HC Deb 20 May 1982 vol 24 cc454-5
2. Sir William van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average cost per young offender at Portland borstal.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Patrick Mayhew)

Figures for individual establishments are not available. The average weekly cost of keeping a person in a borstal or young prisoner centre was £180 in 1980–81.

Sir William van Straubenzee

Is not one of the weaknesses of the sentences served at Portland, as well as at other borstals, that they have an inderterminate nature? Does my hon. and learned Friend appreciate that he would have great support if he phased out borstal sentences and replaced them with determinate youth custody orders.

Mr. Mayhew

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. There is a wide body of support for the provision in the Criminal Justice Bill—which received its Third Reading last night—which ensures that the indeterminate sentences for young offenders will be phased out. In future, sentences will be determinate. That is a great advance.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Does the Minister recall that the reconviction rate for young people leaving borstal institutions has increased from 63 to 69 per cent. in the past five years and that the figure for juveniles is 83 per cent.? Therefore, does he accept that, given the ineffectiveness of custody and residential care in preventing the commission of further offences, there should be a massive and fundamental change of resources away from custodial sentences to other options within the community?

Mr. Mayhew

In those custodial establishments, I do not dispute that the success rate for going straight for more than two years is not encouraging. On the other hand, custodial sentences must be available to the courts for dangerous offenders, including young offenders.

Mr. Greenway

Does not the cost of keeping people in Portland borstal, or anywhere else, include an element to cover the cost of education? Will my hon. and learned Friend give an assurance that the quality of education in borstals and other custodial institutions—for the young or for anyone else—will be kept under constant review?

Mr. Mayhew

The cost of keeping people in such institutions certainly includes the cost of educational staff. There are no plans to change the present educational arrangements at such institutions.