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Transforming Youth Custody

Volume 573: debated on Friday 17 January 2014

The Government are today publishing their response to the Transforming Youth Custody consultation, setting out its plans to put education at the heart of detention and launch the first purpose-built secure college.

Although both overall crime and proven offending by young people are down, 71% of young offenders sentenced to custody go on to reoffend within 12 months. Furthermore, youth custody is too expensive, with the average cost of a place standing at around £100,000 per annum, and education provision across the estate is inconsistent. The Transforming Youth Custody consultation set out the Government’s ambition to tackle these problems. Responses demonstrated support for the principle of youth custody achieving a sharper focus on equipping young offenders with the skills, qualifications and self-discipline they need to turn away from crime and fulfil their potential.

I am today announcing plans to introduce secure colleges, a new generation of secure educational establishments for young offenders, and to open a pathfinder secure college in the east midlands in 2017. If the pathfinder proves successful, my vision is for a network of secure colleges across England and Wales. Secure colleges will have strong educational leadership delivering a daily regime designed around education, vocational training and life skills, as well as tackling the wider causes of offending. They will replace existing expensive and inconsistent provision, raise educational attainment, reduce cost and act as a catalyst to reduce reoffending. I will shortly bring forward legislation on secure colleges.

While I introduce this new model of youth custody, I am taking important steps to improve provision for those young people currently in custody. At present 15 to 17-year-olds in young offender institutions (YOIs) receive an average of only 12 hours contracted education a week. I am today launching a competition for new education contracts in publicly-run YOIs which will seek to more than double the number of hours young offenders spend in education. In addition, the Government are taking steps to ensure that when a young offender leaves custody more effective plans are in place to support their resettlement in the community, with more going into education, training or employment and fewer going on to reoffend.

By putting education at the heart of youth custody, the Government will set young offenders on the path to becoming law-abiding, hard-working citizens, and make communities safer.

Copies of “Transforming Youth Custody: The Government’s Response to the Consultation” will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.