Prison numbers increase could force children to share with older inmates

YJB chief executive Ellie Roy said there was “severe” pressure on young offender institutions after latest figures showed the number of under-18s in custody reached 2,992 in September – up 228 on the same time last year.

While Roy said the YJB wanted under-18s to be held in accommodation designed for juveniles, she said demand for places meant they could be placed with young adults aged 18-21 “in extreme circumstances”.

The YJB is working with the prison service to identify additional short-term accommodation for under-18s, and warned that it would have to delay some planned projects to meet the cost.

Concerns have also been raised over young adults being placed in adult prisons rather than in YOIs.

This week, a prison service source told Community Care that young adults could be moved out of Feltham YOI into adult prisons in London to ease overcrowding.

The news comes as an inspection report on Feltham published this week finds young adults were quickly transferred to other settings because of population pressures, and only stayed an average of 11 days.

The practice came to light at the Zahid Mubarek inquiry at the end of September, where inquiry chair Justice Keith said he had seen young offenders being held on an adult wing at Altcourse prison, near Liverpool.

Michael Spurr, the prison service director of operations, told the inquiry that while 18- to 21-year olds on remand could be held in adult prisons with the aim of moving them to a YOI within two weeks of sentencing, this had “always created difficulty”.

This week, Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart said the government was considering implementing legislation passed in 2000 that allows it to abolish the sentence of detention in young offender institutions for young adults.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.