Welsh young offenders placed over border due to lack of secure units

A new report on youth offending in Wales warns that there are
“unacceptable” shortages in secure accommodation for
young people in the principality, writes Alex

The joint report from the Welsh assembly and the Youth Justice
Board – The All Wales Youth Offending Strategy – highlights what it
says are a number of concerns about the lack of accommodation,
which results in Welsh youngsters being placed in English

And the report calls for urgent representations to be made to
Westminster over the need for funding and the development of
custodial facilities in Wales.

The draft document says that there is anecdotal evidence that
Welsh young offenders held in English facilities are particularly
vulnerable to bullying, and that they face unsatisfactory journeys
detained in cells inside vehicles to reach their destinations.

“Children and young people are carried in cellular
vehicles, staff ratios are low, staff are untrained in childcare,
long delays are involved, children are sometimes detained in
transit without comfort breaks, and sometime arrive at custodial
facilities after reception had closed and have to be placed in a
police cell,” it says.

The report says that the staff that work with young offenders
also have to spend large amounts of time traveling to visit the
young clients. The problem is likely to get worse with the partial
withdrawal of the YJB from Ashfield Young Offenders Institution in
Bristol where the majority of young Welsh offenders are currently

The YJB, which commissions and buys places at Ashfield,
confirmed in February that it would be reducing the current 212
places to just 40 remand places after the privately-run centre
failed to improve standards.

Although the Youth Justice Board aims to place young offenders
no more than 50 miles from their homes, health and social services
minister, Jane Hutt told the Welsh assembly that of the 182 Welsh
offenders currently detained, only 42 were housed in Wales. 

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