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Persistent juvenile offenders under the age of 15 are to be detained in five privately built 'approved school' type...
Persistent juvenile offenders under the age of 15 are to be detained in five privately built 'approved school' type secure units under plans to be unveiled next week by Home Secretary Kenneth Clarke, the Guardian reports (p1).

Mr Clarke, who brought forward the announcement in response to the current debate on juvenile crime, is also considering whether the network should be privately run.

Minister hope to head off criticisms of the sort that led to closure of approved schools in the 1960s by diluting the 'short, sharp shock' regime with a programme of education, training and psychological therapy.

Private sector involvement would ensure a different regime from the existing network of 30 council secure units which provide 297 places for older teenagers, the Guardian says.

The Times reports (p4) that shadow home secretary Tony Blair yesterday called on the government to build more council secure accommodation to hold persistent offenders, as Labour attempted to seize the initiative on law and order from the Tories.

Labour stressed the need for more co-ordination among all agencies to prevent youngsters starting a life of criminal behaviour, but opposed ministerial intentions to set up the new approved schools.

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