Children’s secretary Ed Balls has confirmed the government will push forward legislation to strengthen councils’ duties towards children in custody.
Balls said the government would table amendments to the Apprenticeships, Skills and Learning Bill, now going through parliament, to introduce new responsibilities.
His announcement, in a debate on the bill this week, follows last year’s Youth Crime Action Plan, which pledged to strengthen councils’ duties towards young offenders. The consultation on the plan closed last October but the government has yet to issue a full response.
Balls told MPs that the bill’s reforms would include responsibilities on councils for educating young offenders, including those with special educational needs, during and after custody.
“Local authorities and the youth custody estate will have an obligation as far as possible to continue that special focus on those with learning difficulties while they are in custody,” he said. “That, among other changes, will be very important in ensuring that these clauses have real, detailed teeth.”
The Apprenticeships, Skills and Learning Bill, which will also strengthen children’s trusts, now moves to committee stage where the amendments will be debated.