The Social Services Inspectorate has pledged to improve the
conditions of young people in the criminal justice system.
SSI chief inspector, Denise Platt, said Safeguarding Children, a
joint report by eight inspectorates including the SSI and the
Prisons Inspectorate, had identified gaps in service provision for
the 9,000 18 to 20 year olds in the system.
“They are a vulnerable group – very immature in an extremely adult
environment,” Platt told the annual meeting of the Howard League
for Penal Reform. She added that it was “a matter of real distress”
that children were held in adult prisons.
Platt said she would work closely with the Prisons Inspectorate to
bring about change and that the chief inspector of prisons, Anne
Owers, was “very aware” of the problems.
Although the government wanted the eight inspectorates to carry out
joint inspections every three years, Platt said she would not wait
that long to re-visit the problems.
She also proposed that the SSI and Prisons Inspectorate begin joint
inspections of youth offending teams, adding that YOTs were
currently “working in silo”.
The Howard League’s latest figures, published at the meeting,
reveal that 33 prisons holding children are now overcrowded.
The charity’s director, Frances Crook, warned that the home
secretary faced an “annus horribilis” in 2003 if he failed to
reduce the prison population.