First published in Hear All Sides

I FOUND the article about “children” at the Hassockfield Secure Training Centre (STC) near Consett, County Durham, being subjected, in the words of the Howard League for Penal Reform, to “violence, danger, fear and, possibly, abuse” (Echo, Oct 26) to be utterly political in content.

The “possibly abuse" accusation is particularly insidious (and utterly unfounded or it would not have been worded as such), hinting at sinister practices from staff supervising not simply children but remand detainees or convicted criminals.

League director Frances Crook believes it is time to end STCs.

Perhaps she has another model that will rehabilitate them back into society? Simply closing secure sites and freeing criminals is not enough.

The article is biased, offering no comment about the violence encountered by STC staff from unruly criminals who must frequently flout the rules – otherwise there would be no reason to employ restraint techniques.

The Howard League would achieve better results if it redirected its energies to investigating the circumstances by which these individuals end up in STCs in the first place.

Determining the root causes and seeking some solution to those causes would be more beneficial than simply criticising the professionals tasked with maintaining the security and education of each individual in secure care.

Name supplied, Co Durham.

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