The Prison Reform Trust today launches a £1.5m five-year strategy to reduce child and youth imprisonment in the UK.
The work will be funded by The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and will include an independent inquiry into the treatment of young prisoners and their families, which the trust says will produce compelling evidence and clear recommendations for change.
It also plans to review the range and effectiveness of alternatives to custody, examine new ways of cutting youth crime, look into how young people with mental health problems can be diverted away from the criminal justice system and assess the social and economic costs of imprisonment and its alternatives.
Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon said: “By ploughing on with punitive policies and an over-reliance on imprisonment, all we are doing is damaging and excluding still further a generation of young people already existing at the margins of society.”
The programme will also examine international experience of alternatives to custody, given figures showing that the UK locks up 23 children per 100,000, compared to six in France and two in Spain.