Private sector wins justice board’s vote to hold young offenders

Local authority secure homes “would not be able to handle” young
offenders as effectively as privatised young offender institutions,
Youth Justice Board chair Rod Morgan said last week.

He told a conference to mark the close of Community Care’s Back on
Track campaign that YOIs “had benefited” from the private

Last month, home office minister Paul Goggins said the government
was considering privatising YOIs for under-18s, but Morgan refused
to be pressed on whether a decision had been made.

Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said
privatisation would “dilute” the work of the YJB, adding that she
supported the use of local authority secure homes.

Morgan also expressed concerns about the rising number of children
in care “needlessly” appearing before the courts for low-risk,
minor offences. He said many were brought on charges, such as
causing damage in residential homes.

He called for magistrates’ courts to take into account the
“multiple problems” of children in care and said greater protection
should be given to those at risk of being caught up in the criminal
justice system.

Morgan said the deaths of Gareth Myatt, Adam Rickwood and Joseph
Scholes had sent “shockwaves” through the criminal justice

He called for more facilities to reduce the chance of suicide and
self-harm and highlighted a case at Stoke Heath YOI this year,
where it took eight months to transfer a young offender to a
psychiatric unit.

Pauline Campbell, the mother of Sarah Campbell, 18, who died in
Styal prison last year, said she “fully supported” the Back on
Track campaign’s call for greater use of community sentences to
slash the number of young people in custody.

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