Clarke drops hint on custody shake-up

Home secretary Charles Clarke this week hinted at plans to create a
“coherent framework” of services for young offenders.

He was commenting on proposals in the forthcoming Sentencing and
Youth Justice Bill, leaked to Community Care, that suggest young
offender institutions, secure training centres and local authority
secure children’s homes will be brought “under one roof” with
common standards.

He made the comment after giving the Prison Reform Trust’s annual
lecture in London.

During the lecture, Clarke outlined plans to divert mentally ill
offenders into treatment and place prisoners on short-term
sentences near their homes. He added that remanded and sentenced
prisoners should be held separately.

Clarke rejected the “popular suggestion” that community sentences
were a “soft option” and said he wanted to see more use of

He pledged to give offenders “individualised” packages of support,
but admitted the government would need to address the growing
prison population – now at a record 77,000 – to ensure the measures
were effective.

Clarke also reiterated the government’s controversial plans to make
prison and probation services “contestable” by making existing
providers compete with voluntary and private sector groups to run

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