Abolish solitary confinement for children and young people

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has called on the Government to take immediate steps to end the solitary confinement of children and young people in the youth justice system.

The RCPCH, together with the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the BMA, has today published a position statement which also calls for adequate resources and staff in the youth secure estate to develop systems to manage and meet the needs of detained children and young people without recourse to solitary confinement.

Dr Alison Steele, Child Protection Officer for the RCPCH, said:

“Solitary confinement should not be used on children and young people. It can have a profound impact on their health and wellbeing. It also leads to underlying issues being left unaddressed which can have devastating consequences.

“Children and young people held in secure settings have three times the prevalence of mental health disorders compared to the general population, with depression and anxiety being the most common. A large number – over 50% – also have learning disabilities. Therefore, adults working in these settings must be sensitive to their needs.

“This change in practice is essential and needs to be adopted with urgency but in the meantime, it is imperative we meet the health needs of all young people in secure settings. All health staff have a role to play and paediatricians in particular, must ensure all information relating to the young person’s health, with appropriate consent, is supplied to those looking after them.”