New curbs on juvenile offenders

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The Independent Online
COURTS are to be given new powers to hold younger juvenile offenders in secure accommodation while awaiting trial, the Home Office announced yesterday.

The Government tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill, which will allow courts to order that 12- to 14-year-olds be placed in local authority secure accommodation while awaiting trial or sentence.

Currently, courts only have the powers to make such an order if the juvenile is 15 or 16. Home Office sources said the intention of the new measure was to close the loophole whereby younger persistent juvenile offenders absconded while on remand, breached bail conditions and committed further offences. Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, said: 'The public needs to be protected from juveniles charged with serious offences or who abscond time and time again.'

The proposal dovetails with one of the main planks of the Bill - the creation of secure training orders for convicted persistent offenders aged 14 to 16.

The Committee Stage of the Bill in the House of Commons last night heard that the Home Office had already earmarked locations for the five planned centres where up to 200 offenders will serve the new training orders. They are at Doncaster in South Yorkshire, Olney in Bedfordshire, and in Oxfordshire, Co Durham and Kent.