Skip to main content

Young Offenders

Volume 930: debated on Friday 29 April 1977

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will state for the calendar years 1974, 1975, 1976 and to the nearest convenient date in 1977, how many young persons have been held in prisons under the authority of transfer directions made by him under the Northern Ireland (Young Persons) Act 1974; and on what offences the young persons were held.

The information is as follows:the young persons in prisons under the authority of transfer directions made were subsequently found guilty of the offences for which they were charged; what sentences were imposed upon them; and whether any charges were withdrawn and a lesser offence substituted.

Twenty persons have been found guilty, and were sentenced as follows:

Detention under Section 73 of the Children and Young Persons Act (NI) 1968
During the pleasure of the Secretary of State3
For 14 years1
For 12 years1
For 8 years1
For 7 years2
For 5 years3
For 3 years3
For 2 years1
Imprisonment (having attained 17 years before trial)
For 12 years2
For 12 years (suspended for 3 years)1
Borstal training2
Of the remaining 22 persons who have been the subject of transfer directions, 20 have yet to come to trial—five have been granted bail: one of these absconded on 30th December 1974—and two have been acquitted.In none of these cases have any charges been withdrawn and a lesser offence substituted.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many young persons held in prisons in Northern Ireland under transfer directions made by him were in prison for periods of longer than six months before their case came before trial; why it was not possible to complete their cases within a six-month period; and whether he will give an undertaking that all young persons held under such circumstances will have their cases brought to trial within six months.

Four young persons were held in prison under transfer directions for periods longer than six months. In one case—eight months—police inquiries were protracted because of the complexity of the case. In two others—seven months 25 days and seven months four days—they were being jointly charged with adults and earlier hearings were not possible. In the fourth case—six months 25 days—it proved impossible to com- plete the normal processes in any shorter period.The direction of prosecutions is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions acting under the Attorney-General and, therefore, it is not possible to guarantee that cases of this kind will all be completed within a six-months limit. Under arrangements made in 1974 the Northern Ireland Office maintains close liaison with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the police to ensure all possible priority for these cases, and my noble Friend the Minister of State has instructed that these arrangements should continue.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what provision is made for the education of young persons while they are held in prisons under transfer directions made by him; what various levels of instruction are given; and how many continue their education on transfer to other prisons on being found guilty.

Young persons in respect of whom transfer directions have been made under the 1974 Act are accommodated in the Juvenile Remand Unit at Her Majesty's Prison, Belfast, or, in the case of females, at Her Majesty's Prison Armagh. On arrival each young person is interviewed ad assesed by the prison education officer, who draws up a programme of education based on the individual's needs and aspirations. Whole and part-time specialist teachers are available to provide for all levels of intellectual and academic abilities. After sentence, a full range of educational facilities is available to all inmates of prisons and borstals; full-time education is compulsory for all young persons under the statutory schoool leaving age.