§ Mr. Hinchliffe
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to respond to the report of the United Nations Committee on Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding his policy on secure training centres; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Maclean
The proceedings of the committee ended with its concluding observations. But I take this opportunity to record that we reject the committee's observations about secure training orders. Its observations contain serious misunderstandings, despite the extensive written material provided to the committee before its oral hearings, and despite the specific information given by United Kingdom representatives at the end of nine hours of hearings during the brief opportunity to respond to the committee's oral questions on this matter.
The committee appears to believe that the existence of the secure training centres could he inconsistent with the provisions of the convention requiring that detention or imprisonment of a child shall be used as a measure of last resort. As was explained to the committee, that is not so. By section 1 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, custodial sentences, whether for adults or children, are available to the courts only in limited circumstances and in effect as a last resort. Secure training orders, when brought into force, will be subject to that provision. Such orders will be available only for persistent offenders, and will be served in purpose-built establishments providing a high standard of training and care reflecting the needs of the young offender concerned, and the need to minimise the risk of further offending.