§ Sir John Wheeler
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are proposed for the committal of young persons sentenced to periods of detention in young offender institutions following the implementation of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.
§ Mr. Peter Lloyd
The Criminal Justice Act 1991, which comes into effect on 1 October, changes sentencing arrangements for those under 18 years of age and replaces the juvenile court by a new youth court to deal with all young persons up to the age of 17.
These changes will be reflected in the way in which the prison service manages the sentenced young offender population. Two new age bands will be introduced of 15 to 17 years for juveniles, as opposed to 14 to 16 years at present, and 18 to 20 years for young adults.
The proposed arrangements for the committal of male young offenders sentenced to periods of detention in a young offender institution will be as follows. Juveniles will in future be taken direct from the court of sentence to one of six designated juvenile institutions at Deerbolt, north Yorkshire, Feltham in London, Guys Marsh, Dorset, Onley, Warwickshire, Werrington, Staffordshire, and Whetherby, west Yorkshire. A further young offender institution, Thorn Cross near Warrington in Cheshire, will also hold juveniles who are considered suitable to be housed in open conditions.
Further consultation will now take place with other criminal justice agencies in respect of the catchment areas each establishment will serve. All young adults will be committed to an allocation unit in the nearest remand centre or local prison serving the court. Those serving short sentences, who are currently subject to separate direct committal arrangements, will be allocated to a young offender institution at the earliest opportunity. Closeness to home will be an important consideration in the allocation decision.
It is not proposed to make any changes to the committal arrangements for young women who will be affected by the new provisions. They will continue to be held in the most appropriate female establishment closest to their homes.