Overload may cause more youth deaths

Overcrowding in prisons could lead to more young people dying in custody, a senior official has warned.

Neil Beales, head of safeguarding at Huntercombe Young Offender Institution in Oxfordshire, said he was very concerned that staff were unable to communicate properly with inmates because they did not have enough time.

Deployment of staff across wings in Huntercombe interfered with efforts to address offending behaviour, he told a conference organised by the Howard League for Penal Reform. Beales said: “The population overload is helping to destroy the very fabric of what should go on inside prisons.”

Helen Martin, an officer from Hounslow youth offending team in west London, said there were not enough staff at Huntercombe to let young offenders out of their cells for education.

  • “One or two” cases where young people in custody have been restrained by staff seeking “a form of sexual release” have been uncovered by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, who is leading an inquiry into the treatment of young offenders.

    The inquiry is due to report in February.

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