An article examined the protection of rights and well-being of children in custody in England and Wales, arguing that by abolishing the use of penal institutions and placing children instead in care-based homes the state would be better able to safeguard rights and to meet its assumed responsibility to parent children whilst in custody. The article also discussed, in this context, the coalition government's proposals to introduce secure colleges for young offenders.
Source: Kathryn Hollingsworth, 'Assuming responsibility for incarcerated children: a rights case for care-based homes', Current Legal Problems, Volume 67 Issue 1
The government responded to a report by a joint committee of MPs and peers on the effect on children of the proposed introduction of a residence test for civil legal aid claimants, so as to limit legal aid to those with a 'strong connection' with the United Kingdom.
Source: Government Response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights – Legal Aid: Children and the residence test, Cm 8936, Ministry of Justice, TSO
A paper examined the experiences of children who visited parents in prison in England and Wales. It said that there had been more than half a million such visits in 2013 and that children and their families often reported the experience as traumatic. It said that prisons varied considerably in the visiting facilities available and the practices adopted, and called on the government to: appoint a lead Minister with responsibility for this group of children in England and Wales; to develop a national action plan for England, to collate and promote best practice and bring together the relevant departments and agencies; and to place a statutory duty on the courts in England and Wales to record at the point of sentencing whether prisoners had children or dependents, and to check whether the immediate arrangements for their care were adequate.
Source: Gunes Kalkan and Nicola Smith, Just Visiting: Experiences of children visiting prisons, Barnardo's
The children's watchdog for England said that changes to the legal aid system since 2013 were having serious potential effects on a wide range of children's rights. Research conducted to inform the Commissioner's impact analysis showed a reduction in legal representation in private family cases and that the 'exceptional funding' regime, created to ensure that legal aid was still given to people whose human rights were at risk, had been used in significantly fewer cases than anticipated. Two background reports were published alongside the Commissioner's impact assessment.
Source: Legal Aid Changes Since April 2013: Child rights impact assessment, Office of the Children's Commissioner
Source: Joel Carter, The Impact of Legal Aid Changes Since April 2013: Participation work with children and young people, Office of the Children's Commissioner
Source: Helen Powell, Mark Sefton, Marisol Smith, and Amy Randall, The Impact of Legal Aid Changes on Children Since April 2013: Desk-based research, Office of the Children's Commissioner
A paper examined the practice of children's rights in youth justice.
Source: Kathryn Hollingsworth, Re-Imagining Justice for Children: A new rights-based approach to youth justice, Working Paper 10/2014, Howard League for Penal Reform
A new book examined the impact on children of their parents' imprisonment, drawing on research from across Europe.
Source: Peter Scharff Smith, When the Innocent are Punished: The children of imprisoned parents, Palgrave Macmillan
A report provided findings from a research project that had examined the legal assistance systems in place for unaccompanied children in various migration and asylum procedures in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The research had looked at issues related to accessing legal assistance (such as rights to free legal assistance, information provided to unaccompanied children, referral systems, and procedural and practical obstacles in accessing available assistance), and the quality assurance of the assistance provided.
Source: Helene Soupios-David, with Elona Bokshi, Maria Hennessy, and Silvia Cravesana, Right to Justice: Quality legal assistance for unaccompanied children, European Council on Refugees and Exiles
A paper argued that a broader understanding of justice was needed in order to enable social justice to be achieved for prisoners' families.
Source: Anna Kotova, Justice and Prisoners' Families, Working Paper 5/2014, Howard League for Penal Reform
The Welsh Government began consultation on proposals to extend access to intermediary services (support to facilitate contact between adopted people and their birth relatives) to the children and grandchildren of adoptees, and to members of the adopted person's wider family, such as the spouses of their descendants. Under the proposals (which would apply to adults adopted in Wales before 30 December 2005), adopted people would be able to register a veto to prevent an intermediary agency from making contact or to say that they only wanted to be contacted in certain circumstances. The consultation would close on 27 October 2014.
Source: Extending Access to Intermediary Services for Descendants and Relatives of Adopted People, WG22541, Welsh Government
A report examined the Adult Dependent Relative Rules that provided for elderly parents or grandparents of permanent United Kingdom residents and British citizens to apply to join their family in the United Kingdom. The report considered: the policy justifications behind the rules; the number of applications made and granted before and after rule changes in 2012; the impact of the rules on families and specifically on children; whether there was a disproportionate detriment from the rules to children from a migrant background; and whether the best interests of the child had been taken into account in drafting and implementing the rules. The report concluded that the rules were unnecessarily harsh, and were not justified in fiscal terms or in controlling net migration. The report said that the rules had effectively closed off this visa category and ignored the best interests of the child, with children significantly impacted as a direct result of the rules. The report made a range of recommendations.
Source: Harsh, Unjust, Unnecessary: Report on the impact of the Adult Dependent Relative Rules on families and children, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
A new book examined whether the Common European Asylum System complied with the rights of the child.
Source: Ciara Smyth, European Asylum Law and the Rights of the Child, Routledge
The children's watchdog for England began consultation on how schools, and other organizations that delivered education services, could best promote and protect children's rights. The consultation would close on 26 September 2014.
Source: A Rights-Based Approach to Education: What are the characteristics of an education system which protects and promotes children's rights?, Office of the Children's Commissioner
Links: Consultation document
A new book examined the circumstances in which the courts could and should intervene to effect the social and economic rights of children.
Source: Aoife Nolan, Children's Socio-Economic Rights, Democracy and the Courts, Hart Publishing
A new book examined the treatment of children's rights in European asylum law and policy and, in particular, whether the Common European Asylum System complied with the rights of the child.
Source: Ciara Smyth, European Asylum Law and the Rights of the Child, Routledge
A report discussed the identification of children in the criminal justice system in England and Wales. It said that it was neither in the best interests of the child, nor of society in general, to 'name and shame', that the existing system was inconsistent, and that it was harmful to rehabilitation. The report called for a range of measures, including a change in the law to grant all children involved in criminal proceedings automatic and lifelong anonymity.
Source: Di Hart, What's in a Name? The identification of children in trouble with the law, Standing Committee for Youth Justice
The High Court ruled that anonymity provided to children involved in court proceedings (under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933) automatically expired when they reached the age of 18 and could not extend to media or other reports of the proceedings after they had reached that age.
Source: JC & Anor v The Central Criminal Court, High Court 8 April 2014
The children's watchdog for England said that their research into the operation of the United Kingdom asylum system had found hundreds of unaccompanied children and young people being left 'in limbo', where they had been given final permission to remain but were not yet old enough to gain legal employment or claim benefits. Other key findings in the report included: that there was an unresolved conflict between the leaving care and immigration legislation; that no single agency owned the duty to ensure that unaccompanied children secured legal representation; and that the prospect of detention (if refused leave to stay) meant that some young people disengaged from services and went underground, leaving them more vulnerable.
Source: "What's Going to Happen Tomorrow?" Unaccompanied children refused asylum, Office of the Children's Commissioner
A report examined the 'common weal' – a vision for a better Scotland that called for equality, mutual working, and wealth shared in common – and what it could mean for children and young people in Scotland. It said that a combination of factors contributed to discrimination against children, and argued that Scotland should now organize itself around principles of social justice, which would require a change in how adults perceived children and childhood, young people and youth.
Source: John Davis, Louise Hill, Kay Tisdall, Liam Cairns, and Selwyn McCausland, Social Justice, the Common Weal and Young People in Scotland, The Jimmy Reid Foundation
A report examined the family returns process for families that would not leave the United Kingdom voluntarily after being refused asylum, based on experiences at Cedars, a pre-departures centre in Gatwick, England. The process had been introduced in 2011, following the closure of Yarls Wood, in order to avoid the detention of children. The report said that the new system had considerably improved the experience of children and families in the 'ensured return' part of the immigration process, and that reduced numbers of children were now being held prior to removal. It said that there were still particular concerns about children being separated from their parents for the purposes of immigration control, the arrest and escort of families to and from Cedars, and non-compliant behaviour management. It also raised concern about cases where families left the Cedars but remained in the UK, and the quality of available housing. The report made recommendations.
Source: Cedars: Two years on, Barnardo's
An article examined the English law regarding children's capacity or competence to consent to, or to refuse, medical treatment. It said that the existing law was unsatisfactory in this regard and that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Deprivations of Liberty Safeguards should be applied to minors. It recommended establishing Mental Capacity Tribunals to provide legal safeguards and to support decision-making.
Source: Robin Mackenzie and John Watts, 'Is childhood a disability? Using Mental Capacity Tribunals and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards to shield children's capacity to consent to and refuse medical treatment', Tizard Learning Disability Review, Volume 19 Number 2
The Children and Families Act 2014 was given Royal assent. The Act provided for (among other things): reform of the adoption system; the introduction of greater flexibility in parental leave arrangements; reform of the system of special educational needs; strengthening the role of the children's rights watchdog; reduction in delays in the family justice system; and reduction in regulation of the childcare sector.
Source: Children and Families Act 2014, Department for Education, TSO
A report examined the extent to which public bodies in London were fulfilling children's rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It said that, despite high rates of child poverty, London was outperforming national averages in relation to many indicators, including education, breastfeeding rates, and care for looked after children. However, it said that children experienced poor outcomes in areas such as health, housing, and the criminal justice system, and that outcomes varied widely across the city's boroughs. The report called for public bodies urgently to assess and understand their performance, and for local authorities to put in place plans and systems to implement children's rights in a more comprehensive way.
Source: State of Children's Rights in London, Children's Rights Alliance for England
A report by a joint committee of MPs and peers raised concerns about the implications of provisions in the Immigration Bill, currently proceeding through the House of Lords. The committee raised particular concern about: a new clause, which would enable the government to remove United Kingdom citizenship from naturalized citizens whilst they were overseas; the impact of the Bill's provisions on children and dependents; and the protection of rights to a fair hearing/appeal.
Source: Legislative Scrutiny: Immigration Bill (second report), Twelfth Report (Session 201314), HC 1120 and HL 142, Joint Select Committee on Human Rights, TSO
The government responded to a report by a joint committee of MPs and peers on the human rights of unaccompanied migrant children to the UK.
Source: Human Rights of Unaccompanied Migrant Children and Young People in the UK, Cm 8778, Home Office, TSO
A study examined the operation of the two systems for appeal against the permanent exclusion of pupils from schools in England: the independent review panel (IRP); and, for children with special educational needs or disabilities, the first-tier tribunal exclusion appeals system. The report made recommendations.
Source: Claire Wolstenholme, Mike Coldwell, and Bernadette Stiell, Independent Review Panel and First-tier Tribunal Exclusion Appeals systems: Research report, Research Report 313, Department for Education
An article examined how citizenship was enacted by children. Drawing on a study of children aged 5-13 in Wales and France, it discussed their acts and actions of citizenship. It said that recognizing aspects of children's practices as citizenship represented a challenge to dominant definitions and could widen understandings of children's participation and agency.
Source: Cath Larkins, 'Enacting children's citizenship: developing understandings of how children enact themselves as citizens through actions and acts of citizenship', Childhood, Volume 21 Number 1
A collection of articles examined the existing and future role of the European Union in realizing children's rights.
Source: Realising the Rights of Every Child Everywhere: Moving forward with the EU, Eurochild
An article said that analyses of children's participatory roles needed to take account of the form and nature of children's relationships with adults. Drawing on the notion of intergenerational dialogue, the article explored a range of political and global themes that highlighted the participatory roles of children and their interdependence on adults.
Source: Michael Wyness, 'Children's participation and intergenerational dialogue: bringing adults back into the analysis', Childhood, Volume 20 Number 4
An article examined the socio-political drivers underpinning policy on sex and relationships education in Wales. Welsh Assembly Government guidance emphasized children's rights and citizenship values, and sought to make delivery more multi-disciplinary and integrated. Political rhetoric around sexual morality and family values was also different from, and more progressive than, that in England.
Source: Sarah Oerton and Anita Naoko Pilgrim, 'Devolution and difference: the politics of sex and relationships education in Wales', Critical Social Policy, Volume 34 Issue 1
The Supreme Court ruled that an adolescent child's view was relevant in deciding habitual residence, and that it was possible for a child to have a different habitual residence from that of the parent with whom they lived.
Source: In the matter of LC (Children)/In the matter of LC (Children) (No 2), UKSC 1 (2014), United Kingdom Supreme Court