Detainees: Children

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 29th March 2017.

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Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

The age of criminal responsibility among Service personnel reflects, where applicable, the definition used by the civilian justice system (CJS). The single Services have appropriate measures in place for dealing with juveniles within the Service justice system (SJS) which mirror the CJS. For example, the requirement for the provision of an appropriate adult for a juvenile is detailed within the Service Police Codes of Practice in a manner identical to the civilian police PACE Codes of Practice. In addition, the military chain of command always provides an assisting officer to any Service person facing disciplinary action, irrespective of age. All criminal records are uploaded on to the police national computer and maintained in accordance with the Home Office rules and procedures set for that system.

The SJS uses the law of England and Wales for criminal offences, via the Armed Forces Act 2006. In doing so, the Service judiciary utilise the sentencing guidelines set within the CJS. The SJS has a range of sentencing options available, which can include a period of detention. Detention is only used when it is deemed necessary, proportionate and a lawful outcome within the sentencing guidelines. Whilst there are additional Service offences within the Armed Forces Act 2006 bespoke to the SJS, none of these carry a life sentence.

When held at the Military Training and Corrective Centre (MCTC), detainees aged 16 years are always accommodated separately from adults. Detainees aged 17 years of age are accommodated in accordance with a detailed risk assessment and their own accommodation preference. There are currently no detainees aged under 18 at the MCTC. In the past five years, only four detainees have been under 18 years of age and none of them have been held in solitary confinement. The MCTC is subject to inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons and at the last inspection in December 2014 was given the highest possible rating for its treatment of under 18s.

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