'Academies' should replace youth custody, says peer

Young offenders institutions should be replaced by neighbourhood "academies" to help cut the number of youths in custody by two thirds, a former chief inspector of prisons said in plans to be launched today.

Most young offenders should stay with relatives or be given accommodation nearby, with only one in three under-18s held on-site at the new academies, which should be within an hour of their home, a report by the Young Offenders Academy Steering Group found.



The study, carried out by a team of experts including Lord Ramsbotham, calls for the centres to provide intensive activities aimed at rehabilitating and educating the offenders as part of Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke's "rehabilitation revolution".



The proposals would require "longer term investment" and submissions have already been made to prisons minister Crispin Blunt "in response to his inquiries concerning procurement, commissioning, judicial support and local government engagement", the report said.



Lord Ramsbotham said the plans offered "a completely new approach to young people who have been through the courts".



"I call on the Government to pick this up and run with it," he said.



Project director John Plummer added: "We are not developing a 'good prison' but an entirely new approach to the education and development of vulnerable children, all of whom are young offenders and some of whom are also damaged, difficult and dangerous."



Former Tory minister Steven Norris said the key was to "ensure that young people do not enter a life of crime".



"Ken Clarke is committed to cutting crime and reducing the prison population and I know he will find the model of the Young Offenders Academy attractive," he said.



Professor Rod Morgan, the former chairman of the Youth Justice Board, added that the proposed model was "a robust, local, community-based model for reducing the use of custody by effectively addressing the multiple problems young offenders typically have".



"The model deserves to be trialled," he said.



"Unless the public can see that the 'rehabilitation revolution' comprises genuine, safeguarding alternatives to the current custodial model, there is a danger that the Government's bold steps will falter and the initiative will lose momentum."



The cost of a full-scale Young Offenders Academy, complete with a secure unit, would be about £49 million, raising concerns over the amount of funding it would take to provide enough centres to ensure no young criminal would have to travel more than an hour to reach one.



"Initial inquiries have been made about potential sources of funding and could be explored further as soon as ministers indicate a wish to proceed or local authorities submit expressions of interest," the report said.



A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The Government's aim is to prevent young people from committing crime and entering the criminal justice system in the first place.



"Where custody is the only option, because of the seriousness of the crime, we are already consulting on proposals to improve rehabilitation, help young people overcome their problems and put an end to their offending behaviour."



Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "It remains to be seen whether academies can work locally but with reconviction rates from young offender institutions running at around 75%, new efforts need to be made to get individual young people and their families out of trouble and avoid herding them into groups.



"Measures proving successful so far include mentoring and supervision, restorative justice, treatment for young addicts and intensive fostering."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Nurse and Room Leader - Hackney

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...

QAA: Independent member of the QAA Board of Directors

Expenses paid in connection with duties: QAA: QAA is inviting applications to ...

AER Teachers: PPA TEACHER/MENTOR

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This is a large and vibra...

AER Teachers: EYFS Teacher

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: EYFS TEACHERAn 'Outstanding' Primary ...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea