New prison units for girls to avoid detention in adult prisons

A network of new prison units for girls is to be built by the
Home Office in a bid to end the practice of holding children in
women’s prisons, David Blunkett has announced,
writes Clare Jerrom.

The home secretary revealed that £16 million has been
allocated to the Youth Justice Board to set up five new specialist
units for the 86 16 and 17-year-old girls in Prison Service
accommodation. Work has already begun at Downview Prison in

The move coincides with two reports by the prisons inspectorate
and schools watchdog Ofsted which raise concerns about the small
number of girls being held in adult prisons.

Roy Walker, chair of the Secure Accommodation Network, said his
immediate reaction to the Home Office’s announcement was that
it was part of a long term strategy for the Youth Justice Board to
be less reliant on secure beds in local authority secure
children’s homes.

The YJB is about to announce the results of a re-tendering
exercise with secure children’s homes, and it is understood
that four of the 28 have not been offered new contracts.

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