§ Mr. Moore
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what actions he has taken to improve the management of Her Majesty's Young Offenders Institution and Remand Centre, Feltham following the report by the steering group set up by the Director General of the Prison Service in response to the recommendations made by the Chief Inspector of Prisons. 
§ Mr. George Howarth
The steering group set up by the Director General of the Prison Service for Feltham Young Offenders Institution, following the Chief Inspector of Prisons' report, endorsed the recommendations contained in the four reports submitted to it by the task force which went into Feltham to address the immediate problems. The recommendations will form part of an action plan detailing improvements to be taken forward and will build on the six month improvement plan charted at the time of the inspection. This action plan is expected to be finalised shortly.
Many improvements have already been taken forward at Feltham. The task force identified 39 issues for immediate action, 33 of these have now been implemented and work on the remaining six is well in hand. The significant achievements include:making significant in-roads into the 'transit-camp' problem by ending the use of Kestrel unit as a daily discharge unit and the use of Osprey unit for allocation purposes;reducing the capacity of Feltham by 72 thereby reducing the overcrowding and allowing the refurbishment of two units to begin;increasing the quality of health care by moving into a fully refurbished health care unit and through the provision of eight officers on detached duty from other establishments to offset the staff shortages; discussions have begun with the local health authority about future service delivery;increasing the amount of physical education from two to five classes in both the morning and afternoon sessions;increasing the numbers attending education by 30;securing additional £2 million funding to develop a separate regime for under 18 year olds which will include 12 hours out of cell each day and 30 hours purposeful activity each week, for which a further £3.4 million capital investment is being made to provide separate reception and education facilities for the under 18s.an assessment centre has been held to recruit more officers. Consultation on proposals for revised staff attendance and shift patterns commenced this month;nearly 600 mattresses have been replaced and general cleanliness and hygiene have been improved with new cleaning schedules and inspection arrangements; andfunds have been made available to undertake a backlog of small repairs.
§ Mr. Allan
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if a court can order a secure remand for a young defendant when no place is available; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what was the total availability of local authority secure accommodation for juvenile and young offenders on the last date for which figures are available and in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement; 251W
(3) what has been the demand for secure accommodation for juvenile and young offenders in each of the last 12 months; on how many occasions a place was not found when requested; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what representations he has received about the operation of the national clearing system for secure accommodation for juvenile and young offenders; and if he will make a statement; 
§ Mr. Straw
The local authority secure estate is used both to accommodate any child who is being looked after by the local authority under the Children Act 1989, and to hold those who are sentenced under section 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969, those sentenced to a secure training order under section 1 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and those who are held on secure remand. Since 1994, the number of approved secure places, those children accommodated and the occupancy rate of secure units available1 in England and Wales2 (as at 31 March) is given in the table:
Year Approved places Children accommodated Occupancy rate (per cent.) 1994 289 244 84 1995 266 233 88 1996 274 246 90 1997 348 290 83 1998 456 334 73 1 Children Accommodated in Secure Units, year ending 31 March 1998 2 Welsh information has only been available since 1997 (previously Wales had two small units providing two places each)
A Government funded building programme was put in place to expand the local authority secure estate by 170 places specifically to allow for the implementation of the provisions in relation to court-ordered secure remands. These places are now available and the total number of approved places in local authority secure accommodation is 460.
Section 97 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which came into force on 1 June 1999, allows courts, where certain criteria are met, to remand direct to local authority secure accommodation 12 to 14 year old boys and girls and 15 and 16 year old girls. Where a court remands a child or young person to local authority secure accommodation, it must designate a relevant local authority. Under section 23(4) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969, there is a requirement on the court to consult the designated local authority before it imposes a security requirement. The purpose of such consultation is to allow the local authority to provide the court with information so that the court is best placed to make an appropriate decision depending on the circumstances of the case. Such information should include the nature and availability of local provision to support a remand in the community, and the nature and availability of secure and non-secure local authority accommodation. Where the court then remands a child or young person to local authority secure accommodation, the designated local authority is under a duty under section 61 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 to comply with the security requirement.
Section 98 of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, which also came into force on 1 June 1999, allows courts, where certain criteria are met, to remand direct to local authority 252W secure accommodation 15 and 16 year old boys whom, by reason of their physical or emotional immaturity or a propensity to harm themselves, the courts consider it would be undesirable to remand to Prison Service accommodation. Before reaching such an opinion the court must consult a probation officer, a local authority social worker or a member of a youth offending team and before ordering a remand to local authority secure accommodation in such a case, the court must be notified that such accommodation is available.
In providing advice to the courts about the availability of local authority secure accommodation and in complying with security requirements imposed by the courts, local authorities may use information held by the national bedbank service, set up and funded by the Department of Health and operated by Leeds Social Services Department. This is not a clearing house facility and is designed only to provide information to local authorities on the availability of secure places. We have received one written representation on the operation of the national bedbank service.
Information is not recorded centrally on the demand for local authority secure accommodation or the number of occasions a place has not been found when requested.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, announced in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Leicestershire (Mr. Taylor) on 22 July 1999, Official Report, columns 622-23, that the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales will, from April 2000, become the commissioning and purchasing body for all forms of secure accommodation for children and young people on remand or under sentence. A copy of the Board's advice on how this should operate has been placed in the Library. One element is the establishment of a clearing house facility to manage the placement of children and young people in secure accommodation, including the local authority secure estate. The Board is now consulting local authorities and other bodies on its proposals.
§ Mr. George Howarth
The size of Young Offender Institutions in England and Wales was considered as part of the design for the Prison Service's new distinct juvenile estate, and I refer the right hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) on 27 April 1999,Official Report, column 109, about the composition of the estate.
Since then, Aylesbury has been withdrawn from the estate as the need for the role originally envisaged for the establishment has changed. Aylesbury will continue to take a small number of difficult/longer-term juveniles where that offers the most appropriate way of meeting their individual needs.
There are no proposals to vary the size of Young Offender Institutions for 18-20 year old offenders.
§ Mr. George Howarth
The Prison Service is in the process of developing its 'Nature of Adolescence' training for staff who work with young people in custody. This work is being carried out in collaboration with the Trust for the Study of Adolescence. Separately, the Youth Justice Board has begun tendering for the provision of training for all staff who work in the youth justice system, which will make with special provision for those who work in secure facilities. This is to support the implementation of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, and the delivery of the principal aim of the youth justice system which is to prevent offending by children and young people.