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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

November 5, 2004: Harsh Reality For Young People In Prison

A new report criticises the government for neglecting young people in custody. The report, entitled A Lost Generation, is published by Community Care magazine and the Prison Reform Trust (PRT). Inadequate rehabilitation services and the frequent movement of young adults around the prison estate is leading to nearly three quarters (71%) being reconvicted within two years of release.

The report says that government inaction is in danger of condemning these young people to a ‘life of crime’. It notes the government’s failure to uphold its 2001 manifesto pledge to improve the standard of custodial accommodation and offending behaviour programmes for 18-20 year old offenders, the peak age for offending. Many young prisoners spend up to 20 hours locked in shared cells designed only for one person, forcing them to use the toilet in front of their cellmate and eat their meals in the same cramped, unhygienic conditions.

Over-crowding in prisons is leading to the frequent movement of young people from one jail to another, sometimes over great distances. This causes distress and instability as well as disruption to educational and training courses vital for young people’s rehabilitation. Family ties are consequently being broken – yet the Home Office has recognised that family support prevents re-offending. Two thirds of young people surveyed said that being moved to another prison had made it more difficult to keep in touch with their families.

On October 8, 2004 there were 8,152 prisoners aged 18-20 in England and Wales, 11 percent of the total prison population. Each year some 15,000 young adults are sent to prison. In the last ten years the number of sentenced young women imprisoned has more than trebled. The minority ethnic population, particularly young black men, are over-represented in the young adult prison population.  Commission for Racial Equality research demonstrates that in 2002 there were more African Caribbean entrants to prison (over 11,500) than there were to UK universities (around 8,000). Young people in prison have much higher incidences of poor basic skills, unemployment, mental health and drug and alcohol problems. A quarter have terminated their education early and up to 40 percent have been in local authority care.

The report which draws on interviews with young adults and information from Independent Monitoring Boards, also found that:

  • Lack of investment means that very few programmes are tailored to the young person’s specific needs. Currently only six establishments holding young people provide an average of 30 hours of purposeful activity each week, meaning most young prisoners are spending long hours locked in their cells with nothing to do.
  •  The majority of young people are sentenced to less than 6 months in custody. The short prison sentence can result in loss of accommodation, employment and family ties.
  • Despite pockets of good practice, young people are not being adequately supported to finding housing and either employment, education or training on release.

The report supports the aims of Community Care’s Back on Track campaign, which highlights the failures of the current prison system and calls for improved conditions to prevent the growing epidemic of suicide and self-harm, whilst urging the Government to conduct public inquiries into the death of every child or young person held in prison.

The report calls for a complete review of provision, proper planning, a substantive increase in resources and the appointment of a director for the young adult estate. It recommends developing effective community penalties for 18-20 year olds, strengthening court diversion and liaison for the mentally ill and creating smaller custodial units for those comparatively few young people who need to be detained which:

  • Are safe, close to home and have an emphasis on continuity of care
  • Are in the community with close links to statutory and voluntary services
  • Include resettlement plans, age-appropriate regimes and the active involvement of young people

Report author Enver Solomon, Senior Policy Officer at the PRT said:

“Young adults in prison should be a high priority for government. They are a prolific offending group who have a strong likelihood of becoming long term adult offenders. Their time in custody is critical if they are to be turned away from a life of crime. Yet this report has shown that they have been so neglected they have effectively become a lost generation within the prison system. It is not surprising that nearly three quarters of young adults are reconvicted within two years of release from jail.