Page 1. HC Deb, 12 June 2014, c319w 2. Impact Assessment: Transforming Youth Custody 3

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1 Secure colleges and the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill (Part 2 and Schedules 5 & 6) House of Lords Second Reading briefing For debate on Monday 30 June 2014 Introduction The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill (the Bill) legislates for the introduction of secure colleges as a form of youth detention. Plans for secure colleges were set out in the government s response to the Transforming Youth Custody (TYC) consultation, published in January TYC also set out plans to improve resettlement and existing educational provision in Young Offenders Institutions (YOIs). The Government s stated aim in introducing secure colleges is to save costs, put education at the heart of youth custody and reduce reoffending. Construction of a 320-bed, 85million pathfinder secure college will begin next year and may hold girls and boys between 12 and 17 years of age. The first secure college is due to open in Leicestershire in The government has announced that Wates has been selected as the preferred bidder to design and build the pathfinder. A contract is due to be signed this month. 1 In 2009, the Ministry of Justice were granted planning permission to build the country s biggest Young Offenders Institution (YOI) on the same site as the pathfinder. These plans were scrapped. The Children s Right Alliance or England (CRAE), the Howard League for Penal Reform and Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) are opposed to secure colleges. In particular we are concerned by: 1. Size The secure college would be the largest custodial institution in the country for children. The pathfinder will hold 320 children. This is to achieve economies of scale and so save costs. 2 Large custodial institutions are violent and intimidating. Of the 16 deaths of children in custody since 2000, all occurred in young offender institutions (YOIs) and secure training centres (STCs) the largest types of institution in the secure estate for children. None occurred in small secure children s homes (SCHs). Small secure units, with high staff to child ratios, such as SCHs, are safer, can best meet the complex needs of children in custody and have the best outcomes for detained children. 3 Large institutions inevitably result in children being detained further from their homes. This has a negative effect on rehabilitation and makes maintaining family contact difficult. The UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty say that secure institutions for children should be small-scale and the number of juveniles detained in closed facilities should be small enough to enable individual treatment. (Rule 30). 1 HC Deb, 12 June 2014, c319w 2 Impact Assessment: Transforming Youth Custody 3 They helped me, they supported me : achieving outcomes and value for money in Secure Children s Homes, 2014, 2 Secure Impact Accommodation Assessment: Transforming Network. Youth Custody 43 Joint They Committee helped me, on they Human supported Rights, me : 2014, achieving Legislative outcomes Scrutiny: and value (1) Criminal for money Justice in Secure and Courts Children s Bill and Homes (2)Deregulation, 2014, Secure Accommodation Network. Page 1

2 In its recent report on the Bill the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) said: We emphasise the importance of existing international human rights standards to [secure college] provisions: for example, that the State should set up small open facilities where children can be tended to on an individual basis and so avoid the additional negative effects of deprivation of liberty; and that institutions should be decentralised to allow for children to continue having access to their families and their communities. 4 The size of an institution is not in itself a barrier to success. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, wrote in a recent article: in my view the government needs to proceed very cautiously with its plans to reform custody arrangements for children and young people. Put simply, no young person is going to take advantage of better education and resettlement opportunities if they are frightened and looking over their shoulder all the time. All the evidence suggests that concentrating young people in large establishments a long way from home compromises both safety and resettlement. 5 Former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers has said that, in terms of safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement, smaller prisons are more effective because: they provide an environment in which people are known, in which relationships can develop, in which people are often closer to home Girls and younger children The pathfinder secure college will hold 320 children. This may include children as young as 12 and girls. YOIs only hold boys who are 15 or over. There are a very small number of girls and younger children in custody: in 2012/13, 95% of children in custody were male, 96% were years old. This means each secure college will hold a very small number of young boys aged between12 and 14 and an even smaller number of girls mixed in with a large number of older boys. This creates serious, unprecedented, safeguarding risks and it is likely that the regime will be designed around the majority s needs, thus putting the girls and young children at risk The Government does not seem to have assessed the impact of secure colleges on girls and younger children. The JCHR said: We note that the Government does not appear to have carried out any equality impact assessments of the proposed secure colleges policy, and we recommend that such assessments should be carried out and made available to Parliament at the earliest opportunity, assessing in particular the impact on girls and younger children of detaining them in large mixed institutions holding up to 320 young people including older children up to the age of Younger children and girls will be held in separate living units. The Minister has acknowledged there are risks in holding girls and younger children together but says he is confident that those risks can be managed 8. He has not said how. SCHs and STCs currently hold boys and girls and older and younger children successfully Response The youth secure estate has moved away from split-sites, which have been discredited: they are difficult to run, and require children to be locked up for longer periods, in order to prevent 4 Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2014, Legislative Scrutiny: (1) Criminal Justice and Courts Bill and (2)Deregulation Bill Fourteenth Report of Session Page 4. 5 Hardwick, N., 2014: Feltham: time for a new start, Criminal Justice Matters, Volume 95, Issue 1, 2014 DOI: / , Pages Anne Owers in Justice Committee (2008) Towards effective sentencing Fifth Report of Session , 184-ii, Q375 7 Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2014, Legislative Scrutiny: (1) Criminal Justice and Courts Bill and (2)Deregulation Bill Fourteenth Report of Session Page Jeremy Wright. House of Commons Hansard, 12 May 2014 : Column 537 Page 2

3 different groups from coming into contact with each other; children held in split-sites consistently reported poorer experiences than those in dedicated sites. 9 The ratios in SCHs are far closer and the institutions are smaller. The smaller SCH units are able to operate safely because: Rather than requiring the young person to fit into an inflexible regime, the SCHs place the young person at the centre and provide a service that encompasses all of their needs in order to enable them to achieve positive outcomes Education and support: staff qualifications and the lack of detail in the Bill Improving education in custody is a welcome ambition but building a new prison is not necessary to achieve it. A number of initiatives have sought to improve education in child custody in recent decades from improving education in YOIs to the introduction of STCs. There is almost no detail about the education or support to be provided in secure colleges 11 either in the Bill or in the Transforming Youth Custody consultation response. For instance, there is no detail of how the education on offer will be developed, how secure colleges will manage and educate a large, complex population 12, or staff to children ratios. Nor is there any detail about the qualifications secure college staff will need, or the support and training they will receive. It does not want to hamper provider innovation and that as with free schools it will be for education providers to determine how best the educational engagement and attainment of young people in a secure college can be raised. 13 More detail will be contained in the contracts with operation providers. It recognises the more expensive establishments provide the most hours of education a week (30 hours per week in SCHs and 25 hours a week in STCs as opposed to an average of only 12 hours a week in YOIs) but that "youth custody is too expensive" and "we need to reduce our reliance on the most expensive provision if we are to achieve better value for money. 14 We have seen no evidence that the Government has developed minimum requirements for secure colleges or the criteria against which providers proposals will be assessed. This is commissioning backwards providers should have to demonstrate how they will meet requirements that the Government has set-out in advance. Secure colleges are not like free schools: o Only a small number of providers will be able to run secure colleges, many more are equipped to run schools. We understand that there will only be one contract for operation of the secure college the education contract will not be separate. o o Free school providers cannot make a profit, unlike providers in the justice system. Even free schools have minimal statutory requirements on the curriculum they must teach, and, as a result of recent events in Birmingham, more may be introduced. Parliament will not have the opportunity to influence the contracts. It may not even be able to see them until they have been signed; education contracts for YOIs were recently put out to tender but the documents have not been made publicly available. We question how the secure college model will, in practice, provide the significantly greater emphasis on education the Government envisages if the overriding imperative is to cut costs and to withdraw from the more expensive provision where a greater number of education hours is currently provided. 9 See, for example, HM Inspectorate of Prisons Annual Report (2010/11) 10 They helped me, they supported me : achieving outcomes and value for money in Secure Children s Homes (2014) 11 TYC (e.g.para 11) says that detainees will receive holistic support. It is not clear what this would mean in practice. 12 Delivering education in an SC will be very different to delivering learning in an outside school or college due to young people entering and leaving custody at different times and having a wide variety of other needs. 13 Jeremy Wright, Minister of State for Justice, Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, House of Commons Committee Stage. House of Commons Hansard, 20 th March 2014, Column Ministry of Justice Criminal Justice and Courts Bill Fact sheet: Secure Colleges available from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/322165/fact -sheet-secure-colleges.pdf Page 3

4 4. Use of force The Bill sets out that a secure college custody officer may use reasonable force to ensure good order and discipline (GOAD) if authorised to do so by secure college rules (Schedule 6, (8(c)) and (10)). Using force to maintain GOAD has proved dangerous in the past and led to force being used against children illegally. Use of force includes use of restraint. Children s prisons can be run without using force for GOAD. SCHs have never used force for GOAD. In 2008 the Court of Appeal ruled that using force to maintain GOAD in Secure Training Centres was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. 15 This was because it amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment and the Government had not shown that use of force to maintain GOAD was necessary. There has been no significant change in circumstances which is likely to make the use of force necessary for GOAD now, when it was not necessary in Therefore, we consider that the use of force for GOAD to be unlawful. The Howard League is currently representing a boy who had his arm broken whilst being restrained. Because it is potentially so dangerous, the use of force should be limited to situations in which it is necessary in order to keep children or staff safe. Permitting force to maintain GOAD is so broad it will allow force to be used in almost any situation. Primary legislation needs to be clear and definitive on limiting the circumstances in which force can be used; it should set-out exactly when force should be used, not use subjective wording that is open to broad interpretation. The JCHR recently found that: it is incompatible with Articles 3 and 8 ECHR for any law, whether primary or secondary legislation, to authorise the use of force on children and young people for the purposes of good order and discipline we recommend that the relevant provision in Schedule 4 of the Bill should be deleted, and the Bill should be amended to make explicit that secure college rules can only authorise the use of reasonable force on children as a last resort; only for the purposes of preventing harm to the child or others; and that only the minimum force necessary should be used. 16 The Bill itself doesn t allow force to be used for GOAD. It leaves this possibility open for the secure college rules. It does not intend force to be used for compliance, it believes it should only be used in particular, limited circumstances. The JCHR is clear that permitting force to maintain GOAD would be incompatible with ECHR so why leave this possibility open for secondary legislation? If the government does not intend to allow force for GOAD in secondary legislation it should remove it from the primary legislation. Otherwise, there will be confusion. The courts have found that differing messages between primary and secondary legislation on when force can be used led to confusion and the illegal use of restraint in secure training centres. 17 The same could happen in secure colleges if the primary and secondary legislation do not appear to be consistent. If the government have specific and limited circumstances in mind in which force can be used, these should be specified in the Bill, as per the JCHR recommendation. GOAD allows force to be used in almost any situation. 15 R (on the application of C) (a minor) v Secretary of State for Justice [2008] EWCA Civ Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2014, Legislative Scrutiny: (1) Criminal Justice and Courts Bill and (2) Deregulation Bill Fourteenth Report of Session Page R (on the application of C) (a minor) v Secretary of State for Justice [2008] EWCA Civ The courts found that the confusion between the primary and secondary legislation relating to the use of force in secure training centres (between the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and the Secure Training Centre Rules) resulted in the widespread illegal restraint of children for GOAD in the STCs Page 4

5 The secure college rules have not been published. Parliament may not have the opportunity to scrutinise them before the Bill becomes law. During Report Stage debates in the Commons in May 2014, the Minister said during the Bill s passage the government would publish and consult on [its] plans for secure college rules, including, where appropriate, setting out some indicative draft provisions. 18 However, no dates for publication have been given and the rules themselves are unlikely to be published until after Royal Assent Rights and welfare Article 3 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out that, in all actions concerning children the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. This provision is reflected in legislation regulating the treatment of children in various contexts. In 2010 the government made a commitment to have regard to children s rights when developing law and policy affecting children. It is not clear if the government has fully considered the impact of the UNCRC on the Bill no impact assessment or memorandum on the children s rights issues raised has been published. The Bill promotes the best interests of the child because secure colleges are institutions which will place a significantly greater emphasis on education within the secure estate As the Bill proposes the imprisonment of children (including those who are very young and others who are vulnerable) in a large institution, the government must rigorously assess its plan against the standards in the UNCRC and other international standards on juvenile justice 20 and explain how it will ensure children s rights are safeguarded in the secure college. We are concerned Schedule 6 (8) of the Bill sets out that an SC custody officer must attend to children s wellbeing, which is not as strong as the duty to ensure good order and discipline. We would like a stronger duty to assess and pursue each child s best interests included in the Bill as is the case in other legislation affecting children. For further information contact: Paola Uccellari on Jen Chambers on or Anna Boehm on The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views of all member organisations of the SCYJ. 18 Jeremy Wright, House of Commons Hansard, 12 May 2014 : Column See fn 14, Ministry of Justice Criminal Justice and Courts Bill Fact sheet: Secure Colleges 20 In particular Articles 37, 39 and 40 of the UNCRC and the Committee on the Rights of the Child s General Comment 10 on Children s rights in juvenile justice, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice and the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty. Page 5

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