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Juvenile Offenders

Volume 79: debated on Monday 20 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any proposals for increasing the funding of intermediate treatment schemes for juvenile offenders in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

member, Sir. The response to the intensive intermediate treatment programme has not so far matched the funds we have set aside. The decrease in the 1985–86 provision compared with that for 1984–85 is merely a reflection of our estimate of likely take-up grant.

Is the Minister aware that the rising rate of some types of juvenile crime in Wales is causing real concern and that statistics show that detention centres, whether by short, sharp shock or otherwise, are failing to prevent youngsters from committing crime ? Is it not high time that the Government responded to the initiative of the intermediate treatment programme and provided proper funding for a real and successful alternative to custody, through intermediate treatment ?

The Government are in favour of non-custodial treatment, as the hon. and learned Gentleman knows. To make the position absolutely clear, I must say that although we have allocated £724,000 since 1983–84 for this particular programme, only £190,000 has so far been taken up in Wales. Nevertheless, two applications worth £206,000 are being considered and we shall announce the result of our consideration shortly.

Is my hon. Friend aware that last Saturday I visited Holyhead mountain and the scheme run by the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders in the community programme, and saw the work that is being done there ? Will he welcome the addition of 100,000 new places to the community programme, as it is an excellent way of helping ex-offenders to be rehabilitated back into society and to find work, and of finding work for the long-term unemployed in general ?

I welcome the developments to which my hon. Friend referred. It is not simply the Government who are active in this area through their intermediate treatment programme and urban programme, but local authorities. I am glad that Welsh local authorities have forecast that by 1984–85 expenditure will rise to £1 million compared with £489,000, which was committed in 1982–83.

Will the Minister request local education authorities to attach community policemen to all schools so that the relationship between schoolchildren and the police can be improved ? That could also form part of the drug abuse prevention programme.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are worried about drug abuse, and a campaign is being mounted by the health and social services departments. Regarding his point about the police and schools. on both the education and police sides a great deal is being done to prevent crime.