There have been significant changes in law, policy and practice that have arisen as a direct result of CRAE’s work. Some of these are outlined below.
Systems and structures which protect children’s rights
In order to ensure that all aspects of law, policy and practice respect and promote children’s rights, the UK Government needs to put in place the systems and structures which mainstream, or embed, children’s rights. CRAE has achieved several highly significant developments in this regard:
- In 2010, the Government made a commitment in Parliament to give ‘due consideration’ to the CRC when making new law and policy.
- In 2012, the Cabinet Office Guide to Making Legislation was amended to draw attention to this commitment.
- In 2013, the Government analysed the compatibility of its Children and Families Bill with children’s rights.
- In its final report, published in December 2012, the Commission on a Bill of Rights, which was established to consider whether the Human Rights Act should be replaced with a Bill of Rights containing additional rights, cited CRAE’s submission and stated: ‘The most frequently supported candidate put forward by those advocating additional rights was for a UK Bill of Rights to explicitly incorporate the rights in other international instruments – such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – which the UK has signed but not incorporated into our domestic law’.
- In 2013, the Government’s Children and Families Bill, which would strengthen the Children’s Commissioner by giving it additional powers, greater independence from Government, and a rights-based mandate, was introduced into Parliament.
Challenged the Government in relation to the restraint of children in custody
- After three years of secrecy and resistance, in 2010 CRAE forced the Youth Justice Board to publish the full manual governing the use of force in privately-run child prisons and persuaded the Government to amend unlawful aspects of the manual.
- In 2012, CRAE brought a judicial review, which led, for the first time, to judicial condemnation of the widespread unlawful restraint of children in privately-run prisons.
- In 2012 and 2013, CRAE supported children and young people with experience of custody to carry out research into violence in custody, and to campaign on this issue. The Youth Justice Board is actively considering the two issues raised by CRAE’s activists: the installation of cameras with sound recording in custodial settings and staff recruitment procedures.
Promoted children’s rights in schools and in relation to education
- In 2011, CRAE lobbied for children (and not just their parents) to have the right to appeal against their exclusion from school. New official guidance in relation to exclusions makes clear that children should have the opportunity to make representations and be provided with information during the exclusions process.
- In 2012, CRAE persuaded the Government to ensure that guidance for schools makes clear that children should be informed of their right to object to the collection of their biometric data (fingerprinting and eye recognition data).
- In 2013, CRAE ensured that proposals for reform of the system to support for children with special educational needs were improved to give children a better opportunity to be involved in decisions about their care and support.
Influenced the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child in respect of the UK
CRAE was instrumental in shaping the conclusions of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child last time it examined the UK’s children’s rights record. CRAE:
- Submitted a comprehensive report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the state of children's rights in England, endorsed by 100+ NGOs and containing 152 recommendations.
- Supported children to carry out a human rights investigation involving over 4,000 children and to submit a report to the UN.
- Accompanied a delegation of 12 children to present evidence from children in England to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, whose submissions substantially influenced the Committee’s concluding observations.
- The Vice Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said: ‘I think that the UK children’s action should be seen as a model in many European countries and others’.