Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-79)|
TUESDAY 3 DECEMBER 2002
60. That was my impression.
(Lord Warner) Your impression is correct.
61. In your note could you also enclose the
decision of the Coroner's Court in such instances, if that is
(Lord Warner) I do not think we will be able to go
back 8 years.
62. In the more recent cases.
(Lord Warner) We will let you have what we have.
63. Lord Warner, your own research has shown
that young people in custody have very low numeracy and literacy
skills, can you tell us what actions you are taking to give them
better access to education and training?
(Lord Warner) What we have been doing in the last
12 to 18 months is several things, first of all we have used contracts
with the Prison Service to try to expand the number of hours per
week of access to educational training, which has, on the whole,
been delivered. It has been patchy in one or two of the institutions
where there have been issues of overcrowding and time out of cells
for education, but on the whole in some places like Feltham there
has been dramatic improvements in access to education and training.
We have also had to grapple with this issue of why so many of
these youngsters are failing in terms of literacy and numeracy.
It is because they cannot cope with much of the material that
is being used in schools. When you talk to them they talk about
the extent to which they walked away from school, often some years
ago, really because of an inability to cope with the material.
What we have been doing, with external advice, is trying to develop
more material which is bespoke for their needs in terms of literacy
and numeracy. There is a raft of new material which is being used
in young offender institutions which we are now trying to persuade
FE colleges to use when these youngsters come out of the programmes,
from the custodial part of their sentence back into community.
That looks to be promising. We have also worked with the Prison
Service to improve and extend the number of courses which can
be operated on an individual basis through IT, so the youngsters
have some sense of progression at their own rate, they can work
through literacy programmes, they can work through education programmes
of one kind or another at their own pace, typically in a group
of 8 or 10 with a tutor in the room. They are not forced to go
at the same rate as the fastest in the class. They also have a
sense of being able to handle the material more effectively than
using written material, which they often struggled with. Those
are the kind of main developments that we have been developing.
64. Your Review document talks about the Plus
Programme, is that part and parcel of what you just described?
(Lord Warner) Yes.
65. At the moment that is a pilot scheme, are
there indications that you might roll it out to be a national
(Lord Warner) What we are trying to do now is roll
that out, I have forgotten how many places we have piloted it
in. Four, I think. I have been to Feltham and watched it, I have
seen it in action and talked to young people in Feltham who were
very positive. They occasionally said they thought some of the
material was a bit childish, on the other hand when you looked
at their literacy performance it was not surprising some of it
had to be slightly childish, in a sense, for them to cope with
it. That is what we are expanding across the estate.
66. The Board has committed itself to placing
90% of youngsters within 50 miles of their homes by 2004. Earlier
on you talked about overcrowding difficulties, and we know there
have been lots of movements to that extent on overcrowding. What
are your hopes and aspirations for meeting that target?
(Mr Perfect) It is going to be very difficult. So
far we have managed not to go backwards by reaching the placement
areas where people are sent to, and improving them. We have not
deteriorated as accommodation has filled up. Over the last three
or four weeks the numbers in secure accommodation have begun to
fall again compared to four weeks ago which is freeing up space,
so we hope to make more progress. We also need to explore things
like video monitoring so when a child does have to be placed more
than 50 miles away from home we can maintain good contact with
the youth offending team and the family, which is vital to make
the detention work.
67. Could you give us a snapshot of what percentage
today are within 50 miles of their homes?
(Mr Perfect) It is round 82% or 83%.
68. 90% is still your target.
(Mr Perfect) Yes.
69. Could you say a little about what happens
to 15 and 16 year old girls who are remanded to secure conditions
or sentenced to custody?
(Lord Warner) I do not have the figures.
(Mr Perfect) We have a weekly note on this and by
and large 15 and 16 year old girls are going to local authority
secure units and secure training centres.
70. Are there any girls held in adult prisons?
(Mr Perfect) There are because there are no specialist
YOIs for girls. The Board's policy has been to try and get them
out of the adult prisons into secure training centres
71. This could be a mainstream adult prison
which includes prisoners who are over 21, somewhere like Holloway.
(Mr Perfect) We try not to keep them in Holloway,
one or two end up there in transit. They will be on specialised
wings in places like Newborne and Brockhill, where there will
also be other adult prisoners. They are kept on their own wings.
72. Do have you any plans to make specific provision
for these girls?
(Mr Perfect) There is a plan for building a secure
training centre. One of the reasons for that is it wants to get
the girls out of adult prisons.
73. The National Association of Youth Justice
said that you have contingency plans to put girls under 15 in
prison, is that right?
(Lord Warner) No.
Mr Clappison: Very good. Thank you.
74. That is reassuring that you are not going
to put under 15 year olds in prison. Is it the case that you think
one of the reasons that we raised this question is there seems
to be a contradiction between your understanding of the law and
that of the Association for Youth Justice. Is it correct you are
saying that it against the law to put girls under 15 into prison?
(Lord Warner) We think it is highly questionable,
although it has not been tested in law. Actually much more significantly
we think it is wrong as a piece of professional practice to put
them into a prison environment. We are arguing very strongly,
and will continue to argue as a Board, that we should not put
boys or girls under the age of 15 in Prison Service accommodation,
that is wrong in principle. We have also continued to push on
with this expansion on the secure training centres, for example
there will be provision for girls in a secure training centre
which we hope will be built. We also think working with the Prison
Service that there is a case for 17 year old girls possibly being
in a specialist wing, as in New Hall, because some of the girls
of 17 do say they do not wish to be with younger children. However
they do not wish to be with older people so there is a case for
having a small number of specialist prison places which may be
attached as part of an overall adult complex but which has a specialist
facility working with the 17 year olds where many of the services
provided to them are brought in from the outside the Prison Service
by the youth offending team and others. That is purely for 17
year old girls. Our general view is that 15 and 16 year old girls
should be outside adult prisons, and that is what we are working
75. The new training centres that you are building,
will one of these be exclusively for girls or will they be mixed?
Is it because there are more girls offending now, is there a steady
increase in girls offending?
(Lord Warner) There has been a proportionately high
increase in young women sent to custody by the courts, however
it is still pretty small in overall numbers. The overwhelming
majority of young people sent to custody are boys. In absolute
terms the number of girls are still relatively small. I think
what we are trying to say is that there was a commitment by the
Government to take 15 and 16 year old vulnerable boys and girls
out of adult prisons, out of Prison Service accommodation. That
is what we are trying to deliver. That is the objective. If you
take the Milton Keynes project which will have eighty places we
would not be justified in handing over all of those eighty places
to girls, we would not fill them in all probability. What we are
looking at is a wing that would be for girls, programmes and regimes
would be specifically for girls, the staffing would reflect the
fact there were girls and they would have access to the same main
facilities as the boys but their regimes would be to meet their
needs, they would not just be piggy-backed on to the boys' regimes.
76. Up until about three years ago Feltham was
one of the most notorious, if not the most notorious, of the young
offender institutions. It is where a murder occurred, am I right?
(Lord Warner) That was in the 18 to 20 part. Zahid
Mubarek who was unfortunately killed in a racist attack was in
the 18 to 20 part of Feltham, not in the juvenile part.
77. It was Feltham. You have mentioned previously
today the improvements that have occured, is there room for further
(Lord Warner) There is always room for further improvements.
78. A recent inspection found quite a number
of continuing problems, it is not just a matter of there is always
room for further improvement.
(Lord Warner) I am looking at our monitoring. They
were compliant with contract requirements on everything except
time out of cell, which is 10 hours per day out of cell. That
was in the month of September. That is Feltham. They are not in
any breach of the service level agreement other than in the time
out of cell, which is lower than one would like. I do know, because
I have spoken to the Governor a week or so ago, that he has had
very considerable recruitment problems, which is now improving
in Feltham. Given its location it is not always the easiest place
to find staff. I have to say having been there I thought that
the mood and moral amongst the staff in Feltham was extremely
good, very positive about education and training. I think it has
an outstanding governor in the way he has changed the place. One
of the good things is that finally there has been some stability
in the Governor there, he has been there a reasonable period of
time and has stuck with the agenda. Where so many of these places
go wrong is the turnover in governors.
79. Some of us have met the Governor and I was
duly impressed. One of the criticisms in the very recent inspection
is the lack of training for staff and the care of adolescents.
That is being pursued, is it?
(Lord Warner) We do have a requirement in the contract
with the Prison Service that staff are put through approved training
programmes working with young people. Where there has been difficulty
is on releasing staff at times of shortage for some of the training
programmes, I suspect that may be a problem.
(Mr Perfect) We have opened up one or two more wings
in Feltham so new staff have come in. All of the staff are expected
to do training, preferably jointly with the youth training teams.
I suspect the new staff have not done that.