Page last updated at 17:53 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 18:53 UK

Children's rights 'not being met'

A child playing
Observers suggest that progress has been made but more is needed

Britain is failing to meet standards on improving children's rights, a report from the UN has said.

Its Committee on the Rights of the Child wants ministers to abolish the use of Asbos and only jail young offenders as a last resort.

The report contains more than 120 recommendations, 50 more than the last report six years ago.

The government said it "broadly welcomed" the report and would carefully consider its recommendations.

The report also expressed concern about the high level of child poverty in the UK.

The committee said anti-social behaviour orders and other measures, such as mosquito devices, "may violate the rights of children to freedom of movement and peaceful assembly".

'Climate of intolerance'

It also attacked children's appearances on reality television shows and it recommended such programmes were regulated to ensure their privacy was not violated.

The committee said it was "concerned at the general climate of intolerance and negative public attitudes towards children, especially adolescents, which appears to exist in the UK, including in the media, and may be often the underlying cause of further infringements of their rights".

The sheer number of recommendations made in the UN Committee's report shows the scale and urgency of the problem
David Bull
Unicef UK

But it also said ministers had made a great deal of progress in implementing the UN Convention on Rights of the Child since 2002.

The report also concluded the age of criminal responsibility should be raised from 10 in England and Wales and eight in Scotland.

It also criticised any overuse of restraint on the young in custody, saying it should only be used to protect individuals.

Unicef UK called for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to be incorporated into law.

David Bull, the charity's executive director, said the government had shown a growing commitment to children's rights but that "more needs to be done".


"Despite good intentions, children's rights are still not at the heart of policy-making in the UK.

"The sheer number of recommendations made in the UN Committee's report shows the scale and urgency of the problem."

It is not the first time the British government has got in the neck over its treatment of the young
Mark Easton
BBC home editor

Shami Chakrabarti, director of campaign group Liberty, said the report gave "lie to the notion that Britain is a place where 'every child matters'".

"The restraint techniques used in youth custody are nothing short of state-sponsored child abuse," she said.

"We weep hot tears for kids suffering all over the world but if they have the audacity to seek asylum here they can look forward to degradation and detention."

Children's Minister Beverley Hughes said she broadly welcomed the report's concluding observations, adding that the committee's recommendations would be given "the careful consideration they deserve".

"I look forward to publishing progress on our Children's Plan later in the year. This will set out ambitions and strategies for tackling many of the issues the UN Committee has highlighted," she said.

Restraints on children 'must end'
07 Mar 08 |  UK Politics
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09 Jun 08 |  Scotland
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04 Aug 06 |  Northern Ireland

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