The Youth Justice Board has asked young offender institutions to increase cell sharing among young people in custody and assess their suitability for early release in a bid to stave off an overcrowding crisis.
The YJB announced the move on Tuesday as it admitted that the number of young people in the secure estate had been “rising significantly” since June this year.
The board said the rise was partly due to a “substantial increase” in the number of 15- to 17-year-old boys being given custodial sentences in the past year.
In a move likely to prove controversial, the board said it would increase the use of compulsory cell sharing, following risk assessments.
Single cell rooms may be converted as part of the drive to increase capacity, it said. Governors will also be expected to identify detainees aged over 18 who can be moved to adult prisons.
The YJB said governors should also consider moving some offenders to secure training centres and secure training homes, which have more availability than YOIs.