New secure units for girls to be built

The Home Office is to build new prison units for girls to try to
end the practice of holding children in women’s prisons, David
Blunkett announced this week.

The home secretary revealed that £16m of new money 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 started at Downview Prison in

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

Roy Walker, chair of the Secure Accommodation Network, said he
thought the Home Office’s announcement was part of a longer-term
strategy for the Youth Justice Board to rely less on secure beds in
local authority secure children’s homes.

The board is about to announce the results of a retendering
exercise with secure children’s homes.

It is understood that four of the 28 have not been offered new
contracts (news, page 9, 15 April).

– Reports from

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