Government urged to stop using custody to reduce youth crime

The government should reverse its strategy of using custody to
reduce youth crime, the Children’s Society has urged,
writes Clare Jerrom.

Following an inspection report of Eastwood Park women’s
prison labelled it “an establishment in crisis”, the
society’s youth justice programme manager, Sharon Moore said:
“Surely it is time now for the government to look at the crisis its
policy is creating in our prisons and stop locking young people up.
It is the most serious human rights abuse in the UK today.”

Chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers, who wrote the report,
said at the time of inspection, Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire
was “unable to provide a safe, decent and constructive environment
for many of the women and girls within it”.

The inspection report recognised the 30 per cent shortfall in
staff recruitment, the arrival of 15 to 17 year-old-girls and the
pressures on the women’s estate. But it also said the prison
had “excellent staff, struggling against the odds”.

An inspection report of Low Newton women’s prison and
young offenders’ institution in Durham, “reveals many
examples of the proper treatment of women prisoners”.

The report highlights areas of good practice including an
excellent health service, and highlighted good preliminary work was
being done to offer help to some of the women who had suffered
physical and sexual abuse.

It recommends the drugs strategy is revised to address the needs
of women offenders, the personal officer scheme should be
strengthened with an appropriate management structure, and a
strategy for the care of young women prisoners should be developed

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