Prison service to improve transport

    New contracts for escorting juvenile offenders to and from court
    are coming into force next month, heralding an end to the poor
    conditions young people are forced to endure on these
    journeys.

    The Prison Service is re-negotiating its contracts with private
    escort companies and the Youth Justice Board has stipulated that
    juveniles should no longer be transported alongside adult
    prisoners.

    The contracts will specify that there should be comfort breaks
    every 2.5 hours – with strict penalties for non-compliance – and
    that escort staff will be trained to deal with juvenile
    prisoners.

    Children will be transported in multi-purpose vehicles such as
    people carriers – although existing vans with cells will be used in
    some circumstances.

    The current arrangements have long been deplored by penal reformers
    and chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers has repeatedly raised the
    plight of children forced to urinate in carrier bags during long
    journeys.

    Research for Community Care finds that half of professionals
    working in the youth justice system have worked with young
    offenders who have been subjected to uncomfortable journeys, and 15
    per cent have worked with offenders who have experienced abuse from
    escort staff. Almost three in 10 have worked with clients who have
    suffered poor toilet facilities while being transported.

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