Letter: Privatised care of troubled children is not the answer

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Sir: I am disappointed that you should print such a one-sided and opinionated piece on Aycliffe Centre for Children ('Legacy of the demon master', 25 August).

Beatrix Campbell glosses over the fact that Aycliffe contains children who have committed and been convicted of very serious crimes, sentenced under Section 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, some effectively to life sentences.

I do not wish to comment on the allocation to Aycliffe of children who have not been convicted of a crime, nor whether it 'works' for them. However, for Section 53 cases, Home Office research published last year has shown that it and other secure children's homes do seem to work, at least better than the only alternative, a young offender institution (prison).

Furthermore, the research was mainly conducted by a woman, so Ms Campbell will not be able to dismiss it on grounds of gender as she has done Dr Hoghughi.

In many institutions the victims of rape co-habit with the perpetrators of rape - in some because they are of the same sex, in others because the offender has been diverted from prosecution by social services.

Yours sincerely,


London, SW4

25 August