The child representative believes the Justice Minister has misunderstood the law

Tuesday 3 July 2018

– Custody is a punishment we provide for the most serious crimes. I can not see for myself that in Norway we are going to start distributing custody to children in the early teens, “says childcare representative.

Last week, Dagbladet wrote that ten children under 15 years account for 187 crimes in the capital, according to figures from the Oslo police.

Among the offenses are rape by a child under 14 years of age, firefighting, robbery, threats with knife, helmet, car theft and violence against teacher.

Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara called the numbers “desperate reading”, and was aware that Oslo’s streets are not safe. He wants to use more custody of children to cope with crime.

– Whether it’s a custody or a shipment from the city; These children must be taken out of Oslo. If today’s legislation is preventing it, we should change the law, “said Wara to Dagbladet.

– Very bad signal

Acting Children’s Ombudsman Camilla Kayed strongly warns against the Minister of Justice’s proposal. Kayed reacts specifically to the use of child custody as a tool in this context.

– The Children’s Convention provides clear indications that the imprisonment of children should be the last last resort. I think talking about custody is a very unfortunate signal from Wara, says Kayed to Dagbladet.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H), after Wara’s surprising play, also expressed a negative opinion on the use of child custody.

Confusion about custody

“Today’s legislation also gives the child welfare authority the opportunity to place children in coercion, if this is what Wara believes in” taking children out of Oslo “, Kayed said.

She points out that the Child Welfare Act today provides the opportunity to place children in a treatment or training institution for up to twelve months without consent.

Kayed also believes that custody, which is the strictest sentence of the law, should not be used on children.

“I have to say I do not understand what Wara actually means here. Custody is a punishment we provide for the most serious crimes. I can not see for myself that in Norway we are going to start distributing custody to children in the early teens.

There is only one case where the Norwegian state has given custody to a person under the age of 18, according to the Children’s Ombudsman. It was also a person over criminal low age, not below, as Wara said.

“We are talking about children who have committed very serious offenses. Why is custody then wrong?

“What we know about being sent to an institution on duty is that it rarely helps. It’s a daunting and very short-term measure that does not address the actual problem. It seems that Tor Mikkel Wara does not understand what measures are working. There are long-term measures – family prevention, preventive work at the police – which can reduce crime among children, says Kayed.

Prevention, not custody

The acting child ombudsman shows that children who commit offenses have often been exposed to domestic violence. Therefore, this is where she will begin to solve the problem.

– These are families that need help from the children are small, helping to cope with everyday life in a good way. This way we prevent children from committing crime later in life. It’s incredibly important that the police get stable funds to carry out preventive work against the families, “she says.

City council leader Raymond Johansen (AP) told Dagbladet Thursday that he did not experience Oslo as unsafe, as Wara claimed the streets of the capital. Kayed is also aware that Oslo is a safe city.

“97 per cent of children in Oslo are law-abiding. It is very unfortunate to talk about the custody of the children, and it is equally unfortunate to say that Oslo’s streets are unsafe, says Kayed.

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