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England & Wales: 'Great Expectations', Prisoner's Education Trust

14th September 2016

The report 'Great Expectations', published by the Prisoner's Education Trust, details challenges faced and makes recommendations towards better learning outcomes for young people and young adults in custody in England and Wales.

The report notes that the number of children under 18 has fallen by over two-thirds in the last seven years, and that children are also committing fewer crimes with proven offences down by 72% from their peak in 2005–06.

However, challenges facing the system and detailed in the report include:

  • Use of restraint on children is increasing. In 2013–14 there were 28 reported incidents of restraint per 100 children in custody, up from 18 in 2009–1019. 4350 injuries were sustained by children while being subject to restraint between 2011 and 2015;
  • Between 2010 and 2016, 49 deaths of young people under 21 were identified as self-inflicted21 as were 84 deaths of young adults aged between 18 and 24;
  • Self-harm rates are high with 6.6 incidents of self-harm per 100 children during 2013–14, a rise of a quarter on the year before. However, rates of self-harm are higher for girls. Girls account for 15 incidents of self-harm per 100 children, compared with 6 for boys;
  • During 2014-2015 a quarter of children (24%) held in STCs said they had felt unsafe in their centre at some point and one in three boys (33%) held in YOIs said the same;
  • HMIP Inspections revealed that two out of five YOIs during 2014-2015 were not safe enough.

The reports key recommendations towards better learning outcomes for young people and young adults in custody in England and Wales are:

  • Attention to be paid to make sure each young person’s and young adult’s learning journey is personalised and aspirational;
  • The MoJ should develop policies to ensure that the best people are recruited to work with young people, including better pay and conditions;
  • Learning outside traditional classroom settings should become the norm;
  • Resettlement needs to start from early on in a sentence to ensure there are smooth transitions to the community;
  • The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) should make it a clear policy goal to make further significant reductions in the number of children under 18 and young adults held in custody;
  • The MoJ should take a joined-up approach to the treatment of young adults in custody and should appoint a lead person for this work;
  • The MoJ should conduct an urgent review of the current 30-hour educational contracts in the young people’s estate. These are not being met and could be harmfully inflexible.

Click here to read the report.

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