The Court of Appeal today rejected an application for judicial review by campaigners who claimed that the state had prevented child victims of unlawful restraint accessing justice.
Ruling on an appeal brought by the Children's Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) against a previous High Court ruling, the Court of Appeal said that the state acted lawfully when it misled children in custody about their rights.
Although the court acknowledged that unlawful restraint of children in custody was widespread, it did not find that the state hindered children's access to justice when it led them to believe that their treatment was lawful.
Hundreds of children in custody were unlawfully restrained when authorities allowed force to be used for the purposes of maintaining order.
The court said that as a result of the authorities' "confused thinking," children were not only subject to unlawful force, they were also led to believe that they could not challenge this practice.
Nevertheless the court failed to find that the state had breached children's right of access to justice.
CRAE had argued that the authorities should contact and inform children that their rights may have been breached. The court's judgement means that they are not obliged to do so.
Director Paola Uccellari said she was dismayed by the ruling, adding: "The state should have been helping these children but instead allowed a culture to develop in child prisons where children were led to believe that their treatment was perfectly lawful."
CRAE said it was considering whether to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.