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Children and young people in custody

Children and young people in custody: Managing the risk

Maggie Blyth
Robert Newman
Chris Wright
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  • Book Info
    Children and young people in custody
    Book Description:

    Over the last decade, the reformed youth justice system has seen increases in the numbers of children and young people in custody, a sharp rise in indeterminate sentences and the continuing deaths of young prisoners. The largest proportion of funding in youth justice at national level is spent on providing places for children and young people remanded and sentenced to custody. The publication of the Youth Crime Action Plan during 2008 and the increasing emphasis on early intervention provides a framework to consider again the interface between local services and secure residential placements. This report brings together contributions from leading experts on young people and criminal justice to critically examine current policy and practice. There are vital questions for both policy and practice on whether the use of custody reduces re-offending or whether other forms of residential placements are more effective long-term. The report looks at current approaches to the sentencing and custody of children and young people, prevention of re-offending and a range of alternative regimes.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-262-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
    (pp. v-v)
    Joyce Moseley

    I welcome this collection of essays on young people and the use of custody. For those, like me, who have spent most of their careers delivering services to children and young people in need, listening to them and their families, and also hearing the views and experiences of victims of crime (many of whom are children and young people themselves), there can be few more challenging subjects.

    Over the past 10 years there has been a renewed focus on youth justice, with the establishment of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) in 1998 of which I was...

  2. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Maggie Blyth, Robert Newman and Chris Wright

    The number of children in custody in England and Wales has risen in recent years and is now the highest in Western Europe (Council of Europe, 2004). In July 2008, when this volume was completed, the numbers of young people held in the secure estate stood at 3,006 (YJB, 2008a). Overall, the rise in imprisonment is due to courts adopting a more punitive approach, locking up proportionately more children and for longer (Solomon and Garside, 2008). Both the public and media have driven the political agenda, reinforcing messages that youth crime, in particular, knife and gun crime, is out of...

  3. 1 Children in custody
    (pp. 9-22)
    Rod Morgan

    In 2000 the Youth Justice Board (YJB), created by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, sought and was given responsibility for commissioning and purchasing all custodial places in England and Wales required for children and youths by the criminal courts by virtue of their remand and sentencing decisions. The Board took on provision for what is proportionately the largest population of children in penal custody in Western Europe. It was arguably a poisoned chalice. This chapter will consider three questions. What, over the past decade, has been the trend regarding use of custody for children and youths and who are...

  4. 2 Types of secure establishment
    (pp. 23-34)
    Jim Rose

    While it is undoubtedly true that too many young people are in custody at any one time, for reasons that they present a ‘danger to self or others’, the use of secure accommodation is part of youth justice policy and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. If this is the case then there are decisions to make about what this should mean in terms of the circumstances in which young people are locked up and what kind of experiences are provided for them in the establishments where they serve their sentences. This chapter attempts to look ‘under...

  5. 3 The cost of custody: whose responsibility?
    (pp. 35-44)
    Rob Allen

    Around the corner from the Home Office, in the wall of a building now occupied by the Royal College of Vets, is a foundation stone for Mr Fegan’s homes. The House of Mercy was founded in the early part of the last century ‘for the welfare of orphans, needy and erring boys’. Since then, erring boys (and girls) have increasingly been dealt with separately from those classed as needy – notwithstanding the fact that, in many cases, individual children fall into both categories.

    The government changes of 2007, which restored to the department responsible for children’s welfare a share in...

  6. 4 Sentencing young people
    (pp. 45-54)
    Kerry Baker

    With those that like using custody, you can legislate till kingdom come and it wouldn’t make any difference. (Parker et al, 1989, p 118)

    The rise in the number of young people in custody in England and Wales is well documented (Bateman, 2005; Morgan and Newburn, 2007)¹ and it is also recognised that trends in sentencing are one of the key determinants of the custodial population (YJB, 2005). In considering the sentencing of young people there are three key areas of concern, namely: the level of custodial sentencing; the length and nature of custodial sentences (in particular, the new ‘public...

  7. 5 Child deaths in the juvenile secure estate
    (pp. 55-68)
    Barry Goldson and Deborah Coles

    This chapter engages with one of the most controversial issues in contemporary youth justice: child deaths in custodial institutions. The chapter maps recent trends in child imprisonment in England and Wales and reviews what is known about the biographies of child prisoners, together with the treatment and conditions that they experience within the juvenile secure estate. It presents an overview of ‘safer custody’ reforms and their limitations alongside a critical assessment of the investigation and inquest processes that typically follow child deaths in penal custody. We argue that knowledge of child deaths in the juvenile secure estate is conventionally fragmented...

  8. 6 Sentenced to education: the case for a ‘hybrid’ custodial sentence
    (pp. 69-82)
    Maggie Blyth and Robert Newman

    For many practitioners and policy makers embracing the youth justice reforms in 1998, the potential for integrating education into offending behaviour work through the new Detention and Training Order (DTO) introduced by the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act was greatly welcomed. Nearly all of the young people who have received a custodial sentence since 2000 have had DTOs that require the first half of the sentence to be served in custody and the last half in the community imposed by the courts. The minimum length for DTOs is four months and the maximum is two years. Young people on DTOs...

  9. 7 Young people and parole: risk aware or risk averse?
    (pp. 83-96)
    Hazel Kemshall

    The United Kingdom currently has one of the highest juvenile prison populations in Western Europe (Goldson, 2005). This is against a backdrop of falling crime rates but heightened public, media and political perceptions to the contrary (Pitts, 2000, 2003; Tonry, 2004). The Commissioner for Human Rights noted that ‘juvenile trouble-makers’ in the UK were ‘too rapidly drawn into the criminal justice system and young offenders are too readily placed in detention’ (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 1995; Council of Europe Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, 2005: 27). As Goldson (1999; see Goldson and Coles in...

  10. 8 Ten years on: conclusions
    (pp. 97-104)
    Robert Newman and Maggie Blyth

    The contributions in this volume raise important policy questions with respect to three overlapping areas outlined in the Introduction: the suitability of the current custodial system for children and young people; the scope for more effective resettlement opportunties; and an examination of where accountability should reside for children and young people sent to custody. It is to this latter point that we now turn in our conclusions.

    Any analysis of custodial provision for children and young people is likely to be somewhat critical and bleak in outlook. The sentencing of a young person to custody is, by its very nature,...