Riot-month increase in children held on remand

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The number of children held on remand rose by almost a quarter during the month of the riots that swept through English cities, figures show.

A total of 577 children under 18 were held on remand in August, a 23 per cent increase on the 469 held in July, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said. Campaigners warned the figures suggested there was “an overuse of remand for children during the riots”.

Penelope Gibbs, director of the Out of Trouble programme at the Prison Reform Trust, said it was “really disappointing” that the total number of children in custody rose by 129 in August to 2,106.

“Of the increase, 84 per cent is accounted for by children locked up on remand,” she said.

“These are children who pleaded innocent and have not been convicted.

“These figures indicate, as suggested by Unicef recently, that there was an overuse of remand for children during the riots.”

Other figures out yesterday showed the prison population in England and Wales had fallen for the first time in six weeks.

The number of prisoners fell by 122, taking the total to 87,551, 1,370 short of the usable operational capacity. It comes after five weeks of record highs, fuelled by the riots.

A higher proportion of defendants accused of being involved in the rioting are being held on remand and those convicted are being jailed for longer, MoJ figures show.

Those involved in the riots have been jailed for an average of 10.4 months for violent disorder, compared with an average of 5.3 months last year, while for burglary, the average sentence for those involved in the riots was 14.1 months, compared with 8.8 months last year.