The treatment of a teenage boy being held in prolonged solitary confinement at a young offenders’ unit has been described in court as “inhuman and degrading”.
A judicial review has begun at the High Court, with lawyers representing the 16-year-old saying he has spent months locked up for 23 hours and 30 minutes per day.
The Howard League for Penal Reform, which has brought the case against the Government, believes the treatment of the teenager – referred to as AB – is in breach of his human rights.
Justice Secretary Liz Truss is contesting the case, but has “conceded” aspects of his treatment were unlawful.
Papers submitted by the teenager’s legal team say he suffered “emotional and physical abuse” as a child and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, hypervigilance, hyper-arousal and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Dan Squires QC, representing the teenager, told the court he was placed in solitary confinement for almost the entirety of his time at Feltham Young Offenders Institute.
For the first two months he was locked in alone, not permitted any contact with any other child and given 30 minutes a day to shower, exercise and make phone calls.
Since February he has been allowed out for slightly longer, but still spends at least 22 hours alone in his cell.
Lawyers also say he has not been given the statutory minimum of 15 hours education per week, but has instead received an average of just one hour 40 minutes per week.
Legal documents say AB was initially placed in solitary confinement because of his “history in previous custody”.
Mr Squires claimed placing offenders with “challenging behaviour” in solitary confinement was “common practice” at Feltham, citing a report which found that more than 25% of the boys there were held in similar conditions to the claimant.
The hearing will resume on Wednesday.
Lawyers expect the judgment to be reserved.