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Young Offender Institutions

Volume 535: debated on Tuesday 8 November 2011

2. What steps he is taking to ensure the provision of adequate legal advice in young offender institutions. (78952)

The training requirement to carry out the Prison Service order requiring legal services officers to be available in every prison, including young offender institutions, could not be delivered. In future, governors will be required to give prisoners information on how to access legal advice as part of their induction into custody. The Prison Service order will be promulgated before the end of the year. Juvenile offender institutions have discrete advocacy services available for prisoners under 18 years old.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Last year a study of 25 young offender institutions and 300 requests for legal help from young people showed that 80% of those struggling to access legal advice were from a black and ethnic minority background, and 9% were female, which is disproportionate when compared with the general population. What plan do the Government have to tackle that?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing that to my attention. We will examine the new arrangements for induction into custody and the advocacy services available to make sure that any suggested discrimination that is happening will not be allowed to recur.

Will the Minister agree to meet me and other interested groups to discuss the issue? The only way to combat the high level of discrimination is to be able to discuss it with those concerned.