Suspected London rioters being held in juvenile detention facilities are reportedly being victimized by other prisoners, their families have told the U.K.'s Independent.
The prisoner population continues to soar to new highs as more young people are remanded into custody. According to the Independent, that's led to worsening conditions with attacks on suspected rioters, cell overcrowding and longer detention periods to separate inmates from one another.
One mother told the newspaper her son was attacked because fellow prisoners thought he was a rioter.
"They thumped him right in the face," she said. "He's not one of the rioters. But because he arrived on the same day as some of the rioters those inside attacked him."
She said mattresses have been placed on the floor to handle the overload of prisoners.
"Those cells are tiny," she said. "The person on the floor will have their head right next to a toilet."
Paul Mathew, an attorney representing a 15-year-old riot suspect said prison authorities were keeping looters apart from those already inside.
"Those suspected of rioting are being held separate from the rest of the population for their own safety," he said. "I asked my client what he did all day and he told that they are almost always in lock-up. There seems to be no education or training. We're creating criminals of the future."
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman denied the suspected rioters are being held separately or that they have been targeted.
"Those people suspected or convicted of rioting are treated in the same way as other prisoners and there have been no assaults other than some scuffles two weeks ago," she told the Independent.
According to Ministry of Justice figures, there are currently 86,821 people behind bars, up 167 from last week's record high of 86,654 inmates. The Prison Reform Trust, an advocacy organization, said some suspected teenage rioters have been transported to U.K. prisons up to 200 miles away from London to manage the overcrowding.
The Ministry of Justice did acknowledge some of those reports were true: "They will be moved as space becomes available in the south," the spokeswoman said.