‘Custodial sentences should be last resort’

A custodial sentence should be the last resort for juvenile
offenders, according to Home Office minister Hilary Benn.

Speaking at last week’s conference run by rehabilitation agency
Nacro, Benn said the government did not want to lock up children.
He said that was why courts were provided with a range of
community-based penalties specifically targeted at young people who
would otherwise face a custodial remand or sentence.

Speaking at the same conference, Nacro’s director of crime
reduction, Keith Towler, said more children and much younger
children were imprisoned in England and Wales than in any
neighbouring European countries.

“Given that in 90 per cent of cases, custody leads to more not less
offending, can we honestly claim that this is in either the child’s
or the public’s interest?” he asked.

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