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
accommodation under proposals contained in the Crime and Disorder
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
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.
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.