Feltham a Young Offenders Institution

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:22 pm on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice 2:22 pm, 24th July 2019

The hon. Lady takes a keen interest in this issue, not just as a local MP but from formerly serving on the Justice Committee, and she highlights the important point that a large number of the young people—female offenders and others—who end up in custody are victims as well as perpetrators of crime and that, as well as justice taking its course, we must make sure that the help they need is available to them, whether mental health help or a range of other interventions, to tackle the underlying trauma. We have seen in the past 10 years roughly a 70% reduction in the number of under-18s being sentenced to custody—the figure is down to about 700 at the moment—so liaison and diversion work. However, it is right that the courts still have the option of sentencing to custody, especially for very serious assaults, violent offences and sexual offences, but the current Government’s approach to this policy is to move towards secure schools: moving away from essentially a prison with some education to an environment that is a school with a degree of security, which is necessary given the nature of some of the sentences and some of the crimes committed. So we are seeking to address this with a cultural change in how we approach dealing with young people who commit these crimes.