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reducing the number of first time entrants to the youth justice system; reducing reoffending; and reducing custody numbers.

Custody population for children and young people

Source: Ministry of Justice - 2013

The Young Offenders - Wikipedia
In March 2008, the Joint Committee on Human Rights published a report into the use of restraint in Young Offender Institutions, Secure Training Centres and secure children's homes, which contained 33 conclusions and recommendations for action by the Government and the Youth Justice Board.

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The Government subsequently established an independent review into the use of restraint in juvenile secure settings. The review, which reported back in December 2008, made 58 recommendations.

 

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Following the inquests into the tragic deaths of Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood in 2004, the coroners recommended a review of the use of restraint in juvenile custody. Gareth died whilst being restrained; Adam took his own life after being restrained.


However, in 2001 Sir David singled out Swinfen Hall Young Offender Institution in Staffordshire as an example to other institutions; a place "in which the needs as well as the characteristics of young, adolescent prisoners, are understood and catered for."


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The former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Sir David Ramsbotham, condemned Feltham Young Offender Institution as "one of the worst" prisons in the system, with "Dickensian" conditions, racism and violence. The Prison Service was accused of "a shocking catalogue of failure" over the killing of Asian teenager Zahid Mubarek by a racist cellmate at Feltham.

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Critics of YOIs argue that imprisonment is inappropriate for young people. The majority of those in Young Offender Institutions have complex educational, social and often mental health needs, which critics say are often not addressed. Lack of resources and intimidating atmospheres are said to hamper rehabilitation work. Indeed, some critics argue that the effect of incarceration has the opposite effect: with little to occupy them and in the company of other offenders, detainees may be put on the road to a life of crime.

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The report stated: "Whilst on occasion restraint is essential to ensure the safety of young people or staff, it places all concerned at risk." And warned: "We learned very early on in the review that there is no such thing as 'entirely safe' restraint. Restraint is intrinsically unsafe. Even where it does not end in physical injury the experience and the memory can be profoundly damaging psychologically."

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Young Offender Institution's have historically been the target of criticism from both the public and Government. Problems at YOIs have included suicides, bullying and unsafe conditions for prisoners. YOIs and juvenile establishments have the highest assault rates of any prisons in England and Wales.

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Youth justice services would in future be locally determined and driven; they would maximise value for money, be publicly accountable through a Minister, and be lighter-touch. Underperforming Youth Offending Teams would be targeted, freeing up the best performing teams to provide greater opportunity to innovate.