Proportion of BAME children in UK youth custody at record high

Domiciliary Prisonsource: The Guardian
published: 28 January 2021

Self-harm and use of restraint are increasingly commonplace in the youth justice system, according to government figures that also show a record-high proportion of children in youth custody are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The government’s annual youth justice statistics, published on Thursday, show that more than half of young people in custody are black, Asian or from a minority ethnic background (BAME), a situation that the shadow justice secretary, David Lammy, described as a “national scandal”.

The figures show a significant rise in the overall use of pain-inducing restraint techniques since 2018-19. The number of restrictive physical interventions (RPIs) increased by 19% in the last year, to about 7,500 incidents. The number of self-harm incidents in child prisons increased by 35%, to about 2,500. For both measures, these were the highest number of incidents in the last five years.

The number of severe injuries suffered by children as a consequence of self-harm incidents has also risen: there were 627 injuries requiring medical treatment after self-harm in 2019-20, with 69 of these injuries requiring hospital treatment (up from 39 in 2018-19).

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