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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Inquiry call after custody death
Adam Rickwood
Adam was boisterous rather than bad, his family say
The suicide of a teenager at a secure training centre has sparked calls for a public inquiry into the treatment of children in custody.

The Youth Custody Board confirmed 14-year-old Adam Rickwood as the youngest person to die in custody in the UK.

Staff at the privately-run Hassockfield Centre near Consett, County Durham, discovered the boy's body on Monday.

His aunt told the BBC he was too young to be locked up more than 100 miles away from his Lancashire family.

Liz Rickwood described Adam as a "boisterous" boy, but not bad, and it was his first time in custody.

She said he had threatened to kill himself a few days beforehand, and was finding it difficult being so far from his family and home, in Burnley.

Adam Rickwood's aunt, Liz
They're children who need help, not locking away from their families
Adam Rickwood's aunt, Liz
"They're babies and they shouldn't be locked up in places like that," she said.

"They're children who need help, not locking up away from their families."

The family has joined calls from campaign group Inquest, which monitors custody deaths, for a public inquiry.

Adam was on remand facing a wounding charge and had been at the centre for a month.

He was one of 43 young people, aged between 14 and 17, living at the centre on remand or carrying out community service orders.

The Hassockfield site is one of three secure training centres in the country, which house vulnerable young people who are sentenced to custody.

'Dangerous consequences'

Deborah Coles, co-director of Inquest, said Adam was the second child to have died in a secure training centre this year.

On 19 April, 15-year-old Gareth Myatt died at Rainsbrook secure training centre.

She added: "The death of a 14-year-old child while in the care and custody of the state is deeply shocking and highlights the dangerous consequences of locking up children.

"The home secretary can no longer resist the call for a public inquiry into the treatment of children by the criminal justice system."

Ellie Roy, chief executive of the Youth Justice Board, said: "In accordance with our serious incidents procedure an investigation will be launched immediately by the board in co-operation with the Prison and Probation Ombudsman and the Commission for Social Care Inspection."

The private centre is run by Premier Training Services Ltd, part of Premier Custodial Group, based in Berkshire, on behalf of the Youth Justice Board.

Spokesman, Dave Hill, said: "We are investigating the circumstances, as are the police and Youth Justice Board.

"We are all very sad and shocked by what has happened."

Remand teenager is found hanged
09 Aug 04  |  England

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