Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

Skip Content

Archbishop Criticises 'Indefensible' Treatment of Young People in Prison

Wednesday 6th February 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called upon the government to look critically at the use of strip-searching and prison segregation units for children in the criminal justice system.

Asking a question in the House of Lords, the Archbishop invited the government to agree that different standards in how society treats its children and how it treats those children that are in prison were "indefensible".

The question was asked as a supplementary to an oral question tabled by Lord Judd on the use of restraint and the treatment of young people in the criminal justice system. In his reply, the minister Lord Hunt confirmed that the Youth Justice Board intended to review the use of strip-searching, but did not respond on the points made about standards or the use of segregation.

The Archbishop's intervention follows his call in November 2007 for a raise in the age of criminal responsibility and for the needs of the child not to be overlooked when considering their treatment in the criminal justice system.

The full text of the Archbishop's question and the minister's reply is below, from Hansard:

The Archbishop of Canterbury:

My Lords, I take it that the Minister would agree that it is quite indefensible that different standards should prevail in our national criteria to do with the care and protection of children and in the criminal justice system. I invite him also to agree that that means that the use of strip-searching and segregation in the criminal justice system for children is something that needs a very sharp examination, as the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, recommended in his report for the Howard League a couple of years ago.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath:

My Lords, I am grateful to the most reverend Primate for that question. With regard to strip-searching, I understand that the Youth Justice Board plans to have a review of it very shortly—and obviously we would be very interested to see the outcome. The principal objective of the youth justice system has to be the prevention of offending, because it is within the criminal justice system. However, alongside that, of course the welfare considerations of the child must also be considered.

Back · Back to top