Report (5th Day)

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – in the House of Lords at 8:15 pm on 20th March 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord McNally Lord McNally Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords 8:15 pm, 20th March 2012

I said that if I knew then-let me get back to the speech. The noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham and the noble Baroness, Lady Linklater, acknowledged that the group we are discussing is a difficult one but that many of the ideas for dealing with it are extremely expensive. We are trying to deal with it but the Government's view is that it is not appropriate to prescribe in detail from the centre processes which purport to improve outcomes. Such a way of working would lead to inflexibility and take up resources which are better deployed elsewhere. We are looking wherever possible to empower local decision-making and delivery by prison and probation trusts so that they use resources in a way that responds to local priorities. That also fits with our policy for the management of young adult offenders as individuals based on an assessment of risks and needs rather than their age.

The noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, is a bit premature in expressing doubts about payment by results. The Government believe that it is a key reform, and we expect it to deliver better outcomes for all offenders, including young adult offenders. Young adult offenders will be involved in the pilots at Peterborough and Doncaster prisons and-I think that the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, referred to this-in the local justice reinvestment pilots in Greater Manchester and a number of London boroughs. The same point applies to designating a person to lead and implement a strategy for young adult offenders. In particular, we seek to devolve resources and decision-making so that priorities can be set locally and needs assessed on an individual basis. I assure noble Lords that we will continue to be responsive to the need to improve outcomes for young adult offenders within the resources that we have available. I believe that the House will be reassured to know that the YJB is working closely with the National Offender Management Service and other key stakeholders on the transition of 18 year-olds from the youth justice system to the adult justice system. I should point out that many 18 year-olds who are near the end of their custodial sentence are held in the youth secure estate and are not transferred to the adult estate when this is considered to be in their best interests. This enables them to continue with education or training undertaken in the youth estate and avoids an unnecessary disruption close to their release.

As I say, I do not underestimate the scale of the problem which the 18 to 20 or 18 to 24 year-old sector faces, particularly as regards young males. More work needs to be done and more thought needs to be given to how we break into this cycle of criminality. However, we are taking a range of measures. We are consulting widely, piloting and, as I said at the very beginning, doing things which will address some of the problems in this area. In the light of that, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.