Anne Owers slams lack of support for children on indefinite terms

Vulnerable children held in custody on indeterminate sentences are not being given the vital support they need to obtain release, according to a damning report by the prisons and probation inspectorates.

The criticism follows a review of the use of indeterminate detention for public protection sentences (IPP) for adults and detention for public protection sentences (DPP) for children under 18 carried out by the inspectorates last year. The resulting report, published today, is highly critical of the lack of support given to often very vulnerable prisoners.

Indeterminate sentences are given to offenders found guilty of a violent or sexual crime and who are deemed to pose a risk to the public. Release can only be secured on the recommendation of the Parole Board.

YJB and Yots “inadequately prepared”

But the watchdogs said that the Youth Justice Board, prisons and youth offending teams were “inadequately prepared” to deal with under-18s who were being held for long periods and had complex psychological needs and vulnerabilities. Inspectors found “deficiencies” in pre-sentence reports prepared by Yots and disagreed with the risk classification in six of 10 cases put under scrutiny. In five cases, inspectors felt the offender’s risk rating was too high.

It was also found that around 60% of those sentenced to DPPs had some sort of vulnerability, including mental health problems, conduct disorder or substance misuse.

Anne Owers, chief inspector of prisons, said: “This report should be required reading for all those within the criminal justice system, but particularly those who propose and put in place new sentences or are responsible for implementing them.  It is a worked example of how not to do so.”

Related articles

Young people spending too long in custody, says study
Prison Reform Trust attacks indeterminate sentences


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