Scholes report: ‘Insufficient’ alternatives to custody for vulnerable young offenders

The Joseph Scholes report, published today, says there will be “insufficient” places for vulnerable young offenders outside of custody “for the foreseeable future”.

The report into the death of the 16-year-old, who hung himself at Stoke Heath Young Offender Institution in 2002, said a lack of suitable in-patient psychiatric beds for young people was a “major problem”.

David Lambert, a former assistant chief inspector of social services, was commissioned by the government in 2004 to examine the “operational issues” raised by Joseph’s death.

He completed his report in October last year but it was not published until today.

Joseph, who had a history of self-harm and physical and sexual abuse, was placed in Stoke Heath YOI despite the concerns of the judge at his sentencing about his ability to cope in custody.

Joseph’s mother Yvonne Scholes today criticised the Lambert report for failing to address why Joseph died.

She also said the report had been withheld from her until hours before its publication.

Community Care revealed in June that the government was refusing to show her the report.

Mrs Scholes, who is waiting to hear the outcome of an appeal into the government’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into Joseph’s death, said she was “disgusted” that she had been refused any “meaningful input” into the report.

She added: “It is a disgraceful reflection of the Home Office’s attitude towards me that they have ignored my request for a copy of the report and instead chose to email it to my solicitor just hours before publication.

“The report does not address the key issue, which is why Joseph was sentenced to what was in effect a death sentence.”

Special comment piece – the suicide of a young offender


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