Report (2nd Day)

Part of Criminal Justice and Courts Bill – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 22nd October 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of The Earl of Listowel The Earl of Listowel Crossbench 6:00 pm, 22nd October 2014

My Lords, it seems wiser not to keep girls in this proposed new pathfinder institution, in part because, as I said in Committee, some of them will be pregnant, giving birth or just have given birth. If they are to be housed there in those conditions, the utmost consideration needs to be given to their needs because, as a society, we are becoming increasingly aware that the attachment that a mother makes to an infant is vital to that child’s later life. Indeed, I am sure that it is often because their mothers were in poverty, alcoholic and unable to form a bond with their child that these young women have followed this course in life. Whatever health provision is offered at the institution to these girls—these mothers—their perinatal needs should be considered.

My noble friend makes an extremely important point about access to psychotherapy for staff members. So often that can be seen as a luxury but, given the relationships that members of staff make with these troubled children, such access is the absolute key in getting the best behaviour from them and avoiding the use of force. If staff can build a good relationship with these troubled young people, force will not be necessary and can be avoided. Staff need expert support in thinking about these children and the relationships they form with them. I therefore thoroughly endorse my noble friend’s point.

Finally, the Children’s Commissioner has produced important reports about the sexual exploitation of girls by gangs. Thought needs to be given to the implication for girls who are placed in establishments where large numbers of gang members may be around. I am thinking of the case of a 14 year-old girl who was raped by a gang member, became pregnant and was very concerned to keep her anonymity. It should be possible to keep girls’ anonymity so that a gang member cannot pass information back to another gang member and say, “The girl you knew is now pregnant”, and so on. That can be a difficult scenario.