HC Deb 27 February 1998 vol 307 c412W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what reasons she proposes to repeal the requirement on Northern Irish courts to consider the religious persuasion of a child before placing him or her in a custodial institution. [31622]

Mr. Ingram

At present approximately 50 per cent. of children in custody are held in secure accommodation for both Protestant and Catholic boys at Lisnevin. Under the Criminal Justice Order (NI) 1996, custodial orders must reflect the seriousness of offending. The prospective Criminal Justice (Children) Order would reduce the circumstances when children may be remanded in custody. The combined effect should be a reduction to the more serious and persistent offenders and those given custodial orders. Many of these will require secure accommodation and this, rather than religion, will be the principal criterion in deciding to which Centre a boy will be placed.