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Ashfield Young Offenders Institution

Volume 401: debated on Thursday 20 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what estimate he has made of the cost of raising the standards of Ashfield YOI to meet the requirements of PSO4950; and if he will make a statement; [103155](2) what offending behaviour programmes are available to prisoners at Ashfield YOI; and if he will make a statement; [103163](3) what the capacity of Ashfield Young Offenders Institution is; and how many

(a) young offenders and (b) juveniles are held there; [103156]

(4) what the timetable is for removing juveniles from Ashfield YOI; [103161]

(5) what plans he has to ensure that a resettlement strategy based upon the needs of juveniles and young offenders is put in place at (a) Ashfield Young Offenders Institution and (b) other YOIs, as recommended in the recent inspection report into Ashfield YOI; [103162]

(6) what special arrangements are in place to accommodate juveniles who have been or will be transferred out of Ashfield YOI following the recent inspection report; [103154]

(7) how many juveniles have been transferred out of Ashfield YOI following the recent inspection report; and to which institutions they were transferred; [103153]

(8) what action he is taking to ensure that the levels of purposeful activity at Ashfield YOI meet the minimum levels specified by the Youth Justice Board and Prison Service Order 4950; [103158]

(9) whether a time-tabled action plan has been put in place to fulfil the recommendations of the recent inspectorate report into Ashfield YOI; and if he will make a statement; [103160]

(10) what plans he has to ensure that (a) a written drug strategy and (b) a drug strategy group are put in place at (i) Ashfield Young Offenders Institution and (b) other YOIs which do not have them; [103164]

(11) what action he has taken following the inspection report into Ashfield YOI to ensure that (a) there are adequate staffing levels, (b) reception staff are trained

in suicide prevention measures, (c) cells are allocated on the basis of risk assessments and (d) an anti-bullying strategy is in place. [103165]

The authorised operational capacity of Ashfield young offender institution is 400 (303 juveniles (15 to 17 years' of age) and 97 over 18-year-olds). It is currently operating within a reduced capacity of 212 places. On the night of 16–17 March 2003, there were 192 juveniles. There are no prisoners over 18-years-old at the institution. The Youth Justice Board (YJB) has not yet specifically transferred any prisoner out of Ashfield and is seeking alternative accommodation within the Prison Service with the view to fully withdrawing from Ashfield during 2003–04.An agreed timetabled action plan has been put in place in response to the recommendations of the recent report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons on Ashfield. Some points from this action plan come into effect in April 2003 and monitoring of the plan will then start.Offending behaviour programmes available to young people at Ashfield include: anger management; prevention of car crime; and Motivating Offenders to Rethink Everything (MORE). A new programme, Strength and Survival (SAS), is due to start in April. This programme focuses on confidence building and assertiveness for offenders.Staffing levels at Ashfield are now up to complement and are adequate. Stringent monitoring arrangements are in place to ensure the contractor maintains these levels. Additional new staff are being recruited and trained, and experienced staff from other establishments are offering support. Reception staff are trained in suicide prevention measures and this is a core part of the initial training for all new custody officers.Cells are allocated on the basis of risk assessments. Once allocated, the status of young people in both shared and single cells is reviewed regularly. There is an anti-bullying strategy in place at Ashfield. The strategy was audited by a team from the Area Office for juveniles in February 2003 and was judged to be compliant with national standards.Purposeful activity levels are carefully monitored and will continue to be monitored. The delivery of purposeful activity has improved significantly in recent months, resulting in an average of 34 hours per week delivery since January 2003. The YJB specifies 30 hours per week. The appropriate contractual action will be taken should levels fall below 30 hours per week.Ashfield has a written drug strategy in place which is monitored by the establishment's drug strategy group. Ashfield has also received a substantial amount of funding to enable them to increase their delivery of drug/substance misuse intervention programmes through an enhanced Counselling, Assessment, Referral, Advice and Throughcare (CARAT) service. All juvenile establishments have a written drug policy. The juvenile drug strategy is being reviewed by the Prison Service and the YJB and will result in the implementation of a new substance misuse strategy for young people. No cost has been incurred by the Prison Service in raising standards at Ashfield to meet the requirements of PS04950.

Ashfield has a resettlement strategy in place, and is carrying out a needs analysis of the resettlement needs of the young people in order to better support resettlement. However, securing appropriate accommodation on release is proving difficult. The Detention and Training Order is served both in custody and the community. Multi-agency Youth Offending Teams have been established and work with young people in custody and on release.

The YJB is supporting a number of resettlement pilot programmes in the juvenile estate in order to evaluate the most effective way of ensuring young people's resettlement needs are met.