Campaigners have told the Youth Justice Board the secure estate
for juveniles will not improve without an “ambitious”
target for reducing numbers of young people in custody,
writes Maria Ahmed.
In response to the YJB’s consultation on the secure
estate, the British Association of Social Workers, rehabilitation
agency Nacro and the Howard League for Penal Reform called the
YJB’s target of a 10 per cent reduction
BASW said the target “was not good enough to effect the
radical change that is needed to safeguard and promote the
wellbeing of children and young people in trouble”. The
Howard League urged the YJB to extend the target to “at
least” 20 per cent “within 12 months”.
BASW also raised concern over the YJB’s proposals to
“work closely” with private contractors to improve the
secure estate and expressed alarm over the “scandalous”
lack of investment in local authority secure children’s
BASW argued that Young Offender Institutions and Secure Training
Centres were “not conducive” to the needs of vulnerable
children, highlighting the deaths last year of young offenders Adam
Rickwood and Gareth Myatt.
The Howard League also said they did not support the
construction of “more and more varied institutions for the
incarceration of children”, while Nacro was “not
convinced” that the proposed expansion of Secure Training
Centres was the best way forward.
Campaigners were also concerned at the omission of the UN
Convention of the Rights of the Child from the YJB’s
proposals, arguing that it should form the basis for all
decision-making regarding the treatment of children in the penal