HC Deb 26 January 2004 vol 417 cc241-2W
Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the use of deprivation of liberty in the youth justice system. [145172]

Paul Goggins

Young offenders should be deprived of their liberty only as a last resort. Courts considering a custodial sentence must be satisfied that the offending behaviour is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified or, in the case of a violent or sexual offence, that such a sentence is needed to protect the public from serious harm. The only other situation where custody can be given is where the young offender refuses to co-operate with the requirements of a supervision order or a drug treatment and testing order. The court must also explain in open court its reasons for giving custody.

There is a further requirement where the court is considering making a Detention and Training Order on an offender below the age of 15: the court must additionally be satisfied that the young person is a persistent offender. (The Detention and Training Order is the standard order for offenders under 18 who are sentenced to custody).

Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ensure that the principle of non-discrimination is fully implemented within the youth justice system. [145174]

Paul Goggins

In 2004–05, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) for England and Wales will have a new diversity target. The precise form of words is still to be agreed but the aim will be to ensure that local outh offending teams in England and Wales have measures in place to tackle differential outcomes for different ethnic groups within the youth justice system.

To support this target, the YJB are working with the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders to help youth offending teams to produce action plans. This work will be informed by research commissioned by the YJB from Oxford University looking at the experiences of young black people in the youth justice system. This research is due to be published early in 2004.

Dr. Vis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many(a) secure children's home places and (b) places for children in prison were available in (i) 1997 and (ii) 2003; and if he will make a statement. [145213]

Paul Goggins

In April 2000, the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) assumed responsibility for commissioning and purchasing secure accommodation for juveniles from the prison service, private sector, and local authority secure children's homes, and for setting and monitoring standards. Before then, there was no separate juvenile secure estate.

Information is available on places in secure children's homes (see table) though not all would be used for young people in the criminal justice system. There were no designated places in 1997 for juveniles in prison service accommodation. For 2003–04, 3,066 places have been designated as being available for 15 to 17-year-olds in Young Offender Institutions-Young people below the age of 15 are not held in prison service accommodation.

In 2003, in addition to the above, 194 places in England and Wales are available in Secure Training Centres (STCs). No STCs were in operation in 1997.

Places approved at local authority secure children's homes in 1997 and 2003 were as follows:

As at 31 March
1997 2003
England 330 425
Wales 20 20
England and Wales 350 445