Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Appendix to the Report



Memorandum submitted by HM Prison Service


  The tables at annex A provide a breakdown (for both males and females) of where 15 to 17 year olds and separately 18 to 20 year olds originating from Wales are held by establishment. The data contained in the tables dates from October 2000. There are no longer any under 18 year old boys held at Parc. Background notes are supplied on Ashfield Prison and young offenders institution (Annex B) and Eastwood Park Prison, young offenders institution and remand centre (Annex C).

Under 18s: Boys

  2.  Since April 2000, the Youth Justice Board has assumed responsibilty for the commissioning and purchasing of all juvenile secure accommodation, and the Prison Service is contracted by the YJB to provide an agreed number of places. The Board's remit includes advising the Government on the future provision of juvenile secure accommodation and monitoring the performance of all providers, including the operation of the new distinct estate and regime standards for juveniles within the Prison Service. In addition to the places they purchase from the Prison Service, the YJB also purchase secure accommodation from local authorities and manage the contracts of the three secure training centres. The basis of the relationship between the Prison Service and the Youth Justice Board is a strategic partnership. A partnership agreement has been signed by the Director General of the Prison Service and the Chairman of the Youth Justice Board and is the over-arching statement of how the two organisations will work together.

  3.  The Prison Service has invested £51 million to create a new, distinct estate for 15 to 17 year old boys, comprising juvenile-only establishments and juvenile units in young offender institutions. [1]For the first time, the vast majority of under 18s will be held in either dedicated under 18 establishments, or in dedicated under 18 living units within other establishments. The new regimes, linked to the operation of the Detention and Training Order, are based upon providing a "full, purposeful and active day"; rigorous assessment of each individual's health, social, educational and vocational needs; formal and specific planning and provision of education and training to meet these needs; regular reviews of each individual's plans and inter-agency co-operation and support.

  4.  Primary responsibility for placement of juveniles sentenced to the Detention and Training Order rests with Youth Offending Teams who operate against the backdrop the Youth Justice Board's priorities for the placement of young people within the under 18 secure estate. These priorities include closeness to home.

  5.  Placement of boys and 15 to 17 years of age to a young offender institution should be made to one of the 13 establishments that now comprise the new distinct estate for boys. In determining which establishment were to be included in the estate, consideration was given to the criteria of closeness to home and to court. However, there is not dedicated Prison Service provision in Wales, and the majority of boys from Wales who are sentenced to a DTO are placed in Ashfield and Stoke Heath.

  6.  The Youth Justice Board's objective is to have 90 per cent of all young people in secure facilities placed within 50 miles of home by March 2004. They anticipate that this will be achieved against the background of their commissioning strategy over the same period which will seek to rectify current regional imbalances between supply and demand. Additionally, the YJB now has a placement centre with the ability to make placement and population management decisions, in consultation with the Prison Service, to ensure the best match between home address and secure establishment in order to minimise distance.

  7.  The Prison Service understands that the YJB have identified a site for a new secure training facility in Wales and preliminary enquiries are underway. However, this process is likely to be protracted and there is no certainty about the outcome. The provision of places in Wales also forms part of the YJB's negotiations with the Prison Service for 2001-02. In wishing to help the YJB, I (Martin Narey) have offered the use of Prescoed young offender establishment for under eighteens. Situated near Usk, it has a healthy tradition in the care of young offenders but would require a significant investment before it could be used to house in conditions of acceptable security, under eighteens. Its present role is the care of the minority of offenders aged 18-20 who can be trusted in conditions of minimal security.

Under 18s: Girls

  8.  The position is slightly different for young women, where, because the numbers are so small, it has not proven to be viable to create a distinct female estate. Instead, the Government has decided that 15 and 16 year old young women should be held in non-Prison Service accommodation, and sentenced 17 year olds will also be removed from the prison system when there are sufficient places outside.

18-20 Year Olds

  9.  The regime a young adult offender over 18 years of age receives will vary depending upon the particular establishment in which he is held. In addition to any educational and training activities he might enjoy, he may also have access to other programmes, for example, the Prison Service's Welfare to Work programme run at twelve establishments for young adult offenders.

  10.  The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 contains provision to abolish the sentence of detention in a Young Offender Institution (DYOI). After abolition those aged 18-20 will be sentenced as adults, with those receiving a custodial sentence being sentenced to imprisonment. This means that 18-20s will be able to be sent to adult prisons and have access to a wider range of regimes. However, Ministers have made it clear that the sentence of DYOI will not be abolished until appropriate arrangements are in place to take account of the needs of young adult offenders, in the form of a Prison Service Order. When a young offender at an English young offender institution reaches the age of 21, arrangements will normally be made to move them to Cardiff, Parc of Swansea.


  11.  Young offenders (males and females aged between 18 and 20) originating from Wales are held on average 50 miles from home. In comparison young offenders originating from England are held on average 54 miles from home. Young offenders from the south west are held on average 63 miles from home.

  12.  Juveniles (males and females aged under 18) originating from Wales are held on average 68 miles from home with juveniles originating from England being held on average 55 miles from home.

  13.  This analysis has been prepared using the April 2001 closeness to home data extract. In order to calculate closeness to home distances and establish a prisoner's origin the prisoner's committal court town is used as a proxy for town of origin. Evidence suggests that in 80 per cent of cases these towns are the same. At the margin it is likely that some Welsh prisoners who were committed to trial in England are not included. Similarly some English prisoners committed for trial in Wales will be included in the analysis.

  14.  At the end of February 2001 there were 446 prisoners who were aged under 21 and had been committed to trial at a court in Wales. Of these there were 433 males and 13 females. Type of custody:

    Remand = 116 (of which:)

      Untried = 74

      Convicted unsentenced = 42

    Sentenced = 329

    Fine defaulter = 1

  The age breakdown for males and females is given below:
AgeMales Females

  A breakdown by type of offence and sentence length for the 329 sentenced prisoners is given in the following table:
<1m 1-3m3-6m 6-12m12m 12-18m18m-3yrs 3-4yrs4yrs 4-5yrs5-10yrs 10yrs-lifeLife Total
Murder 2 2
Manslaughter 1 1
Other homicide and att homicide 1 12 1 2 1 8
Wounding 19 42 38 31 45 11 42
Assaults 1 1 2
Other offences of VATP 2 1 1 15
Rape 1 1 2
Other sexual offences 1 1 2
Burglary 27 58 1729 73 11 80
Robbery 1 35 206 74 2 149
Taking and driving away 5 67 18 27
Other thefts 36 55 25 2 28
Handling stolen goods 7 7
Frauds 1 1
Forgery 1 1
Drug offences 1 11 4 1 8
Arson 1 1 1 3
Criminal damage 1 11 1 4
In charge or driving drink/drugs 1 4 5
Other motoring offences 7 182 2 3 32
Affray 1 11 1 4
Violent disorder 1 11 3
Threat/disorderly behaviour 1 1 2
Breach of court order 14 5
Other criminal offences 2 1 1 4
Total2 1568 3035 3284 1913 1112 24 0


  15.  The impact on families of Welsh young offenders being placed in England is, by and large, very comparable to the effect on English families when prisoners are located away from home.The most obvious effect is the need, in some cases, for families to travel long distances to visit. This is obviously compounded by the additional effect of having to travel to what many Welsh families would regard as another country, particularly those who primarily speak Welsh, and the actual speaking of Welsh during a visit may either be restricted (the governor can require, for security purposes, prisoners and visitors of any nationality to speak in English, if they are able to do so) or require the presence of an interpreter, so that the visit can be satisfactorily monitored.

  16.  The Prison Service recognises the importance of maintaining family ties, and wherever possible prisoners are located close to their home and family. However, population pressures, appropriate security and medical requirements and the attitudes and behaviour of offenders all determine the likelihood of being able to arrange desired transfers. Sometimes offenders may unavoidably be located in an establishment that is some distance from their home area. In addition to having an obligation to help prisoners/young offenders to maintain their family ties, any failings in this respect impact on the family's ability to support the prisoner through the sentence and assist his or her effective rehabilitation. This support is obviously particularly important for young offenders.


  17.  The Prison Service continues to address the general problems relating to prisoners being placed at long distances from home with the provision of assistance with travel costs, through the Assisted Prison Visits Unit, for families with financial difficulties, and the arrangement of temporary transfers for prisoners to establishments closer to home so that they can take a series of accumulated visits. An increasing number of establishments provide extended and all-day visits for families.


  18.  The provision for Welsh speaking young people is aimed to match the needs identified locally in prison establishments subject to the availability of resources. The four Prisoner Information Books published in 1999—Male Prisoners and Young Offenders, Women Prisoners and Female Young Offenders, Visiting and Keeping in Touch, and Life Sentenced Prisoners —are available translated into 21 languages including Welsh. Further language translation, if required, can be provided by Language Line (24 hour telephone service available to all prisons) or via the Immigration Service Directory of Interpreters distributed to all establishments.

  19.  Each prison establishment is required to have a local public authority librarian working to a joint service level agreement which should be able to meet the information, cultural and appropriate recreational needs of prison communities. Further resources may be provided through local education services contracts. There are a variety of items that may be sent or brought into prison—sometimes prior arrangement is required by friends, family, and other visitors that can assist in maintaining links with the outside world.

Martin Narey

Director General

26 April 2001

1   Ashfield; Brinsford; Castington; Feltham; Hollesley Bay; Huntercombe; Lancaster Farms; Onley; Portland; Stoke Heath; Thorn Cross; Werrington; and Wetherby. Back

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