Number of detained young women increases

There has been a 40 per cent increase in the number of young
women in secure facilities over the last year, according to the
Youth Justice Board annual review, writes Clare

The figures show there were 155 girls in secure facilities in
April 2001, which rose to 218 in April 2002. At the end of March
2002, females accounted for 7 per cent of the juvenile population
in custody.

This reflects the increase of the female population in adult
prisons, which currently stands at 4,428, according to the home

However, the most common profile of a school-age offender is a
white male aged 14-16, who is most likely to live in London and the
south east or the north-east, and to be excluded from school, the
report says. The most common offence committed by young people is
theft and handling.

Significant process has been made in tackling the delays which
occur between the arrest of a young person and sentencing. The
average time has been cut from 142 days to 63 in April 2002.

Lord Warner, chairperson of the Youth Justice Board, urged
social services departments to improve the discharge of their
statutory responsibilities to looked after children, especially
care leavers, who are disproportionately represented in the youth
offending population.

Local authorities should ensure youngsters at risk of offending
have access to mainstream services, particularly education,
supported housing and family support.




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