The head of the Youth Justice Board warned of “meltdown” in the youth custody system this week as the number of children in the secure estate reached a record high.
YJB chair Rod Morgan (pictured left) said “urgent action” was needed as the number of children and young people in custody rose to 3,350 in England and Wales.
Morgan was backed by chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers, who warned the system was approaching “breaking point”.
In August, the board announced several emergency measures to tackle overcrowding , such as safe cellsharing, using out-of-commission cells and increasing the number of 18-year-olds who can be moved to adult prisons.
But the situation has worsened since then, although the board is to stick with the same measures to tackle the problem. The figure tops the previous peak of 3,175 in October 2002.
The board said the problem could only be tackled in the long term by increasing investment in prevention and parenting support programmes.
And it called on the government and courts to make better use of community sentences.