Chief prison inspector calls for improvements to services for young adults

The proper support and resourcing of services for young people
in the prison system is one of the most urgent tasks facing
government and the prison service, according to the chief inspector
of prisons, writes Clare Jerrom.

The young adult estate holding 18-21 year olds requires the same
injection of ring-fenced money and attention as has already been
given to the juvenile estate, Anne Owers says in her first annual
report published today.

In the first half of 2002, reforms of the juvenile justice were
bedding in, suicide in prison was reducing, resettlement was
recognised as a core activity, and health care was beginning to
show modest improvements, Owers says.

“However, the second half of the year has been dominated
not by possibility for change and reform, but by the debilitating
and chilling effect of prison over-crowding,” she adds.

The prison population, currently over 72,000, is constantly
changing and as a result the vulnerable may not be properly
identified, Owers warns. The number of children in prison has also
risen to close to 3,000 and “looks set to rise

Owers highlights two groups of young prisoners as cause for
particular concern: girls and children on remand.

Many girls are held in adult prisons and the inspectorate found
“minimal acknowledgement of their special needs and
vulnerability” in most establishments.

Increasing numbers of children on remand are held in prison, yet
there are no mandatory standards for the education, training or
activity they achieve.

Annual report from


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