The number of children entering the youth justice system has fallen by 81% in the last decade and the number of children on the secure estate has fallen by about three quarters. We are, however, developing a more specialised workforce focused on rehabilitation, because we accept that that is how to help these young people to move away from a life of crime. Every prison officer on the youth estate is now funded to take up a qualification in youth justice by next year. We have also created specialist youth justice worker officers, who are trained to work with children, and we already have 284 in post.
I hope that the Minister has been talking to her colleague the Housing Minister about his plans to regulate supported housing, which were announced last week and which we very much welcome. Will she now talk to him about the need to ensure that if 16 and 17-year-olds are released from custody and it is not appropriate for them to go back to their family home, they are not placed in unregulated housing?
Very much so. As I said in answer to previous questions, home is a vital part of rehabilitation and cutting reoffending. We know about some of the particular pressures that young people can face if, for example, they have been drawn into county lines gangs, and the geographical location of their home may be a pertinent element in their reoffending or their vulnerability to reoffending. I am happy to confirm that I will be speaking to the Housing Minister. I am also drawing together a cross-Whitehall group of Ministers to discuss how we can tackle youth offending at the earliest stages, not just when a child reaches the justice system.