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Young Offenders

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 8 May 2007

In November 2005, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Fiona Mactaggart) announced the National Offender Management Service Young Adult Offenders (YAOs) Project, as part of the new approach to offender management, to consider the implications of abolishing DYOI and the regime that would need to be in place to ensure sufficient safeguards for this age group both in custody and the community.

The project has reviewed the needs of YAOs, the appropriate age range, the use of the prison estate, the regimes and interventions required in prison and in the community, and considered the implications of abolishing detention in a young offender institution (DYOI).

There has been full consultation with internal and external stakeholders. Significant representatives of voluntary and community groups have been consulted—in particular, Barrow Cadbury, the Prison Reform Trust, NACRO and Rainer. Consideration has been given to HM inspectorate's recent thematic report on young adult offenders. Future implementation will include consideration of Baroness Corston's recommendations regarding women offenders in the criminal justice system.

We have concluded that, taking account of both the constraints posed by current prison capacity and the need to undertake further work to test out an approach to young adult offenders, the time is not yet right to abolish detention in a young offender institution (DYOI).

However, we are firmly committed to further work to ensure we plan for appropriate provision to address the specific needs of 18-24 year-olds. We will progress a suite of proposals to enable us to test the best approaches both in custody and in the community by:

piloting a specification for a new regime for this age group as an integral part of the new prison capacity building arrangements;

setting up a test/pilot to consider the specification and funding required to take this “through the gate” for YAOs subject to the requirement for Section 65 supervision;

establishing a demonstrator project to explore the management of this age group in the community in Wales, and particularly to take a hard look at a focused use of mentoring and wraparound services;

regional offender managers agreeing key priorities for this age group in 2008-09, and in the medium to longer term NOMS considering developing a specification for this age group to be delivered by providers;

incorporating an adolescent development package into the offender manager training at the next review;

implementing recommended actions arising from Mubarek recommendations 16 and 17 as an integral part of future YAO policy;

ensuring that projects for offenders serving under 12 months in custody specifically include the needs of this age group, especially those subject to the Section 65 requirement of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 for supervision; and with the “Reconnect” project exploring the nature, impact and cost of mentoring, needs assessments and work plans/compacts;

through our new volunteering strategy promoting the use and evaluation of mentoring as part of the package of offender management; and

implementing an improved NOMS/YJB protocol to ensure effective transition arrangements are put in place.

I am promoting this package of proposals as they represent a positive and considered way forward that can be safely introduced given current constraints on provider services and an approach which can be built upon over time. I repeat our firm commitment to find the best approaches to the needs of this age group.

There will be a further report to the House later in the year.