Minister recalls juvenile establishment visit as his ‘most depressing moment’

Home Office minister Hilary Benn admitted last week that visiting a
secure juvenile establishment was “the most depressing moment of my

Benn, the minister responsible for prisons and probation, told the
conference that the visit had motivated him to say that more had to
be done to improve conditions.

“What we have done in the past is not acceptable and what we do in
the future must be better,” said Benn, who took ministerial
responsibility for children and young people after John Denham

Putting people into custody was not an article of government
policy, he said, but protecting the public was.

The biggest gap remained the help and support available in the
community for people after release from prison, but Benn insisted
that there was now a greater interest at government level in

“It will save a lot of work and heartache later onÉif we can
intervene with support at an earlier stage before problems become
too difficult to manage,” he said.

He promised that the green paper on children at risk would focus on
early intervention.

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