Article 39 is deeply saddened to hear that another child has died in prison.
The Youth Justice Board, which allocates children to prison places, reported the death yesterday. The boy was found in his cell at Cookham Wood young offender institution early Saturday morning. The Board’s statement says there is presently “no indication” the child died in suspicious circumstances or took his own life. An inquest will be held in due course.
Whatever the cause of this child’s death, there is no escaping the awful truth that he died alone in a prison cell.
Since 1990, the year the UK made a legal undertaking with the United Nations to only ever detain a child as a measure of last resort, 34 children have died in custody.
This latest death occurred just a few days after the publication of the report and recommendations of the Harris Review into the deaths of 83 young adults and 4 children in custody between April 2007 and December 2014.
The last inspection report into Cookham Wood young offender institution, published in October 2014, referred to “debilitating staff shortages”, children being strip-searched “under restraint” and “awful” conditions in the ‘constant watch cell’ in the prison’s segregation unit.