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We must learn from this death; MP demands inquiry into 16-year-old Joe's hanging.

Byline: By MARK HOOKHAM Parliamentary Correspondent

THE Home Office was last night under mounting pressure to hold a public inquiry into a North Wales teenager's death at a young offenders' institute.

A parliamentary petition tabled in the Commons by Vale of Clwyd Labour MP Chris Ruane, has won the backing of 20 MPs from the three major parties.

The Early Day Motion demands ministers order a public inquiry into the death of 16-year-old Joseph Scholes, so that "lessons can be learned about the treatment of children throughout the criminal justice system".

Joseph was just nine days into a two-year sentence for street robbery when he was found hanged at Stoke Heath young offenders' institute in Shropshire, in March 2002.

An inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death, but added the risk the teenager faced was not properly recognised and precautions were not taken.

In January his mother, Yvonne, of Prestatyn, suffered bitter defeat when the High Court dismissed her judicial review challenge to the Home Office's decision not to hold a public inquiry,

The judge, Mr Justice Bennett, said she could have no complaint about the fairness of the inquest hearing, and the fact the home secretary's decision was not to her liking was: "in this respect, irrelevant".

Mr Ruane's EDM, which has also won the backing of Conwy MP Betty Williams, said his imprisonment in Stoke Heath "failed to meet the standard of care he required".

It also notes that since 1990, 29 children have died in custody and the number of children sent to prison has doubled in the last decade. It states since Joseph's death, five more children have died "in similar circumstances".

Mr Ruane said: " I personally believe in the Respect agenda and asbos, but if young people do repeatedly break the law, then the best place for them is a local authority-run institution. I do not believe the best place for them is a prison.

"They need help and support to get them back into normal society."

Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe said the Government had commissioned a report in September 2004, into the "operational issues" arising from the Scholes case.

He said ministers would respond to the report, which cost more than pounds 10,500, in "due course".


MP Chris Ruane is putting pressure on the Home Office' Joseph Scholes was found hanged at Stoke Heath young offenders' institute in March 2002' his mother Yvonne, left, has fought for an inquiry into his death
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 24, 2006
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