A group of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children are lined up in front of railings. Behind them the flags of all member states of the United Nations are displayed on the lawn outside the United Nations office.

FFT warns UN that children’s rights have worsened in England

In a new report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 97 children’s charities from across England, including Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT), warn that critical children’s rights issues must be urgently addressed by the UK Government.

Led by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), the report reveals that, due to Government failures, children’s rights have worsened in many areas since the UN’s last examination in 2016.

The ongoing cost-of-living crisis is now putting children and their families under great financial strain, and child poverty has increased. Despite this, there is still no UK Government strategy or targets to address child poverty.

The report highlights that significant discrimination and structural inequalities persist for Black, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children across several areas.

The charities are calling on the UK Government to develop a robust children’s rights action plan to ensure rights are respected in all areas of children’s lives, and that they get the bright future they deserve.

According to the report, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children:

  • Disproportionately made up 15% of the secure training centre (STC) population and 8% of children in young offender institutions (YOIs).
  • Are more likely to suffer poor mental and physical health, and face discrimination in school.
  • Experience disproportionate use of restraint and isolation
  • Are excluded from school two to three times more than the national rate.

Abbie Kirkby, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for Friends, Families and Travellers:

Our evidence in this report highlights the structural inequalities and discrimination young Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people face across education, healthcare, and the youth justice system.

These issues have been further compounded by persistent underfunding, and the Government has a responsibility to take action and redress harm done to children experiencing some of the worst forms of marginalisation, in England.”

Louise King, Director of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, part of Just for Kids Law:

“Our report plainly shows that children in the UK are being failed across many aspects of their lives. The Government must take urgent action to place children at the heart of its decision-making by publishing a children’s rights action plan, with a clear road map for how it will meaningfully improve the daily experiences of our most vulnerable children. It must also embed children’s rights into domestic law to ensure we don’t fall further behind progress being made in Scotland and Wales.”


Notes to editors

  1. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted by the UN on 20 November 1989 and was ratified by the UK Government in 1991. It applies to all children aged 17 and under and sets out the minimum standards for their treatment. See here: https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx
  2. Every state that has ratified the CRC is required to report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child on how it is fulfilling its obligations under the Convention every 4-6 years.
  3. CRAE’s report is the Civil Society Alternative Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The final examination of the UK Government will take place in May 2023 with the final report by the UN Committee containing recommendations for the UK Government published in June 2023. For more information see: https://crae.org.uk/our-work/monitoring-compliance-childrens-rights/our-role-reporting
  4. The report is based on written and oral evidence from CRAE’s 100 members and additional analysis.

About the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) and Just for Kids Law

CRAE seeks the full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in England. Our vision is of a society where the human rights of all children are recognised and realised. CRAE merged into the charity Just for Kids Law in 2015.

Just for Kids Law is a UK charity that works with and for children and young people to hold those with power to account and fight for wider reform by providing legal representation and advice, direct advocacy and support, and campaigning to ensure children and young people in the UK have their legal rights and entitlements respected and promoted and their voices heard and valued.

About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)

Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) is a leading national charity that works to end racism and discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life. FFT support individuals and families with the issues that matter most to them, at the same time as working to transform systems and institutions to address the root causes of inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people. You can find out more by going to gypsy-traveller.org, or @GypsyTravellers.

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