Young Offenders

House of Lords written question – answered on 1st April 2008.

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Photo of Baroness Stern Baroness Stern Crossbench

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many people under 18 are serving indeterminate sentences for public protection; and of those how many were aged 15, 16 or 17 when they were sentenced; and

How many people under 18 serving indeterminate sentences for public protection had a minimum tariff of (a) one year or less; (b) two years or less; (c) three years or less; or (d) more than three years; and

How many people under 18 sentenced to an indeterminate sentence for public protection have been released.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

At the end of January 2008 there were 48 people under 18 serving indeterminate sentences for public protection. Of the 48, 17 were aged 15, 20 were aged 16 and 11 were aged 17 when sentenced.

No prisoner serving an indeterminate sentence of detention for public protection may be considered for release until they have completed their tariff—ie, the period of imprisonment considered necessary to meet the requirements of retribution and deterrence. The term "tariff" refers to the period of imprisonment that runs from the date of the prisoner's remand in custody.

The breakdown of tariff lengths for prisoners who have been given an indeterminate sentence of detention for public protection when under the age of 18 (some of whom will now be aged 18 or over) is as follows:

1 year or less 5
Over 1 year-2 years 56
Over 2 years-3 years 60
Over 3 years 54

Prisoners serving an indeterminate sentence of detention for public protection may be considered for release by the independent Parole Board once they have completed the period of imprisonment considered necessary to meet the requirements of retribution and deterrence (the tariff period). This period is set in open court by the trial judge when passing sentence. The Parole Board may direct the release of such a prisoner only if it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the prisoner should be confined. The Secretary of State may release such prisoners at any time only if exceptional circumstances exist which justify release on compassionate grounds.

As at 31 January, no prisoners given an indeterminate sentence of detention for public protection when under the age of 18 had been released.

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

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