§ Lord Peston
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What provision there is for secure accommodation for juveniles. [HL2999]
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
The Crime and Disorder Bill will provide courts with more appropriate custodial remand and sentencing powers to deal with the most serious and persistent young offenders. To complement these changes, the Government have undertaken a review of all forms of secure accommodation for young offenders and young people held on remand. The Government believe that present arrangements for the provision and management of secure accommodation are inefficient and incoherent and are in need of reform. The review of juvenile secure accommodation was completed at the end of March and the Government have decided now on a programme of further work to be undertaken, a summary of which has been placed in the Library.
The main focus of this further work involves extending the role of the new Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, expected to be in place by October this year. The Crime and Disorder Bill already provides for the Youth Justice Board to advise on the setting of standards for secure accommodation for remanded and sentenced juveniles and to monitor the delivery of those standards. The Government have decided in principle to extend this role to include the commissioning and purchasing of secure accommodation for juveniles on remand and under sentence. This additional function will enable the Youth Justice Board to provide a much-needed central focus for the delivery of high quality secure facilities for remanded and sentenced young people. Subject to the outcome of further detailed work, the Government envisage that it should be possible for the Youth Justice Board to take on the function of commissioning and purchasing secure accommodation by April 2000. This will involve making an order under Clause 42(6) of the Crime and Disorder Bill.
A priority for immediate action is to improve the standard of care and quality of regimes in accommodation currently used for those remanded and sentenced as juveniles. Ninety per cent. of these young people are held in Prison Service accommodation. The Prison Service is already working on the development of new regime standards for juveniles and is planning to pilot improved regimes in two establishments, Werrington and Huntercombe Young Offender Institutions. Proposals to help achieve greater separation of juveniles from adult prisoners are also being taken forward. This work will pave the way for the introduction of the detention and training order contained in the Crime and Disorder Bill, which will involve a programme of improved education and training to tackle offending behaviour, undertaken partly in custody and partly in the community.
The Government plan to set out their detailed proposals on the future role of the Youth Justice Board in respect of secure accommodation early next year.