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JUVENILE SECURE REMANDS - NEW COURT POWERS

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The government has spelled out plans to give courts powers to ...
The government has spelled out plans to give courts powers to

remand juveniles direct to local authority secure accommodation.

Answering a parliamentary question, home office minister Alun

Michael said that courts will be allowed to remand 12 to 14-year-olds

and 15 and 16-year-old girls direct to local authority secure

accommodation under proposals contained in the Crime and Disorder

Bill.

The powers will also enable courts to send 15 and 16-year-old boys

to secure accommodation instead of prison where they are judged by

the courts to be vulnerable and where a place in secure accommodation

has been identified in advance.

Before the court decides on such remands, it will be required to

consult a probation officer, a social worker or a member of a youth

offending team.

Mr Michael said:

'The government wants earlier and more effective intervention in the

first place to prevent so many young people graduating to the stage

where secure accommodation is needed.

'However, there are occasions when the courts need to remand certain

juveniles to secure accommodation for their own good and for the

public's protection. We are determined to use existing secure

accommodation and the places in secure training units sensibly to

serve the public interest.

'The government inherited the long-standing problem of 15 and

16-year-old boys being remanded to prison accommodation. We are

committed to ending this practice as soon as practicable but the

number of local authority secure places available is nowhere near

sufficient to meet the need.

'It would not be safe to change the arrangements for all 15 and

16-year-old boys at this stage and our approach represents the most

practical and humane way forward. My parliamentary answer today is a

clear statement of our position.'

A government review is currently examining how to make better use of

secure accommodation to ensure that provision is more consistent,

that regimes tackle criminality and that the educational and other

needs of young people are met.

NOTES

1. The primary purpose of local authority secure accommodation is to

accommodate any child who is being looked after by a local authority

under the Children Act 1989. In addition, local authority secure

accommodation is used to hold those who are sentenced under Section

53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 or those who are held

on secure remand.

2. The previous administration estimated that 170 new secure places

were necessary in 1991 to cater for the introduction of court-ordered

remands to local authority secure accommodation for all 12 to

16-year-olds. A building programme to provide those places will only

be completed later this year. The total number of secure places

currently available in England and Wales is 435. The number now

needed is estimated at between 690 and 710.

3. The Crime and Disorder Bill was published on 2 December 1998.

Clause 81 (5A) provides a definition of vulnerability for the

purposes of 15 and 16-year-old boys. That is a person who, in the

court's opinion, it would be undesirable to remand to a remand centre

or prison by reason of his physical or emotional immaturity or a

propensity to harm himself.

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