In the current financial year, the average cost of a place in a young offender institution is £65,000 a year; the average cost of a place in a secure training centre is £178,000 a year, and the average cost of a place in a secure children’s home is £212,000 a year.
East Garforth primary school in my constituency has recently shown me the benefits of play therapy and early intervention at key stage 1. Has my hon. Friend’s Department, in conjunction with the Department for Education, made any assessments of their own as to the benefits of this early intervention as a tool to reduce youth offending?
I am not aware of any specific research on that particular programme. However, what I can say is that I agree entirely with my hon. Friend that early intervention is crucial, and, as I said a moment ago, it is important that we work across Government with the Education Department and others to ensure that that happens. That is a good way of ensuring that we prevent young people from entering the criminal justice system in the first place, which is clearly preferable than trying to deal with them when they are there.
One way to reduce the cost of putting children in prison is to ensure that care leavers have proper support. Some care leavers see crime as the only way to survive, so what discussions has the Minister had with ministerial colleagues in other Departments to ensure that children do not return to crime when they leave care?
The hon. Gentleman is right to focus on care leavers. He may be aware, if he has had a chance to look at the matter, that the Select Committee on Justice report contains a section on the criminalisation of those who are in care and on what is fairly described in many cases as an over-reaction to incidents that would not have resulted in the intervention of criminal justice agencies had they happened outside the care system. As I said, that is something that we will want to look at more carefully and respond to properly.