“(7) In the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000—
(a) in section 77 (supplementary and consequential provision), at the end insert—
‘(3) The provision which may be made under subsection (1) in relation to section 61 of this Act (abolition of sentence of detention in young offender institution etc) also includes provision amending or repealing—
(a) any provision of the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2020,
(b) any provision of an enactment that was inserted or amended by, or by regulations made under, the Counter- Terrorism and Sentencing Act 2020’;
(b) in section 78(2) (meaning of ‘enactment’), after ‘in this Part’ insert ‘other than section 77(3)’.”
This enables the power in section 77 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 to make amendments consequential on the abolition by that Act of sentences of detention in young offender institutions to be used to deal with references to such sentences inserted by the provisions of this Bill.
Government amendment 1 enables a power in section 77 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. This power is to make any amendment that arises as a consequence of sentences of detention in a young offender institution being abolished by the Act. Should the DYOI be abolished, the power will be used to deal with references to DYOI sentences inserted by the provisions of the Bill.
The amendment in the name of the Minister seeks to amend clause 50 to make reference to sections 77 and 61 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. Despite his introduction, it is unclear what the Minister’s intentions really are. As members of the Committee will be aware, sections 59 and 61 of the 2000 Act allow for the abolition of the special sentence for the detention of a young adult in a young offender institution. The explanatory note to the 2000 Act—passed under a Labour Government, mind you—sets out the policy reason behind that:
“it is now widely accepted that 18, and not 21, is the age of” maturity, and
“there is no logic in having a separate sentence for those aged between 18 and 20 years old, and those aged 21 and over.”
That almost kills my arguments of the last few days—but it does not, because, despite the provisions being in place for two decades, the 2000 Act to which the amendment refers is yet to be implemented. I, for one, am quite happy about that, but it prompts the question of why the Government’s amendment draws on a 20-year-old piece of outdated legislation. What is the Minister’s intention?
In the 20 years since the 2000 Act was passed, a considerable amount of work has been done on the age of maturity, and it is now widely accepted, as I have said on numerous occasions, that 25 is considered by many to be a more suitable age of maturity. As such, it would be deeply concerning if the Government had any ambition at all to enact the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act. The impact of doing so would be that offenders as young as 18 would be held in prison alongside adults potentially double their age or more. That could be hugely damaging, not only to the individuals but to the hope of rehabilitation too.
The Minister has provided the Committee with a guarantee that he has no intention of housing young offenders caught up in the provisions in the Bill alongside adult prisoners. Many may see this as a technical matter, but there are some very real dangers, as I have alluded to, and I am sure the Committee would welcome a further reassurance from the Minister that the Government have no intention whatsoever of using the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act to imprison young people alongside adults.s
I understand this to be a technical amendment to ensure legislative consistency between the Bill and the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act. I am not aware of any plans to change the current detention arrangements. I do not believe that the reference is designed to pave the way to do that. It is just a technical amendment to ensure legislative consistency.
Will the Minister be specific? He says he does not think that there is any intention, but it could lead to young people being imprisoned alongside adults. Will he give that assurance to the Committee again? Not understanding or not being aware of something is not good enough.
I am not the Prisons Minister, I am the Courts Minister, but I am not aware of any plans at all in the Ministry of Justice to change the current detention arrangements. None have been brought to my attention, either generally or in connection with the Bill. I can go and double-check with the Prisons Minister, and I will write to the hon. Gentleman, if he would like me to do that.