Below we summarise significant changes in law, policy and practice in 2010/11 that have arisen as a direct result of CRAE's lobbying.
Other sections of our website give you more information about what we are doing to protect children's rights in England.
- April 2011 - new regulations give greater protection from unlawful restraint to children in children's homes. CRAE lobbied for stronger protection following very serious allegations brought to our legal advice service.
- January 2011 - Schools Minister Nick Gibb decides to commence a duty on schools to record and notify parents of every significant use of force on children (this decision was then reversed in September that year).
- December 2010 - Coalition Government promises to transform the Office of Children's Commissioner into an independent human rights body; and commits to giving 'due consideration' to the Convention on the Rights of the Child when making new laws and policies.
- October 2010 - NHS resource pack on age equality officially recognises age discrimination against children and young people, and urges action to end it.
- October 2010 - for the first time ever, prison restraint and self defence manuals published on Government website (following CRAE's successful FOI battle with Youth Justice Board - see below). The manuals relate to children but the National Offender Management Service / Ministry of Justice tried to block their publication because restraint methods in all types of custody have hitherto been kept secret.
- September 2010 - During the Pariamentary passage of the Academies Act, the Government agrees that guidance and the Department for Education website would include advice for schools on consultating school students before applying for academy status.
- July 2010 - coalition Government establishes an independent review of the Children's Commissioner. CRAE led the 13-year campaign for a Children's Rights Commissioner and, working with other children's charities, achieved several very significant changes to the Children Act 2004 which set up a Children's Commissioner in 2005. However, we took every opportunity to expose the deficiencies in the legislation (lack of a rights framework, independence compromised and insufficient powers).
- July 2010 - Youth Justice Board agrees after three years of secrecy and resistance to release the full instructors' manual governing the use of force in privately-run child prisons. CRAE first requested the document under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in May 2007.
- May 2010 - coalition Government committed to end the detention of children for immigration purposes. Alongside many other campaign groups, CRAE had been pressing for the end of detention for
many years. In 2002, we alerted the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to the plight of children in immigration detention: the UN Committee subsequently told the UK Government in October 2002 that '[the] detention of these children is incompatible with the principles and provisions of the Convention'.
- April 2010 – first UK General Election manifesto pledge to incorporate the Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law (Liberal Democrats).
- April 2010 – two of three main political parties General Election manifestos support lowering the voting age to 16.
- April 2010 - many of CRAE's comments were incorporated into Government guidance on the use of force in schools, including: emphasis on the use of force being proportionate and a last resort; the importance of obtaining and recording the child's perspective following the use of force; making the right to complain about the use of force clear to students as well as parents; and teachers not automaticaly contacting the police following assaults by children.
- April 2010 – local authorities and their partners (through their Children's Trust Boards) must have regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child when preparing, reviewing or revising their plan for local children's services.
- March 2010 – Government Minister writes to Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), urging him to specifically review the impact of equality legislation on children. The Minister also asks the EHRC Chair to include children's views and experiences in the Commission's guidance and Code of Practice on the Equality Act 2010 and to consider what information to disseminate to children about the Act.
- March 2010 – Ministry of Justice reports that its Green Paper consultation on a Bill of Rights and responsibilities elicited ‘most support for including rights relating to children and children’s wellbeing’.
- March 2010 – revised Government inter-agency guidance on safeguarding – Working Together to Safeguard Children – includes a comprehensive new section on keeping the child in focus. CRAE's advice accepted in many other parts of the guidance, including a revision of the definition of emotional abuse: ‘It may [also] include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate’ and requirement for social workers to record children's wishes and feelings.
- March 2010 – UK Government for the first time gives a written response to report of three children's rights campaigns run by children and young people following the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's concluding observations on the UK.
- February 2010 – National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services agrees to include children's rights in its programme for Directors of Children's Services.
- February 2010 – young children's rights activists present their work and impact to Parliamentarians and others in a packed meeting in the House of Commons. The outgoing Children's Commissioner for England, Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, posts this on his blog the following day:
On Tuesday, I gave the closing speech at a parliamentary reception to celebrate the achievements of the Get ready for change! project run by children and young people from the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE). In a packed room at the Houses of Parliament, the young people confidently spoke to the delegates, including Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan, about the brilliant work they have done. During the project, which began in 2007, the children and young people examined how well their human rights are being protected and where this was lacking, they campaigned for change! This is a great example of the fantastic contribution that children and young people make to our society.
I have worked closely with CRAE throughout my five years as Children's Commissioner for England and I'm seriously impressed with their achievements. As well as speaking at events together, we met up in Geneva in 2008 when the UK Children’s Commissioners and CRAE presented separate children's rights reports to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. The efforts of these children and young people have contributed towards the greater recognition of children's rights in Government policy and throughout society.