Carolyne Willow began her career as a child protection social worker in Nottinghamshire in the late 80s, leaving to take up specialist roles promoting and protecting the rights of children in care amid revelations of widespread abuse in children’s homes. As head of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England in London, she was invited to join an independent inquiry into child custody and was disturbed by what children told her. There were many parallels with the past mistreatment of children in care. Her new book, Children Behind Bars, exposes the shocking truth of child abuse and neglect in young offender institutions and secure training centres run by G4S and Serco. Based on wide-ranging research and first-person interviews, the harsh realities of penal child custody are revealed – hunger, denial of fresh air, cramped and dirty cells, strip-searching, segregation, the authorised infliction of severe pain, uncivilised conditions for suicidal children and ever-present violence and intimidation, as well as abuse allegations rarely independently investigated.
Carolyne has lived in Nottingham for 30 years and is in the process of establishing a new charity to safeguard the rights of children in a wide range of institutional settings.
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