Youth@CLC Launch Children and Young People’s Survey

14 March 2022

Image of the 'Rights Here, Right Now' logo

Youth@CLC, the youth advisory panel at the Children’s Law Centre, has launched an important survey to collect opinions and first-hand experiences of children and young people as part of the UK reporting process to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The survey will be used to tell the UN Committee what matters to under-18s here, how their rights can be better protected, and their lives improved.

Image states: Tell us your thoughts. Click here to complete survey.

The survey can be found here and is open between 14th March and 14th April 2022. The results of the survey will inform a children and young people’s report to the UN Committee as part of the 2022-2023 reporting process. It will influence the outcome of the UN Committee’s examination of the UK government in 2023.

Children and young people can click here to find out more about children’s rights, the UNCRC and the survey.

CLC Youth Participation Worker, Sinead McSorley said: “This is a very important way for children and young people in this jurisdiction to feed into the UNCRC reporting process. Their experiences and opinions are key to understanding if the UK government is fulfilling the obligations it signed up for when it ratified the UNCRC in 1991. We know children’s rights have a massive impact on the lives of children and young people, from education and healthcare to leisure and youth justice. However, we can’t fully understand how well these rights are being protected, or where the gaps are, unless we get the views of as many under-18s as possible.”

Image of girl in wheel chair, with text reading: "Rights Here, Right Now. Children and Young People's Survey. For the young people's report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Open between 14th March - 14th April."

“The last UNCRC report was sent to the Committee in 2015, but so much has happened since then, including the UK’s decision to exit the European Union and the outbreak of COVID-19. It’s our experience, and the experience of a wide number of children’s organisations, that the gap in children’s rights here has grown into a chasm. It’s vital that we gather the views of children and young people to better inform our understanding.”

Wren, a member of Youth@CLC, said: “As part of the children and young people’s report, we will be carrying out a survey and holding workshops with some of the most vulnerable children and young people here to better understand where the government might be failing in its obligations. It’s really important that we gather as many views as possible to give children and young people a real voice. The reporting process doesn’t come around every year, so please make sure you don’t miss this opportunity to have your say.”

We have developed some materials for teachers and youth workers to prepare and assist children and young people to complete the survey:

The ‘Rights Here, Right Now’ survey is being conducted by Youth@CLC, with assistance from the Children’s Law Centre, Dr Deena Haydon and Save the Children NI

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Chief Constable criticised for spit hoods roll-out in defiance of policing board

04 March 2021

The Children’s Law Centre, Amnesty International, CAJ and Include Youth wrote to Doug Garrett, chair of the Policing Board, ahead of their meeting on Thursday 4 March, to ask the Board what steps they are taking to ensure their clear recommendation that all spit hoods by withdrawn by the end of 2020 is followed.

In November 2020, the Northern Ireland Policing Board recommended their immediate phasing out in its report, Review of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Response to Covid 19.

Instead, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne has started distributing spit hoods to 4,000 additional police officers.

New figures show that, to date, the PSNI has used spit hoods 95 times. They were used on children (aged 10 to 17) eight times.

In 81% of cases (68 out of 84 incidents) of their use by the PSNI in 2020, spit hoods were used on people with disabilities.

The figures have come to light in a document published as part of a PSNI equality impact assessment launched this week, almost a year after the introduction of the devices.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, said:

“The decision to roll out spit hoods, rather than withdraw them from use as advised by the Policing Board, is shocking.

“It is disturbing that in more than eight out of ten incidents, the PSNI has used spit hoods on people with disabilities and, on eight occasions, on children.

“The Chief Constable rushed to deploy spit hoods without evidence that they are effective in preventing the transmission of Covid-19. Now he is doubling down on that flawed decision, in outright defiance of the Policing Board.

“Placing a hood over someone’s head is a significant use of force and one that raises key concerns over cruel and degrading treatment, as well as serious potential health risks.

“These devices must be withdrawn from use, as called for by the Policing Board.”

Paddy Kelly, Director of the Children’s Law Centre, said:

“The Children’s Law Centre are extremely concerned that eight spit and bite guards were applied to children during the last year. In the cases of one 16 year-old and one 15 year-old, two spit and bite guards were applied during the same incident. This use of force must have been a frightening experience for these children.

“Their use on children is even more concerning given that children who come in contact with police are more likely to have a disability, mental ill-health or a learning disability. A police officer using a spit hood on a child cannot know if a child has a learning disability or suffers from asthma.

“In the light of medical evidence that the use of spit and bite hoods may increase the risk of Covid-19 infection to both police and members of the public, there can be absolutely no justification for their use on children. Spit and bite guards should be withdrawn in compliance with the Policing Board’s report of November 2020.

“We and other civil society organisations have now written to the Policing Board to ask them what steps they are taking to ensure their clear recommendation that all spit hoods by withdrawn by the end of 2020 is followed.”