Press release

Justice secretary plans to put education at the heart of youth justice

Justice Secretary responds to ground-breaking review led by Charlie Taylor.

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  • Two ‘secure schools’ to be launched – alongside new measures to monitor progress in English and maths, health and behaviour.
  • £15 million to boost frontline staff by 20 percent and improve safety
  • Head of Operations established for youth custody – to reduce violence and drive up standards and dedicated officers responsible for overseeing young offenders’ progress.
  • Bid to have every young person on an apprenticeship pathway that will continue even after they have left custody

Education and training will be put at the heart of youth justice, the Justice Secretary will announce in response to a ground-breaking review led by child behavioural expert Charlie Taylor.

Tackling security and safety issues head on, she will announce plans to invest an additional £15 million a year in youth custody - boosting front-line staff, reducing violence, and ensuring young offenders get the opportunities needed for a fresh start in life.

While the number of children in custody has fallen significantly, those who remain in the system have serious and complex needs. Tackling the factors that contribute to criminality and intervening at a young age is key to breaking the cycle of reoffending – making our streets safer and improving young people’s life chances.

Taking forward Charlie Taylor’s proposals to deliver an effective, education-led approach to custody, 2 secure schools will be launched; delivering core subjects such as English and Maths, as well as a range of work training and apprenticeship schemes to help offenders find work on release.

The majority of his recommendations are being taken forward, with immediate investment and resourcing aimed at improving safety.

The overhaul of the system will also focus on life beyond bars with a youth custody apprenticeship scheme being developed to build strong relationships with employers, ensuring that all young people are earning or learning on release.

Justice Secretary, Elizabeth Truss said:

I am grateful to Charlie Taylor for his comprehensive and in depth review which sets out the stark issues we must tackle to help young offenders to live law-abiding lives.

Prisons rightly punish people who break the law, but they should also be a place where offenders are reformed. While young people are in custody we need to make sure they get the right education and training so they can lead law abiding lives – and in turn make our streets and communities safer too.

The measures I have set out today are the beginning of a series of reforms which will help us cut reoffending, make our communities safer and create a justice system that works for everyone.

Under the new system, the progress that young offenders make in education will be measured – as well as improvements in health and behaviour – to show how well establishments are doing in delivering the right teaching and training, and ensuring they are held to account.

A single Head of Operations will be established to take charge of youth custody; tackling violence, driving up performance levels and taking decisive action in the event of failures or falling standards.

Working across government, plans are being developed to ensure that when they leave custody, every child has the support of a mentor to help them sustain employment and training. This will help to ensure they do not return to a path of crime.

Charlie Taylor said:

Education needs to be central to our response to youth offending. It is the building block on which a life free from crime can be constructed.

I welcome the Justice Secretary’s plans to reform the youth justice system and focus on education and training.

If children who offend are to become successful and law-abiding adults, the focus must be on improving their welfare, health and education – their life prospects – rather than simply imposing punishment.

The government’s response to Charlie Taylor’s review is the first step to reforming youth justice, with further plans to be set out in spring next year.

This response follows the publication of a comprehensive White Paper on prisons which announced 2,500 new prison officers and an addition £100 million to make prisons places of safety and reform where offenders get off drugs and get the education and skills they need to find work and turn their back on crime for good.

Plans to reform the way we manage female offenders under probation supervision will be unveiled in the New Year.

Notes to editors

Published 11 December 2016