The Youth Justice Board said this week that it was “extremely
worried” about the possibility of its proposals to build five
secure training centres for young offenders being scrapped.
The YJB believes its four-year plan for five centres, which would
provide 400 places for persistent young offenders, could be
scrapped as part of the dispute between home secretary David
Blunkett and chancellor Gordon Brown over how the money announced
in the spending review in July will be spent.
“It seems very odd when our corporate plan was ratified by
ministers back in February,” a YJB spokesperson said.
The proposals aim to remove the most vulnerable 15 and 16-year-old
boys, and all girls, out of Prison Service accommodation and into
smaller privately run secure training centres, which the YJB
believes would better accommodate them.
The YJB shares concerns with the chief inspector of prisons, Anne
Owers, and the lord chief justice, Lord Woolf, about the care of
children in young offenders institutions because of pressure on
custodial places as a result of overcrowding. The prison population
is now 72,000, while the juvenile estate population is now
The YJBsays that because the new secure units are smaller, more
adaptable and have a better staff-to-children ratio, they can
provide a better regime.
A Home Office spokesperson said details of how the extra money from
the spending review will be spent would be announced shortly. She
could not yet say whether any of the £60m announced this week
for an emergency prison-building programme would be spent on the