government. The Home Secretary must be told to explain why he allows children to be taken into detention that he knows is unacceptable."

Her son Joseph, who had suicidial tendencies, was 16 when he was found hanging at Stoke Heath young offenders institution, Shropshire, in 2002.

In August, 14-year-old Adam Rickwood, who also had a history of depression, became the youngest person to die in custody. He was found hanging at the Hassockfield secure training centre in Co Durham.

Mrs Pounder, Adam's mother, told the meeting organised by the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders and lobby group Inquest: "We need this inquiry so that we can find out what is going wrong."