‘Board must aim for bigger custody cuts’

    Campaigners have told the Youth Justice Board that the secure
    estate for juveniles will not improve without an “ambitious” target
    for reducing numbers of young people in custody.

    The YJB’s target of a 10 per cent reduction was called
    “disappointing” by the British Association of Social Workers,
    rehabilitation agency Nacro and the Howard League for Penal
    Reform.

    They were responding to the YJB’s consultation on the secure
    estate, which finished last month.

    According to BASW the target “was not good enough to effect the
    radical change that is needed to safeguard and promote the well
    being of children and young people in trouble”. The Howard League
    urged the YJB to increase the target to “at least” 20 per cent
    “within twelve months”.

    Concern was also raised by BASW 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 said 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 it 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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