More ‘open’ beds planned as board extends custody reduction deadline

Its strategy also indicates that the target date to reduce the population of young people in custody by one-tenth has been put back a year.

In November 2004, when the strategy for the secure estate for juveniles was put out for consultation, the board said it wanted to cut the number of young people in custody by 10 per cent, or 270 places, by March 2007.

But this week it outlined plans for a similar reduction between March 2005 and March 2008.

This follows a six-month period in which the number of juveniles in custody rose to a three-year high. At the end of October 2,947 children and young people were in custody, down 50 on September, but still up by more than 250 since April.

The strategy puts forward measures to hold young offenders who do not require high security in open sections of children’s homes, residential special schools and open children’s homes.

There are just 60 “open” beds in the juvenile estate but only young offender institutions can offer open accommodation. Although the YJB said the proposals would depend on a change in the law, it was unclear whether this would be achieved under the expected Sentencing and Youth Justice Bill.

Chief executive Ellie Roy admitted there was “uncertainty” about “when and if” the bill would be announced.

The strategy also sets out other measures to develop a range of accommodation in Wales to hold Welsh children and young people, most of whom are held in England.

It also suggests developing smaller scale accommodation units to house 200-300 vulnerable older boys who need intensive support.

The board said the strategy’s success would depend on sentencing trends and resources over the next three years.

New proposals on sentencing young offenders for robbery convictions were issued this week by the body that sets guidelines for the courts. The Sentencing Guidelines Council recommended that young people convicted of robbery that involved the threat or use of minimal force should receive community orders only.

  • Strategy from
  • Robbery guidelines from

  • More from Community Care

    Comments are closed.