Category Archives: Children in Prison

Published today: Children in Custody 2015-16: an analysis of 12 to 18-year-olds’ perceptions

 Juv CentreNearly half of boys in young offender institutions have felt unsafe in custody at some point, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published a thematic report on the results of surveys of children in custody.

The report, Children in Custody 2015-16: an analysis of 12 to 18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experience in secure training centres and young offender institutions, commissioned by the Youth Justice Board (YJB), sets out how children describe their own experience of imprisonment. The number of children in custody fell by 53% between 2010-11 and 2015-16, made up largely by falls in the number of children held in young offender institutions (YOIs), down 59%. Over the longer term, the secure children’s estate population has fallen by 66% since 2005-06. As of April 2016, 906 children aged under 18 were held in custody across England and Wales.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has published an annual summary of survey responses in YOIs since 2001-02 and the demographics and circumstances of the boys held have changed over that period. The proportion who said they were from a black or minority ethnic background is at the highest rate recorded since 2001-02, at 47%. Those with experience of the local authority care system (37%), Muslim boys (22%), boys reporting a disability (19%) and those identifying as being from a Gypsy, Romany or Traveller background (7%) continued to be disproportionately over-represented across the YOI estate when compared with the population as a whole. When asked if they had ever felt unsafe at their establishment, 46% of boys said they had, the highest ever figure recorded through our surveys.

The report also found that in YOIs:

  • the proportion of boys with a job in their establishment had fallen significantly in the past 12 months (16% compared with 28% in 2014-15); and
  • the proportion of boys engaged in a job (16%), vocational training (11%) and offending behaviour programmes (16%) across the YOI estate was lower than in 2015-16 than at any point since 2010-11.

In April 2012, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission began joint inspections of Secure Training Centres (STCs). This report includes the fourth annual summary of children’s experience of STCs. The demographics of STCs and YOIs have some significant differences. YOIs hold only boys aged between 15 and 18. All girls aged under 18 are now held in either STCs or local authority-run Secure Children’s Homes (SCHs). STCs held a greater proportion of children under 16 than YOIs, at around a third (32%).

The report also found that in STCs:

  • the proportion who identified as being from a black or minority ethnic background was 41%;
  • the proportion who identified as Muslim was 15%;
  • the proportion who said they were from a Gypsy, Romany or Traveller background was 12%;
  • nearly a third of children (31%) report being victimised by being shouted at through windows; and
  • nearly a quarter of children (23%) reported feeling unsafe at some point since their arrival at the STC.

Peter Clarke said:

“Over the past decade the number of children in custody has fallen by some 66%, but the perceptions of those that remain leave us with some worrying and difficult issues to consider. During the inspections of young offender institutions in the past year, we found that outcomes in our test of safety were not sufficiently good in all but one YOI. Our surveys disclose that 46% of boys had at some point felt unsafe at their establishment, the highest figure we have recorded. These poor outcomes in safety are directly related to correspondingly poor outcomes in education.

“There are some particularly troubling findings in the areas of disproportionate over-representation (in terms of the characteristics of the children now being held in custody), safety, victimisation, respect and training. I hope these findings are taken seriously by those charged with developing and improving policy.”

Colin Allars, Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board, said:

“Parts of this report are uncomfortable to read – trends around safety are concerning.  We will use these findings to support our work with providers of custodial services to address the issues children and young people are telling us about.

“The YJB has a role in ensuring young people are looked after whilst in custody, and to do that effectively we must listen to their views. We commission this independent survey because its findings are important in ensuring that the voices of children and young people in custody are heard and because it helps us to monitor the services provided to them.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 15 November 2016 at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/thematic-research.htm

Children in Custody: Distance From Home – A Thematic Review.

Placing children in custody miles away from their home affected how many family visits they received, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. It didn’t, however, have a significant impact on other experiences of custody and could help some boys keep away from gang influence, he added. Today he published a report, The impact of distance… Continue Reading

Significant changes in backgrounds and needs of Children in Custody says Chief Inspector in new Thematic Review

The number of children in custody has fallen sharply, but the backgrounds and needs of those who remain have become more complex, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published a thematic report on the results of surveys of children in custody. The report, Children in Custody 2014-15: an analysis of 12-18-year-olds’ perceptions… Continue Reading

Replace child prisons with small units to cut reoffending says new report

Replacing large children’s prisons with smaller units could boost Justice Secretary Michael Gove’s attempts to reduce reoffending rates, a report suggests. Detainees in young offenders’ institutions are more likely to suffer violence and longer periods in isolation, it was claimed. Youngsters can also be locked up in secure training centres and secure children’s homes. The… Continue Reading

May to name new Chair of Child Abuse Inquiry

Theresa May is expected to announce the new chair of the troubled child abuse inquiry following the resignations of two previous holders of the post. The Home Secretary has also been considering the format of the inquiry, which could potentially involve scrapping the existing panel and replacing it with a more powerful body. The new… Continue Reading

HMYOI Werrington – Improvements made but challenges remain say Inspectors

HMYOI Werrington was working more positively with the young people it held, but still had areas to address, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the young offender institution near Stoke-on-Trent. HMYOI Werrington holds up to 160 boys under the age of 18. During the… Continue Reading

INQUEST response to the YJB Child Deaths Report

INQUEST response to Youth Justice Board report on deaths of children in custody Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said: “Whilst this report offers some insight into the Board’s learning from child deaths, it can be no substitute for a wider review. “INQUEST’s work on the deaths of children shows the same issues of concern repeat… Continue Reading

YJB Child Deaths In Custody – Lessons Learnt Report Published

The YJB’s report Deaths of Children in Custody: Action Taken, Lessons Learnt explains the actions taken by the YJB in response to recommendations made by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, coroners and Serious Case Reviews, following the deaths of children in custody since 2000. It also identifies the work that still needs to be undertaken… Continue Reading

HMYOI Wetherby Keppel Unit – High standards of care in well run facility

The Keppel Unit at HMYOI Wetherby was extremely well run and provided a model for other specialist units for young people, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the special unit at the young offender institution in West Yorkshire. HMYOI Wetherby’s Keppel Unit, which opened… Continue Reading

Children and Young People in Custody – Some Improvements, Some Concerns

CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE IN CUSTODY – SOME IMPROVEMENTS, SOME CONCERNS Most young people’s perceptions of their treatment and conditions in custody had improved but there were indications that establishments were struggling to manage some of the most challenging or vulnerable, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing two thematic reports on the results… Continue Reading

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