End Child Imprisonment!

How many more children must die, whilst in the alleged ‘care’ of the state, before the government abolish the inhumane incarceration of children?

Sharon Hartles photo

Sharon Hartles is a MA Postgraduate Crime and Justice student with the Open University.  She has an interest in crimes of the powerful, including state and state-corporate crime.  In an explicit attempt to move beyond criminology, she draws upon a zemiological approach to evidence the social, political and economic context in which crime is produced and interwoven into society via socio-economic inequalities.

As of the 27th June 2019, thirty five children (aged 17 or under) have died in penal custody in England and Wales since the 13th July 1990. This death rate equates to an average of one death every ten months. The social blindness and on the whole social acceptance/denial of this outdated and barbaric form of harm, by the vast majority, underpinned through the punitive desire to punish wrongdoers, must end. There has to be a better way, an alternative form of penance, which must be framed by an overarching consensus to reconcile and restore harm produced within, and by harmful societies.

On the 13th July 1990, Philip Knight became the youngest person to commit suicide in a prison in the United Kingdom. The prison where this tragedy took place was for adult, male prisoners aged 18 or over: Philip Knight was a 15 year old child. Alan Williams, Swansea West MP, (1964 – 2010) declared to the House of Commons, on the 26th July 1990, that Philip had been sent to a Swansea category B/C male prison because “nowhere else could be found for him”. About a week before Philip committed suicide by hanging himself, he had cut his wrists. As a 15 year old child it can be claimed, that Philip lacked the necessary life experiences on which to draw upon, which left him less able to manage suicidal and bleak thoughts, demonstrating why there is a clear need to abolish the imprisonment for children.

Following on from Philip Knight’s death, between 1990 and the 6th October 2002, 24 more children aged between 15 years and 17 years, suffered apparently self-inflicted deaths. With the exception of Chris Greenway, aged 16, who died in 1995 and whose death was categorised as murder/homicide, the victims include: David Dennis, aged 17 (died 30th May 2000), Philip Griffin, aged 17 (died 1st August 2000), Kevin Henson, aged 17 (died 6th September 2000), Anthony Redding, aged 16 (died 15th February 2001), Mark Dade, aged 16 (died 27th July 2001), Kevin Jacobs, aged 16 (died 29th September 2001), Joseph Scholes, aged 16 (died 24th March 2002) and Ian Powell, aged 17 (died 6th October 2002) to detail just eight out of twenty-three deaths.

On the 9th April 2004, Gareth Myatt, a 15 year of child died in prison custody, whilst in Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre near Rugby. Unlike the 24 out of 25 categorised self-inflicted deaths aforementioned, Gareth was the first child to die while being restrained in custody. Gareth was less than five feet tall and weighted six and a half stone (this being the average height and weight for a twelve year old boy). Gareth’s physical stature was clearly that of a young child. However, this did not stop three officers (David Beadnall, David Bailey and Diana Smith) restraining Gareth in the seated double embrace restraint position in an ordeal which lasted for six or seven minutes. During this time Gareth was told by David Beadnall ‘if you can talk then you can breathe’, and you are going to have to shit yourself. Gareth died as he was held down in the restraint position from positional asphyxia after choking on his own vomit. Yet, on the 28th June 2007 a jury ruled Gareth’s death to be accidental.

Four months after Gareth Myatt’s death, Adam Rickwood, died on the 8th August 2004, aged 14. To date, Adam is the youngest child to die in custody in England and Wales. His death categorised as self-inflicted. A further 8 children have died since August 2004 including: Gareth Price, aged 16 (died 20th January 2005), Sam Elphick, aged 17 (died 15th September 2005), Liam McManus, aged 15 (died 29th November 2007), Ryan Clark, aged 17 (died 18th April 2011), Jake Hardy, aged 17, (died 24th January 2012), Alex Kelly, aged 15, (died 25th January 2012), Daniel Adewole, aged 16 (died 4th July 2015) and Caden Steward, aged 16, (died 27th June 2019) to catalogue the latest in this series of deaths.

Thirty-five children aged between 14 to 17 years, all boys, have died in prisons over a 29-year period from 1990 to 2019. 31 out of these 35 deaths have been categorised as self-inflicted. This excludes Chris Greenway’s death which was categorised as homicide, Gareth Myatt’s death which was categorised as accidental, Daniel Adewole which was categorised as natural causes and Caden Steward’s which is not believed to be self-inflicted, yet it is not being treated as suspicious. 34 out of these 35 deaths have taken place in Secure Training Centres (STCs for children aged 12 to 17) or Young Offender Institutions (YOIs for children aged 15 to 17), with the exception of Philip Knight whose self-inflicted death took place in an adult male prison. It is ironic that the STCs and YOIs are establishments that the Ministry of Justice commissions from Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service claim to provide ‘specialist’ custodial places for children aged 12 to 17.

The rebranding and relabelling as ‘Secure Training Centres’ and ‘Youth Offender Institutions’ helps to maintain a smoke and mirrors mirage. These are nothing short of childrens prisons. Further labelisation via the categorisation of self-infliction of these children’s deaths does little but detract away from the trauma, harm and abuse that such institutions which incarcerate children like STCs and YOIs perpetuate. There is a huge body of evidence detailing systemic abuse and child maltreatment within STCs and YOIs, delivered at the hands of Serco and G4S custody officers:

The private sectors such as Serco and G4S have increasingly influential workings on the criminal process. Both assume the right to punish on behalf of the government and as such manage and deliver (in)justice services. Fundamentally, the child abuse which takes place in STCs and YOIs is state-supported and state-sanctioned.

This emergence of the marketisation and privatisation of the prison industrial complex has led to the favoured response of imprisoning children because it is a booming business and there is profit to be made in the ‘corrections’ industry. It appears to be the case that as long as operational obligations are met, profit from the operation of the incarceration of children together with the inhumane practices implemented are in the main hidden away from the public. Interestingly, up until July 2016, all of the Secure Training Centres were run by private companies. This helps to explain why even with all the evidence detailing why we should abolish imprisonment for children, record numbers of children in England and Wales continue to be incarcerated to sustain capitalist profit.

Even though the UK Government, in December 2016, admitted that prisons cannot be made fit for children, children continue to be detained in STCs and YOIs (children’s prisons) which are operating at maximum capacity. Although the government announced two and a half years ago that it would phase out child’s prisons, at a debate held in Parliament on the 25th June 2019 (two days before Caden Steward’s death) Edward Argar, the Minister of Justice refused to give a timetable for the closure of child prisons. To add fuel to the fire, Edward Argar stated “that youth secure estate “requires real reform” but that the system needs to retain custody as an option.” However, the notion of reformism in face of its successive failures is paradoxically non-reformist reform. No more reform of reform or ‘old wine in new bottles’.

200 years of reform have led us to a time where on the 8th August 2004, Steve Hodgson a so-called ‘care’ officer, ‘fearing’ he was about to be bitten, by Adam Rickwood, a 14 year old child, in plain speaking, gave a sharp blow to Adam’s nose with two fingers under the nostrils, inflicting a nose bleed, which bled for one hour. At the time Steve Hodgson, acted on ‘instinct’, whilst Adam was being lifted by four care officers to be placed in his room. Although the way he was carried and the use of a blow to his nose – a “distraction technique” – were “unlawful, there were no charges of assault brought against the care officers.

As Adam Rickwood expressed in his final words of desperation, left in his suicide note on the 8th August 2004 – “What right have they got to hit a child?” To their shame, the Ministry of Justice, backed by the Youth Justice Board, requested the continued use of painful restraint methods for non-compliance to be formalised as part of STC rules. The Secure Training Centre (Amendment) Rules came into force on the 6th July 2007, without parliamentary debate. These ‘rules’ widen the scope for restraint/force to be used against children all of which is permitted under the guise of ensuring “good order and discipline”. The Court of Appeal ruled that the use of painful restraints was an infringement of children’s fundamental human rights. In addition, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, declared that incarceration should be used as a last resort. Even with all that said, the rights of children in detention are still not enforced and the excessive use of restraint/pain-inducing techniques over de-escalation strategies are vehemently favoured as the first response.

The government is clearly failing to protect children, if this were not bad enough, it is actively facilitating the harm of children and blatantly disregarding children’s rights to be protected from violence. When the state, whose role it is to protect, is the perpetrator of harm, who can we turn to? How many more children must die? How many more lessons will be learnt? The time for lesson-learning has passed. The imprisonment of children must end. Now is the time to mobilise, take action and support the End Child Imprisonment campaign launched on the 22nd November 2018 by organisations including: Article 39, the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, the Howard League for Penal Reform, INQUEST, Just for Kids Law and the National Association for Youth Justice.

Originally posted on:  sharonhartles.weebly.com

 

Contact

Sharon Hartles, MA Postgraduate Crime and Justice student with the Open University

Email: sh28739@ou.ac.uk

Twitter: @shartles1

Images: courtesy of the author

A lens on life inside the IRC

Female asylum seekers talk about their experiences of life inside UK Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs)

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Dr Maria De Angelis is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology, HEA Fellow, and Independent Researcher at Leeds Beckett University. Maria’s research on human trafficking and immigration detention foreground the relationship between criminal justice and social policy responses.

 

This blog is based on a recent article entitled Female Asylum Seekers: A Critical Attitude on UK Immigration Removal Centres’.

Although the UK’s immigration detention estate is one of the largest in Western Europe, what it’s like to be inside an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) remains a mystery to most. Included in this mix are detainees’ relatives, their support workers, local councillors, concerned citizens, and interested academics like myself. Bucking a steady trend of allowing charities and community groups in to befriend and run workshops (see Music in Detention and AVID, the association of visitors to immigration detainees), researcher access is almost wholly precluded (for exceptions see works by Alexandra Hall and Mary Bosworth). Against this preclusionary standpoint, female asylum seekers living in Leeds answered my call to share their experiences with me. Mobile cameras are defiantly fixed on a UK Border Agency site, as women provide this article’s micro-lens on life inside the IRC.

Simply put, this research is a show and tell project – to hear what women have to say about their detention experience and visualise key narratives through photography to maximize their impact.  Publicly available data on immigration detention tends to be quantitative (outlining trends and statistics) and available or not, on Home Office (HO) websites, through government-commissioned reviews , and in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) reports . Contrary to fears that ex-detainees might be nervous of talking detention with me, these women genuinely welcomed the academic interest, demanding to know why it had taken so long. Our semi-structured conversations lasted between two and three hours, with a drink and a bite mid-way to sustain us. The decision to close down the call after the fifteenth participant was based on narrative saturation and not insufficient interest. For this blog, I therefore want to set academic theories of Agamben and Foucault to one side (always a struggle for criminologists) and reflect on the in/exclusionary dynamic which runs through women’s narratives. By this, I mean their accountability (inclusion) under immigration laws and regulations and simultaneous denial of (exclusion from) entitlements and protections under citizenship.

Listening to women’s stories reminds us that these centres are intended to hold for removal persons without a legal entitlement to be in the UK (as indicated in their renaming from immigration detention to immigration removal centres under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act, 2002). The fact they provide facilities like a gym, hair salon, shop, or computer room does not distract from the reality of being confined without a criminal charge.  As Trinity from Nigeria remarks, such facilities make for a ‘glorified’ prison environment but it’s still a prison. Women in search of sanctuary relay confinement in an IRC as punishment, with all its inherent pains and losses – family separation, social exclusion, fractured identities, controls and captivity. Importantly, such comparisons with prison and punishment enable women to raise a critical commentary on the ethicality and legitimacy of their immigration detention. As Kia from Uganda puts it:

There was one lady mixed in with us who was classed a foreign national, who killed her husband and her child and who had a history of fighting the guards. She said the toughest place they brought her was the IRC. (Laughs) How can this be right when it’s not a prison and we are not criminal?

But looking at centre routines and practices under the micro-lens of lived experience also raises the fragility of this imposed in/exclusion, firstly across a heterogeneous detainee population and, secondly, between citizen and non-citizen. Unlike ethnic and religious divisions observed in other studies (Bosworth and Kellezi), many describe the kindness of existing detainees towards them on arrival. Joli – a Christian from Namibia – recalls languishing in her room until a Kenyan detainee and professed Muslim showed her where to eat and how to use the computer room. Kia – an Anglican from Uganda – describes arriving with nothing bar the clothes she is arrested in, to be given a wrap by a Russian Orthodox Christian. Inside the walls of the IRC and across such a diverse social group, this kindness magnifies an administrative indifference for ethical care and social belonging (as felt in the removal of mobile phones with cameras and picture galleries; restrictions on free association; and the severance of emotional and community ties). In spite of these segregating measures, women’s affiliation in faith-related networks outside the IRC subverts feelings of non-belonging in wider society, since all faith groups (Mosque, Church, Synagogue) are tasked with prayerful and charitable obligations towards their members. As Kia from Uganda explains:

My local church was like a small community praying and campaigning for people like me. When I had a problem inside they rang round to get legal advice, and when I was to be released they arranged for me stay in the vicarage.

This said, Stonewall has flagged up an absence of faith-inclusive support inside and outside detention for LGBT persons – a shortcoming in need of greater research inquiry.​

In summary, the value of a micro lens on the IRC is the critical commentary on aspects of legitimacy, social exclusion, and ethical care raised through this medium. This, in turn, queries the necessity, efficacy, and defensibility of placing people seeking asylum inside these institutions. Until the Home Office and custodial companies relax their entry restrictions on researchers, it is left to remarkable women like these to make their own plight known and raise a critical challenge of continued asylum governance along present lines.

Contact

Maria De Angelis, Leeds Beckett University

Email:  m.de-angelis@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Images: courtesy of the author (https://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/staff/dr-maria-de-angelis/) and Jeremy Abrahams (https://www.jeremyabrahams.co.uk). This is part of an ongoing visualisation of asylum lives in and beyond immigration detention.

Deviance in football: An organised fraud and regulatory bias?

A criminological analysis of UEFA’s regulatory response to an alleged contravention of Financial Fair Play by Manchester City FC

PDuncanPete Duncan is a current MRes Criminology student at The University of Manchester. He has widespread criminological interests, including political economy, drug policy, drug markets, deviance in sport, residential burglary and research methods.

 

In 2011, UEFA – the governing body of European football – introduced Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations to reduce unsustainable investment in football clubs by billionaire owners. Clubs were only allowed to spend money that was earned through footballing endeavours. It is alleged that Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) contravened FFP regulations at least twice. This post will use criminological theory to analyse these alleged acts of deviance and UEFA’s regulatory response.

In a recent article, investigatory newspaper Der Spiegel published documents from Football Leaks to provide insight into the methods MCFC are purported to have used to bypass FFP regulations. It is alleged that MCFC’s owners – Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited (ADUG) – injected funds into MCFC via hidden payments processed through the accounts of their sponsors, thereby making extra funds available for expenditure whilst appearing to abide by FFP regulations. Figure 1 depicts how this agreement differs from the usual club-sponsor relationship.

Diagram_Duncan

Figure 1: Disparity between usual club-sponsor relations and those allegedly manipulated by ADUG

The Action Fraud website defines fraud as ‘when trickery is used to gain a dishonest advantage, which is often financial’. If the allegations are true, it seems clear ADUG utilised trickery to increase the funds available for expenditure by their subsidiary MCFC. As expenditure is positively associated with footballing success (see page 112 of this UEFA benchmarking report), and success brings further revenue which can be legitimately reinvested, the ability to increase expenditure would clearly have given MCFC a dishonest financial advantage.

The well-known routine activities theory stipulates that offending requires the temporal and spatial convergence of a motivated offender and a suitable target. When co-offenders are required for an offence, they similarly must meet offenders in time and space.

Co-offenders must be trustworthy and possess the required skillset or status to fill the gap in a motivated offender’s ability to offend on their own. In this case, the implicated sponsors represented suitable co-offenders. For example, the Chairman of Etihad – MCFC’s main shirt and stadium sponsor – is also a member of the MCFC Board, and therefore presumably trustworthy, and all sponsors made legitimate payments to MCFC within which ADUG could hide their own funds.

The ease with which motivated offenders can locate suitable co-offenders in a network is a measure of that network’s organisation. The convergence of motivated offender (MCFC) and suitable co-offenders (some sponsors) was facilitated by pre-existing personal and working relationships (a number of other sponsors implicated are also Abu Dhabi-based) suggesting this deviant network was tightly organised. Furthermore, the use of sponsors as ‘corporate vehicles’ is additional evidence of organised deviance.

A prerequisite of any deviant act is the opportunity to deviate, and it has been suggested that opportunities are more likely to be taken when they are encountered in a familiar environment. MCFC’s ability to manipulate pre-existing relationships to agree sponsorship contracts with familiar and willing entities provided a suitable opportunity to circumvent FFP regulations.

Other explanations for the alleged deviance relate to the notions of ‘amoral calculators’ and ‘techniques of neutralisation’. Both suggest that deviant behaviour may be explained by moral variation. The former suggests the deviant cares not for the immoral nature of their behaviour, whereas the latter (specifically the ‘appeal to higher loyalties’) suggests deviant decisions may be justified as loyalty to the goals or norms of a subgroup (MCFC in this case) outweighs the necessity of conformity. When a colleague questioned whether MCFC’s deviance was acceptable conduct, it is alleged an executive simply responded ‘of course, we can do what we want’. An ‘appeal to higher loyalties’?

UEFA investigated, and on 16 May 2014 a settlement agreement with MCFC was published. MCFC were fined €60m, although €40m of this would be waived if they met various terms. MCFC were also restricted to entering a squad four players smaller than usual for the following season’s UEFA Champions League. This sanction would also apply to the subsequent season should MCFC fail to comply with certain terms.

Whilst this may seem to be a relatively open-and-shut case, it is alleged that MCFC received lenient treatment from UEFA. Leniency can be problematic as the effect of punishment is insufficient to deter future deviance. It seems hard to believe that a €20m fine (€60m minus the suspended €40m) and reduction in permitted Champions League squad size constituted a substantial enough punishment to come close to outweighing the potential benefits brought by substantial overinvestment in playing staff.

UEFA had more severe punishments available to them, principally excluding MCFC from participation in future UEFA competitions (see page 9 of the FFP regulations), but they elected not to apply this sanction. In this regard, UEFA may be seen to have followed due regulatory process as scholars have suggested regulation may be most effective when heavy sanctions are available but not used. Another justification for leniency is that severe sanctions can have significant negative consequences for many innocent individuals within an organisation, with revocation of a licence having been likened to a ‘corporate death penalty’ capable of rendering thousands of jobs obsolete.

Unfortunately for UEFA, these defences fall apart under closer scrutiny: their responses to FFP violations by economically lesser European teams of the time were more severe. UEFA excluded Romania’s FC Astra from European competitions for the following three seasons because of overdue payments totalling approximately €1.5m. For a club with financial difficulties, as UEFA acknowledged, exclusion from European competitions can be more of a corporate death penalty than it would have been for MCFC, as these clubs rely on the revenue that participation in these competitions provides. Four out of the five other cases closed at the time involved exclusion of the offender from UEFA competitions. Clearly UEFA were not averse to applying the heaviest sanction available.

Der Spiegel allege Gianni Infantino, UEFA General Secretary at the time and current FIFA President, acted as an intermediary between UEFA’s investigatory division and MCFC, helping the latter to propose an agreement that would be accepted by UEFA. These were not Infantino’s duties, and the investigatory team is supposed to be independent (see page 3 of the FFP regulations).

This behaviour could be argued to constitute a clear example of a problem termed ‘regulatory capture’: when a regulator ceases serving their controlling purpose and instead serves the interests of those they are supposed to regulate. Infantino apparently did not intervene in cases involving the likes of FC Astra, suggesting that the term ‘regulatory bias’ may be more appropriate.

Issues of insufficient and disproportionate sanctioning and regulatory bias could perhaps be at least partially understood if they had fostered FFP compliance on the part of MCFC; it has been argued that promoting compliance is the main aim of regulatory systems. However, leaked emails from 2015 allege MCFC remained uncompliant despite their settlement agreement with UEFA and continued to circumvent FFP.

UEFA may have fallen into the ‘compliance trap’, whereby attempts to coerce compliance through moral reasoning instead produce defiance as the regulated feel unfairly stigmatised. Regardless of this, the 2015 allegations suggest that UEFA’s earlier regulation attempt was ineffective.

The criminological literature can provide guidance regarding how UEFA could improve their regulatory practice. Opportunities for deviance could be targeted for situational crime prevention (SCP); removing criminogenic opportunities through environmental manipulation. SCP concepts could be used to supplement UEFA’s attempts to coerce FFP compliance through regulation.

In this case, scrutiny of sponsor structures at the point of contract agreement would give UEFA more insight into potential opportunities for deviance. However, this would be a costly undertaking and may also be limited by jurisdictional issues. Consideration of the other possible opportunities that clubs may utilise to circumvent FFP would give UEFA the chance to take a more proactive approach to prevention.

UEFA could also consider utilising a method of deterrence known as ‘naming and shaming’, which has been suggested to deter organisations that fear reputational damage and shame. UEFA’s current practices more closely reflect ‘naming without shaming’: violators are publicly named but their behaviour is not condemned. For a club with an allegedly substantial interest in promoting a positive image, the threat of being named and shamed could have a significant deterrent effect.

If MCFC are judged to have circumvented FFP a second time, UEFA have a chance to learn from their mistakes and enact effective regulation. Recent reports suggest their response may be more severe this time around.

 

Contact

Peter Duncan, The University of Manchester

Email: peter.duncan-2@manchester.ac.uk

 

Images: courtesy of the author