An enlightened move

In a positive development, the Youth Justice Board has suggested more children and young people in custody should be held in “open” settings. The national press has likened the idea to a revival of the old borstal system but the reality is quite the opposite and is aimed at providing a more enlightened regime.

The move is part of the board’s new strategy which has been generally welcomed in a major consultation exercise. But there were some warning notes, particularly on the issue of the high number of children in custody; the message that jail should only be a last resort is still not getting through to the courts.

Perhaps in recognition of this the YJB has allowed its target of a 10 per cent reduction in the number of children in custody to slip by a year, which is very disappointing. None of us must lose sight of the fact that, in a civilised society, prison is no place for any child.

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