Prisons inspector Anne Owers is right to point out the importance of social work right at the beginning of a new report on young people in custody. If there was ever any doubt, it is soon dispelled by the headline findings of the report which draw out young people’s experiences of prison from Prisons Inspectorate surveys over the last two years: nearly half the girls said they had been in care and 80 per cent of the entire sample said they had been excluded from school.
The Youth Justice Board also had a hand in the report, so it is particularly unfortunate that its funding for social work support in young offender institutions will end in March. Since the Munby judgement enforced children’s legislation in YOIs, 15 of them have acquired their own social workers. They have worked hard to improve the conditions of young people in these institutions.
It is vital that the Department for Education and Skills picks up the tab from the YJB, otherwise these achievements will be put at risk.
Funding doubts spark social worker flight from young offender units