COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Howard League supports court action with lobbying offensive

Simon Ellery

A High Court action to force the Government to extend child protection rules to child prisoners is to be followed by a lobbying campaign.

The Howard League for Penal Reform has taken the Home Secretary to the High Court arguing that the Children Act 1989 applies to children in prison.

All evidence has been given and a result is expected within two weeks.

The campaign has been boosted by backing from ChildLine, the Children's Society, NACRO, NCB, Save the Children, NSPCC, Barnardo's and NCH. It has also benefited from a letter in The Times by Cherie Booth QC who raised the issue of child welfare.

Several of the eight national children's and penal reform charities pledged financial support if the Howard League lost the case and faced paying the Home Office's legal costs.

A win would see children in prison afforded assistance from social services departments and would trigger the next step in the campaign. That would include raising support, mainly from MPs, to convince the Government to include an amendment to the forthcoming Criminal Justice Bill to confer greater protection for children in prison.

Howard League's assistant director Fran Russell said: "We have some MPs that are supportive and we expect them to widen support within Parliament."

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