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Young Offenders

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are made by youth offending teams to escort juvenile prisoners home on release from prison. [144367]

Paul Goggins: Arrangements for escorting juveniles home on release are made on a case-by-case basis, usually at the final review meeting at the end of the period in custody. The preferred arrangement is for a parent, relation or other carer to meet the young person and take him or her home. Where this is not possible—for example, where alternative accommodation has been arranged—a youth offending team worker will usually accompany the young person.

In reaching decisions the age and assessed vulnerability of the young person is always taken into account.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his plans to provide drug treatment for young offenders addicted to drugs in (a) the north west and (b) Lancashire. [149965]

Caroline Flint: To ensure that effective treatment is available when it is needed, we have made significant investments in the youth justice system and drug treatment sector throughout the United Kingdom with the north west and Lancashire among those areas benefiting.

Sustained investment in young peoples drug treatment, means that by March 2004 95 per cent. of all drug action teams (DATs) will provide a minimum of six different types of treatment interventions, which meet a tough set of young peoples focused quality standards. The interventions include restricted and Tier 3 services.

In addition, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) is providing £8.5million funding each year to give all 155 youth offending teams across England and Wales access to an allocated named drugs worker. The drugs worker is able to assess the needs of young people and ensure that they receive appropriate treatment or other interventions. This project is currently being evaluated by the Home Office.

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An arrest referral scheme for young people is currently being piloted, to get young offenders into treatment or other appropriate interventions as early as possible. £6 million is being invested to pilot arrest referral for young people in 10 high crime areas across England including Liverpool and Manchester. Trained staff in the police custody suites identify if young people have a substance misuse issue and refer them to appropriate treatment or intervention.

Youth Justice System

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the use of deprivation of liberty in the youth justice system. [145172]

Paul Goggins: Young offenders should be deprived of their liberty only as a last resort. Courts considering a custodial sentence must be satisfied that the offending behaviour is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified or, in the case of a violent or sexual offence, that such a sentence is needed to protect the public from serious harm. The only other situation where custody can be given is where the young offender refuses to co-operate with the requirements of a supervision order or a drug treatment and testing order. The court must also explain in open court its reasons for giving custody.

There is a further requirement where the court is considering making a Detention and Training Order on an offender below the age of 15: the court must additionally be satisfied that the young person is a persistent offender. (The Detention and Training Order is the standard order for offenders under 18 who are sentenced to custody).

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ensure that the principle of non-discrimination is fully implemented within the youth justice system. [145174]

Paul Goggins: In 2004–05, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) for England and Wales will have a new diversity target. The precise form of words is still to be agreed but the aim will be to ensure that local youth offending

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teams in England and Wales have measures in place to tackle differential outcomes for different ethnic groups within the youth justice system.

To support this target, the YJB are working with the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders to help youth offending teams to produce action plans. This work will be informed by research commissioned by the YJB from Oxford University looking at the experiences of young black people in the youth justice system. This research is due to be published early in 2004.

Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) secure children's home places and (b) places for children in prison were available in (i) 1997 and (ii) 2003; and if he will make a statement. [145213]

Paul Goggins: In April 2000, the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) assumed responsibility for commissioning and purchasing secure accommodation for juveniles from the prison service, private sector, and local authority secure children's homes, and for setting and monitoring standards. Before then, there was no separate juvenile secure estate.

Information is available on places in secure children's homes (see table) though not all would be used for young people in the criminal justice system. There were no designated places in 1997 for juveniles in prison service accommodation. For 2003–04, 3,066 places have been designated as being available for 15 to

17-year-olds in Young Offender Institutions—Young people below the age of 15 are not held in prison service accommodation.

In 2003, in addition to the above, 194 places in England and Wales are available in Secure Training Centres (STCs). No STCs were in operation in 1997.

Places approved at local authority secure children's homes in 1997 and 2003 were as follows:

As at 31 March
19972003
England330425
Wales2020
England and Wales350445