SCYJ responds to the Government’s plans to “reform youth custody”

Responding to the government’s announcement on changes to the youth custodial estate (17 January), Penelope Gibbs, Chair of the Standing Committee for Youth Justice, said:

“The children who are locked up in our prisons have a range of very serious needs including mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, histories of abuse, trauma and violence. Simply focusing on education is misguided and will not address the underlying causes behind their offending that need to be tackled if children are to be turned away from a life of crime. A more holistic therapeutic model is needed rather than a gimmicky repackaging of our current costly and broken approach to child custody.

“Numbers of children in custody have been falling, and the government’s focus should be on ensuring further reductions so that only those children who are a genuine danger are placed in custody. The few children who need to be imprisoned should be in secure children’s homes local to them, not in a 320 capacity prison in the middle of the country.”

Notes to Editors

1.The Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) is a membership organisation campaigning for a better youth justice system. We have over 30 organisations as members, a full list can be found here

2. SCYJ’s response to the Government’s Transforming Youth Custody consultation can be found here


Campaign Update: Lots done… More to do

In last Wednesday’s debate on the Anti-social Behaviour Bill (ASB), the Lords voted against re-defining anti-social behaviour as “conduct capable of causing nuisance and annoyance”, as the government wanted to do. Instead, they chose to keep the old definition of ASB: conduct capable of causing “harassment, alarm or distress” – except in housing cases.  

The Government lost by 178 to 306 votes – a pretty significant defeat.

But it’s not over. There is a chance that the Government will try to reverse the Lord’s decision and return to the “nuisance and annoyance” definition when the Bill goes back to the House of Commons. We’ve since signed a letter to Theresa May, alongside organisations such as JUSTICE and the Criminal Justice Alliance, asking the Home Secretary to respect the House of Lords decision and not to attempt to change the definition of anti-social behaviour when the bill goes back to the Commons.

SCYJ Publishes Joint Briefing with SEC for House of Lords Report Stage of the Children and Families Bill

The Children and Families Bill will have it’s third day of House of Lords Report Stage on 7th January 2014.

SCYJ are working in conjunction with the Special Education Consortium to brief Peers around Clause 70 – a portion of the Bill which meant children in custody were exempt from having their SEN needs met. Since the inception of the Children and Families Bill we have been working with the Government to provide a suitable alternative to ensure that children in custody can have their EHC plans follow them right through custody and into resettlement with minimal disruption.

The Government have since laid their amendments. We warmly welcome the Government’s intention to now delete Clause 70 from the Bill, however, we believe the Government isn’t putting a strong enough duty on local authorities to ensure children in csutody have the right to access the educational provision specified in an Education, Health and Care plan.

Our House of Lords Report Stage of Children and Families Briefing is available here.

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