Figures distort danger in young offenders institutions, says Warner

The method used to record the number of assaults among juveniles
in custody is misleading, inaccurate and must be changed, says the
chairperson of the Youth Justice Board.

Lord Warner said young offenders institutions were nothing like
as dangerous as statistics suggest, as every “push and
shove” is recorded.
His comments followed a Prison Reform Trust report that said the
prison service had failed to meet six of 15 key performance

One of the targets was to ensure that less than 9 per cent of
prisoners, staff and visitors were victims of assault. But in
2001-2 there were 6,684 assaults recorded – a rate of 9.9 per

The highest rates were at male juvenile establishments followed
by male young offenders institutions (news, page 11, 8
Lord Warner said the figures were misleading because they were
based on the number of beds in an establishment, not the number of
people held over the year.

“An establishment may, for example, have 800 beds and 80
assaults. According to the prison service, that is an assault rate
of 10 per cent,” Warner said. “But that does not allow
for the turnover of a YOI. The number of young people entering and
leaving that establishment in any year could be anything up to four
times the number of beds.”

The report also found that the target of at least 1,160
prisoners completing the sex offender treatment programme was not
met. Just 839 prisoners completed the treatment and there were more
than 4,000 sex offenders in prison who did not undertake the
treatment programme.
A prison service spokesperson said there was a number of offending
behaviour programmes where the targets had been exceeded. But the
spokesperson admitted the sex offender treatment target was not one
of them and attributed this to a national shortage of staff with
the necessary specialist skills to deliver the programmes.

– The Prisons League Table 2001-2002, Performance against
Key Performance Indicators
is available from the Prison Reform
Trust on 020 7251 5070.

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