HL Deb 27 October 1997 vol 582 cc227-8WA
Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

asked Her Majesty's Government:.

What consultation the Home Secretary had with the Task Force on Youth Justice prior to his announcement concerning custody for 12 year-olds; and what advice he was given.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn)

On 15 October, the Home Secretary outlined his plans to begin implementing Section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 and Section 20 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which give courts the power to remand some juvenile offenders direct to local authority secure accommodation. At present, the courts have no powers to require 12 to 14 year-olds or 15 and 16 year-old girls to be remanded in secure facilities, however serious or persistent their alleged offending. But there is insufficient local authority secure accommodation to implement these powers in full at this stage. The Government have therefore decided to give priority to bringing the new remand powers into force for these groups and aim to do so as soon as is practicable. In addition, the Government intend to give the courts the power to remand the most vulnerable 15 and 16 year-old boys direct to local authority secure accommodation, instead of Prison Service accommodation, subject to certain criteria and if a place has been identified in advance. Provision to be included in the Crime and Disorder Bill will amend existing legislation to allow for this implementation plan. The Government will keep under review the arrangements for remanding 15 and 16 year-old boys to Prison Service accommodation.

The Task Force on Youth Justice has delivered advice to Home Office Ministers on the development of a wide range of youth justice policies and this work is reflected in the three consultation papers on Youth Justice published in September and October. That advice has not addressed how to implement the existing powers for courts to remand juveniles to local authority secure accommodation.