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Institute of Criminology


History shows abuse of children in custody will remain an ‘inherent risk’ – report

A new report on the history of safeguarding children detained for criminal offences in the UK has concluded that it is impossible to remove the potential for abuse in secure institutions, and that the use of custody for children should be limited as far as possible. A team of criminologists and historians from the universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh were asked by HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) to help build a “collective memory” of safeguarding policies and practices that emerged in the youth wing of the UK’s “secure estate” between 1960 and 2016. The research was commissioned to help prepare HMPPS to give evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. It covers Secure Children’s Homes and Training Centres, Young Offender Institutions, and their predecessors such as Detention Centres and borstals.


A copy of the full report and policy brief can be downloaded from here.


A policy paper summarising the findings is available here: