Joint Committee On Human Rights Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 180 - 181)

MONDAY 13 MAY 2002


  180. Thank you. Finally, you were able to hear the evidence from Mr Leadbetter and Mr Waterman talking specifically about children in relation to the social services departments, local government and education. Is there any comment you would like to make about any of that evidence?
  (Mr Newell) I think not specifically. At the moment so many of the developments for children are provoked by scandals and I think that is a terrible indictment of the way this society works, that we wait until something quite awful happens or until 40 police forces are investigating abuse around the country and then we begin to do something about it. The purpose of the commissioner would be to be much more proactive, to look at these issues to see how one could really avoid them. In the same way the two Chief Inspectors of Prisons have been drawing attention to the awful shortcomings of our young offender institutions in report after report. Some of those shortcomings are being put right, at least in individual institutions, but one gets the awful feeling that the problem is moving around, there are still far too many tragic suicides of young offenders and so on. Again, I think it needs this more powerful figure with a high profile to ensure that Government feels accountable, including to those not at the moment very popular young who it is really supposed to be acting as parents to.

  181. Thank you very much for coming here today. I would like to reiterate to you the comments I have made to the previous witnesses, that anything else which strikes you that arises from your evidence that you would like to submit to us as written evidence we would be very pleased to receive. Thank you.
  (Mr Newell) Thank you very much. Incidentally, if the Committee is interested I do have enough copies of the report I wrote for the Gulbenkian Foundation.

  Chairman: That would be helpful, thank you.

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