Number of young women in secure units rises by nearly half in a year

The number of young women in secure facilities
has risen by 40 per cent over the last year, according to the Youth
Justice Board.

figures show there were 155 young women in secure facilities in
April 2001, rising to 218 in April 2002. At the end of March this
year females accounted for 7 per cent of the juvenile population in

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, the North East or the South East, and to
be excluded from school, according to the YJB annual review. The
most common offence committed by young people is theft and handling
stolen goods.

Challenging the perception that
youth crime is spiralling out of control, Lord Warner, chairperson
of the YJB, said the youth justice reforms set out in the Crime and
Disorder Act 1998 are a success story.

Re-offending on bail has been
reduced significantly through bail supervision and support schemes.
Employment and training programmes have also helped by successfully
getting young people into jobs and training, even when they have
serious offending careers.

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

Preventing offending has been
tackled through youth inclusion programmes and holiday schemes,
which now target 60,000 young people and have reduced antisocial
behaviour in the high crime areas where they run.

Victims have reported greater
satisfaction with the criminal justice system when they have been
involved in restorative justice. Parenting programmes run between
spring 1999 and December 2001 cut offending by half among the young
people whose parents were on the courses.

Despite the successes, the board
would like to reduce the use of custody further, Warner

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.

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

also said that the government should sustain funding for targeted
and effective prevention programmes in high crime areas and support
programmes that underpin community penalties.

Youth Justice Board Annual Review – Building on Success

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