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Outcomes for children are a postcode lottery in London

Children’s outcomes should not depend on where they live, but there are huge disparities in the treatment of children in different London boroughs. Today the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) publishes State of Children’s Rights in London, a report examining the extent to which children in London enjoy their human rights. It reveals staggering differences in outcomes for children according to which borough they live in.

Criminal Justice

  • Freedom of Information requests submitted by CRAE revealed that:
    • On average, 91 children are stopped and searchedeach week in Southwark, compared with 19 per week in Hillingdon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton and Sutton.
    • The use of tasers on children in London increased nearly six-fold between 2008 and 2012. In total, police in London tasered children 131 times in this period. Police in Croydon, Southwark, Lambeth and Lewisham between them tasered children 51 times – 40% of the total.
  • Children in Lambeth are 30 times more likely to find themselves in prison than those in Richmond upon Thames.

Children in Care

  • In Barking and Dagenham 42% of looked after children are not in employment, education or training when they reach 19, whilst in Tower Hamlets and Sutton the equivalent figure is 16%.
  • Looked after children should have the opportunity to influence the way in which children’s services are run via Children in Care Councils. Freedom of Information requests found that in 2012 there were no meetings at all between the Children in Care Council and the Director of Children’s Services in five boroughs (Barnet, Hackney, Havering, Kensington and Chelsea and Wandsworth), compared with 12 such meetings in Harrow and seven in Haringey.

Living Standards

  • Despite this being illegal, 521 homeless children in London were living in B&Bs for longer than six weeks in the third quarter of 2013, accounting for 71% of the total in England. More than half of those were the responsibility of just three local authorities – Ealing, Hounslow and Tower Hamlets.


  • In Kensington and Chelsea, the attainment gapat GCSEbetween children eligible for free school meals and others is extraordinarily low (4.2%). In Kingston upon Thames and Sutton it is over 35%.
  • In Havering just over 20% of children with special educational needs gain 5+ good GCSEs, while more than 50% of children in Westminster do so.

Paola Uccellari, Director of CRAE said:

“Children living in the same city are experiencing vastly different treatment, depending on where they happen to grow up. Children do far better in some boroughs than others, and this is not always linked to obvious explanations such as low child poverty or crime rates. This suggests that local authorities can have a big impact on many of the problems facing children in London. Poorly performing local authorities must identify and learn from neighbouring boroughs that are serving children better.

Children’s rights are the basic things children need to thrive, such as the right to an adequate standard of living, to an education, to be cared for and to play. Children’s rights should act as a safety net – meaning children receive minimum standards of treatment, no matter where they live. Our report shows that too many children in London are falling through the human rights safety net. By putting children’s rights and interests at the heart of their work, local authorities can ensure better outcomes for children across the board.”

In putting together this report, CRAE spoke with a number of children and young people to find out their experiences and views.

“When children are young they have dreams… You have your dream – what you want to become. You know, when I grow up, maybe I want to be a doctor, I want to be an engineer. Why don’t you just support them to be whatever they want to be, instead of just leaving them half way?” 23 year old woman who entered foster care when she was 14.

“[Children’s rights are] what all children are entitled to, no matter how they are as a person, whether they are disabled or not, whether they are ten or two. It’s just something that every child gets.” disabled young person, aged 18.

“You’re more concerned about how you’re going to make it to next pay day than actually buckling down and focusing on more important things…like long term more important things like your education, your wellbeing.” 19 year old who went into care at 14 and is now living independently.

“People should take the time to listen and understand individual situations rather than just grouping people together. And making sure that people that work with children, whether they are able bodied or disabled, that they understand that some people may need more help on certain things than others.” 16 year-old disabled girl.

Read about our report launch event.


Notes to editors

  1. The State of Children’s Rights in London report is the result of a year-long project, funded by Trust for London, examining the extent to which public bodies in London are ensuring that children enjoy their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It compares practices and outcomes of all 32 London boroughs and the City of London, and is based on official statistics, information gained through freedom of information requests and focus groups with children and young people.
  2. A table on page 8 of the report compares the number of times each borough was ranked in the top eight boroughs, the bottom eight boroughs, or the middle 16 boroughs. Overall, the top ten performing boroughs include Hackney and Islington, which have very high child poverty rates. Tower Hamlets has the highest proportion of children living in poverty (46%), but seven boroughs perform worse than Tower Hamlets.
  3. CRAE protects the human rights of children by lobbying government and others who hold power, by bringing or supporting test cases and by using regional and international human rights mechanisms.


Thursday, March 06, 2014 ← Return to listing