Letter: Children in custody

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The Independent Culture
Sir: G D Monaghan (letter, 8 November) says it is time to focus debate on how we treat children in custody. This debate is already well under way and the Youth Justice Board is charged with ensuring that reform takes place.

From April 2000 a new purchaser-provider relationship will be the vehicle that will drive these reforms through. The Board will take on a budget of pounds 150m-pounds 200m per year (currently held by the Prison Service and the Home Office) that will enable us to ensure better regimes. Service specifications will deliver new, rigorous national standards, service agreements will provide the right number of places in the right geographical locations and we will have routine access to institutions to ensure contract compliance along with a range of sanctions and measures to encourage good performance and penalise poor.

We are charged with turning around conditions in custody for young people so that the next Home Office review, does not conclude, as did the last: "There is nothing positive to say about the present arrangements for providing secure accommodation to remanded and sentenced children and young people." We mean business in changing offending behaviour when young offenders are locked up.

NORMAN WARNER

Chairman

Youth Justice Board

London SW1

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