Corporal Punishment

House of Lords written question – answered on 19th December 2011.

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Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of their Fifth report to the United Nations Committee against Torture, whether corporal punishment of children (a) in the home and family, (b) in all schools including private schools, (c) as a sentence for crime in the penal system for children and young people, (d) as a disciplinary measure within penal institutions, and (e) in all forms of alternative care including institutional care and foster-care, has been prohibited in legislation in Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, and Turks and Caicos.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

Governors' Offices in the Overseas Territories (OTs) in question have provided the following information about corporal punishment legislation and practices in their territories:

Anguilla:

Corporal punishment may be administered in Anguilla's schools by the school's principal or their designate in a controlled environment. Corporal punishment cannot be used as a part of the court's sentencing or as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions.

Bermuda:

Corporal punishment in schools is allowed under defined conditions. However, in practice, schools are moving towards using positive reinforcement for good behaviour. Corporal punishment may not be carried out on any child in care, whether in a children's home or foster care.

British Virgin Islands:

Corporal punishment can be carried out in schools, by the principal, deputy principal or by one senior teacher appointed in writing. Corporal punishment of children is not allowed in other institutions or forms of care.

Cayman Islands:

Corporal punishment is not prohibited in homes by legislation. In schools and institutional care current legislation allows corporal punishment "as a last resort" where no other punishment is considered suitable or effective by the principal, and may be administered by the principal or any teacher appointed in writing by the principal for that purpose. This is not used in practice and the Ministry of Education is revising the Education Law in which corporal punishment will be banned in schools (including private schools).

Corporal punishment is not used in the penal system as a sentence or as a disciplinary measure.

Falkland Islands:

Corporal punishment in the home is not prohibited by legislation. Corporal punishment in schools, including private schools, is prohibited.

Corporal punishment as a sentence for crime in the penal system for children and young people has not been specifically prohibited. However, the Criminal Justice Ordinance, which makes provision in relation to the powers of courts to deal with offenders, does not make any provision permitting corporal punishment. The Prisons Ordinance, which applies to the detention of persons in a young offender institution, does not prohibit corporal punishment. However, arguably it is indirectly prohibited through restrictions on the use of force included in the Prisons Regulations (where force is permitted only in lawful defence or in trying to prevent escape). Moreover Article 3 (Protection from inhuman treatment), and Article 7 (Protection of rights of prisoners to humane treatment) of the Falkland Islands Constitution expressly prohibits corporal punishment.

There is no legislation in place to regulate the provision of alternative care (including institutional care and foster care), but work is already under way to address this. Administratively, the Falkland Islands Government forbid corporal punishment of children in the forms of care they operate.

Gibraltar:

Corporal punishment in the home and family context is lawful provided that it is moderate in the manner, the instrument and the quantity of it.

Corporal punishment has been expressly prohibited in schools in Gibraltar by means of departmental policy instructions which though not a legal instrument have the same effect.

There is no provision for the imposition of corporal punishment as a sentence for a crime or as a disciplinary measure within penal institutions in Gibraltar.

The Gibraltar Care Agency's policy instructions with regard to residential services for children who are in public care expressly prohibit corporal punishment. The agency's foster care manual also expressly prohibits the use of corporal punishment.

Montserrat:

Corporal punishment can be administered in schools but subject to strict guidelines and where no other punishment is considered suitable or effective. It should only be administered by the principal or a teacher designated by the principal for that purpose. Corporal punishment is not permitted for young offenders and is not administered in prison.

Pitcairn:

Assault on a child is illegal under the Pitcairn Children's Ordinance. In 2009 an amendment was passed which reads at Para 7(2) "The common law rules permitting the use of force for punishment of a child are abolished". This amendment was introduced to remove any reasonable force defence for corporal punishment.

St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha:

In the current 2009 constitution there are provisions that outlaw corporal punishment in public and private schools.

There is no practice of administering corporal punishment in any government institutions and any application for permission to use such punishment would be refused on the grounds that it would be in breach of the provisions of the constitution.

Turks and Caicos Islands:

Existing law allows for corporal punishment in schools, although in practice it is prohibited in both private and public schools and in all institutions dealing with children and adolescents.

The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the Crown Dependencies (Guernsey, Isle of Man and Jersey) and has provided the following answer.

Corporal punishment is banned in categories (b) - (e). The position in the Crown Dependencies in terms of the use of corporal punishment at home is the same as the UK: some sort of reasonable chastisement would be allowed but restrictions placed upon it.

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