Campaigners raise concerns over YJB’s plans

    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
    “disappointing”.

    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
    homes.

    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
    system.

     

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