Letter: Child prisoners

Child prisoners

Sir: The level of disruption by children at the Medway secure training centre and the excessive force used by staff to restrain them ("Use of necklocks on child prisoners broke the rules", 15 January) is particularly striking for two reasons. Firstly, most of the trainees have not been sentenced for violent offences. Their most common offences are taking cars, burglary, criminal damage and theft. Secondly, local authority secure units already hold many individual children who are just as difficult as Medway's trainees, but they are not plagued by the problems which have arisen from placing so many repeat offenders together in one place.

It is significant that the plans the Government recently announced to tackle Medway's problems involved transferring some of the centre's trainees to local authority secure accommodation, which can provide much better care and control. This underlines the case for halting plans to build more secure training centres.

If the same resources were spent on more local authority secure places and intensive supervision programmes, this would do much more to reduce juvenile crime than replicating this failing experiment.

PAUL CAVADINO

National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders

London SW9

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