Study condemns shortage of secure places for young offenders in Wales

Wales is suffering from “unacceptable” shortages in secure
accommodation for young people, according to a new report on youth

The draft joint report from the Welsh assembly and the Youth
Justice Board, The All Wales Youth Offending Strategy,
highlights concerns that the lack of accommodation results in young
people from Wales being placed in English institutions.

It warns that there are no specialist child and adolescent mental
health services to meet the needs of young people who are in both
the mental health and youth justice systems.

The report’s authors also highlight the lack of secure mental
health inpatient and dedicated detoxification facilities for young

The report, which has gone out for consultation, calls for urgent
representations to be made to Westminster over the need for
investment in the Welsh youth justice system and the development of
custodial facilities in Wales.

It refers to anecdotal evidence that Welsh young offenders held in
England are particularly vulnerable to bullying and face
unsatisfactory journeys detained in cells inside vehicles to reach
their destinations. Staff who work with the young offenders have to
spend a lot of time travelling to visit their clients.

This problem is likely to be exacerbated with the planned phased
withdrawal of the YJB from Ashfield Young Offenders Institution in
Bristol, where the majority of young Welsh offenders are detained,
says the report.

The YJB, which commissions and buys places at Ashfield, confirmed
in February that it would be reducing its 212 places to just 40
remand places after the privately-run centre failed to improve
standards (news, page 8, 13 February).

Although the YJB aims to place young offenders no more than 50
miles from their homes, Welsh health and social services minister
Jane Hutt told the assembly that only 42 of the 182 Welsh young
offenders were held in Wales.

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