§ 54. Mr. Kilroy-Silk
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further steps he proposes to take to increase the number of places in community homes so as to ensure that schoolchildren do not have to go to prison.
§ Dr. Owen
It is for local authorities, acting in accordance with the plans of children's regional planning committees, to provide additional places in community homes in order to ensure that schoolchildren do not have to go to prison. They are fully aware of this obligation, and projects providing a further 85 secure places in observation and assessment centres are now building or about to start building shortly. In addition, authorities have put forward schemes providing some 90 secure places in such centres for inclusion in the capital programme for 1976–77. I hope soon to be able to write to authorities telling them which schemes have been selected for this year's programme. A large number of the places referred to will qualify for grants under Section 71 of the Children Act 1975 and I hope that continued use of this power will encourage other schemes of this nature. A circular inviting authorities to apply for these grants was issued on 18th May.