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Colchester Young Offender Institution

Volume 571: debated on Wednesday 17 April 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether progress has been made with their plans for a second demanding new regime for young offenders.

My honourable friend announced today that we have decided to establish a new young offender institution on a site at the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) at Colchester.Colchester Young Offender Institution will begin taking its first prisoners this autumn, building to a maximum population of 32 young men aged between 18 and 21. The purpose of this initiative is to test the effectiveness of a regime similar to that followed by military detainees in improving the attitude and behaviour of young offenders and in reducing the level of their re-offending after release. Young offenders will be sent to Colchester having been assessed as suitable for the regime and condition there. They will not be volunteers. Their day will be long and active, beginning with reveille at 6 a.m. and ending with lights out at 10 p.m. They will experience a combination of discipline, education and training reflecting the military ethos of the MCTC.Colchester Young Offender Institution will operate under the Young Offender Institution Rules and Prison Service policy. It will be run by staff from the Prison Service and by military staff appointed as prison officers. The military commandant of the MCTC will be appointed as the governor and he will have as his deputy an experienced Prison Service governor grade. Military staff appointed to the young offender institution will be thoroughly trained. Young offenders' progress will be monitored while at Colchester and afterwards. The results will be compared with those from a group of similar young offenders from a normal young offender institution.This is the second of two tough, disciplined and demanding new regimes for young offenders. The first is the High Intensity training programme at Thorn Cross Young Offender Institution which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced last year and which will take its first inmates in the summer.Together these initiatives represent a serious and determined attempt by Her Majesty's Government to find a way to break the cycle of re-offending among persistent young offenders.