The Youth Justice Board is likely to miss its target to cut youth custody numbers by 10% from 2005-8.
Figures for February published last week showed there were 2,883 young people in young offender institutions, secure children’s homes and secure training centres, up from 2,828 in January. The board had been aiming to reduce the juvenile prison population from 2,676 in March 2005 to 2,408 by last month.
Sentencing is court matter
After the figures were published, a YJB spokesperson said: “The law makes it clear that for young people under 18, custody must be the last resort. But sentencing decisions in individual cases are a matter for the courts. The Youth Justice Board believes there is scope for reducing the use of custody and is working with sentencers to achieve this.”
The news came as an expert called on the government to admit its “shameful” failure to reduce the number of young people going into custody. Speaking at the Nacro youth crime conference last week, Enver Solomon, deputy director of the Centre for Crime and Justice studies at King’s College, London, blamed the increasing “criminalisation” of children for the rise in custody numbers.
Youth Justice Board