Young offenders need independent complaints system: ombudsman
Staff in youth detention centres and other institutions sometimes bribe young inmates into not making complaints by offering them fizzy drinks and pre-paid phone credits, according to a new report by children’s ombudsman Marc Dullaert.
The problem was brought to the ombudsman attention by a girl in a youth institution who was given money and gift certificates in an effort to stop her making a complaint about one social worker.
Complaints are usually about simple issues such as not being allowed contact with their lawyer or cancelled leave, the report said. ‘I don’t want to be bought off. I want my complaint to be taken seriously,’ one boy says in the report.
Among his list of recommendations, Dullaert says young offenders should have access to an independent person to deal with their complaints and that the complaints system should be better explained to them.
The report states, for example, the case of one group youngsters being given crisps and cola because they were forced to stay in their rooms because their team leader had to attend a funeral. Others who were similarly affected were told they were being petty when they protested about being locked up all day.