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Page 43, line 42, at end insert ("and
(b) where it does so, shall state in open court that it is of that opinion and why it is.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 61 [Detention and training orders]:

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No. 121:

Page 49, line 45, after ("offender")") insert ("aged 12 or over").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Clauses 60 to 65 introduce a new detention and training order for 10 to 17 year-olds. Amendments Nos. 121, 122 and 124 seek to restrict detention and training orders to those aged 12 and over. Offenders aged 10 and 11 can currently be sentenced to long-term detention under Section 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act. They can be sentenced to a supervision order with a residence requirement which requires the local authority to place the young person in local authority accommodation for specified periods of up to six months. Offenders aged 10 and 11 can also be taken into care through civil care proceedings if they are out of control and, if necessary, be held in local authority secure units. That range of powers is adequate to ensure that juveniles can be detained wherever this is genuinely necessary.

Past experience shows that removing young people from family and community life is likely to magnify their difficulties. Not only is the normal maturing process interrupted, but reintegration back into normal life presents great difficulties and can lead to long-term problems. All forms of institutional care or custody for young offenders have high reconviction rates; 89 per cent. of juveniles leaving Prison Service custody are reconvicted within two years.

In Committee we rehearsed at great length many of the examples relating to, and the evidence about, the consequences to young people of being placed away from home in residential care and the very high reconviction rates that occur in almost every instance. When these amendments were debated in Committee, on 3rd March, the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, said:

Therefore, one must question why that power is written into the Act at all. It seems astonishing that the Government propose to include a power in the Bill for which, in the Minister's words,

    "It is not yet apparent that there is a need".

The detention of children aged 10 and 11 is such a serious matter that Parliament surely needs evidence that wider powers to lock up that age group are genuinely necessary before empowering the Home Secretary to introduce such powers by delegated legislation.

I should like also to address Amendment No. 124, which is grouped with Amendments Nos. 121 and 122. Amendment No. 124 would prohibit the placing of

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children under 15 in Prison Service custody under the detention and training order. The current minimum age for being sentenced to Prison Service custody is 15. However, as it stands, Clause 63(7) apparently enables a child of any age given a detention and training order to be placed in a Prison Service young offender institution. This could mean a child as young as 12, or, if the lower age range for the order is reduced from 12 to 10 by order under Clause 61(2)(b), a child as young as 10 years old.

When this amendment was debated in Committee on 3rd March, the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, said:

    "In this order we want to offer flexibility in the arrangements for dealing with young offenders. We want to be able to place individual young offenders in accommodation according to their individual needs and maturity".--[Official Report, 3/3/98; col. 1113.]

It is entirely reasonable that the Government should want to retain flexibility to place older but less sophisticated youngsters in local authority accommodation rather than Prison Service custody. However, it is extraordinary that the Government should want to retain discretion to place those aged 14 or even younger in Prison Service custody. Sending young children to Prison Service custody is not just a recipe for criminal contamination but also, all too often, for intimidation, self-harm and suicide attempts. I beg to move.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend Lord McNally, I rise to speak to the amendment. In view of the lateness of the hour, I hope that the noble Baroness will understand if I do no more than say that, for the reasons she gave, we too support the amendment.

Lord Henley: My Lords, I rise to support in particular the first amendment in the group to which the noble Baroness has spoken, Amendment No. 121. My chief concern is that the Government seek a power at a time when, as the noble Lord, Lord Williams, said at Committee stage, it is not yet apparent that there is a need to introduce this order for 10 to 12 year-olds. As the noble Baroness made clear, this is a matter of extreme seriousness. We believe it is right that a power of this sort should be sought when the need for that power has been demonstrated and not beforehand. To do it by seeking an order-making power and then to introduce it at a later point is not the right way to go about it. If the Government believe that there is a need for such a power in due course they will have an adequate opportunity to secure it in a criminal justice Bill, or whatever, in the next Session. They can then seek that power and justify it to the House. I believe it is wrong to give that power to the Government, even if it is by means of order-making power subject to Parliament's approval--obviously, Parliament would not have the chance to amend it--in advance of the need being demonstrated. I hope therefore that the noble Baroness will pursue her amendment and press it on this occasion.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, we believe that courts should have the power, where there is a

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clear need, to impose custodial sentences upon 12 to 17 year-olds. The detention and training order is to replace detention in a young offender institution and the secure training order. The noble Baroness spoke of the high reconviction rate. I entirely agree. But the detention and training order regime has not been available so far with the split that I described earlier. I shall not weary your Lordships further with that.

I repeat what I said before. I said it deliberately. It is not yet apparent that there is a need to introduce the order for 10 and 11 year-olds. I hope that the need does not arise. We are considering a power that the Secretary of State may take if the evidence demonstrates it. I assure noble Lords that we propose to monitor the courts' use of the detention and training order for those over 12 to see what happens in practice and how the regime makes a difference. It is an entirely different concept. We also intend to monitor the underlying rate of offending by 10 and 11 year-olds. It is only at that stage that the Secretary of State may come to the conclusion that he wishes to extend the age range.

I turn to Amendment No.124. Some of the ground has been covered earlier in the debate relating to young female offenders. This amendment is deliberately designed to restrict options for placing young offenders subject to detention and training orders in different types of secure accommodation according to their age. We are looking for the options, the flexibility: young offender institution secure training centre, local authority secure accommodation, youth treatment centre or other accommodation provided for the purpose of restricting liberty, as specified by the Home Secretary.

If Amendment No. 124 were carried, it would hamper flexibility. A robust, vigorous, mature, sophisticated 14 year-old, a few weeks away from being 15, but subject to a full two-year detention and training order, could be placed in a secure training centre until his release, possibly after his 16th birthday, where his presence could be disruptive to the welfare and well-being of other trainees, but he could not be in a young offender institution which might be better suited to his needs, his maturity, and any specific problems he might pose.

Such an example shows that there is no benefit in arbitrarily limiting discretion. I understand the concerns about inappropriate mixing. We believe that the amendment, curiously, would reduce the flexibility which is required to put young prisoners in the most appropriate accommodation, according to their needs, according to what is best for their possible rehabilitation, and of course taking account of the risk they pose to themselves and to others. We do not believe that the amendment would be helpful to that cause. I hope that my noble friend will not seek to press the amendment.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon: My Lords, despite the challenge thrown out by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, I do not intend to press the amendment to a Division. However, I am deeply disappointed that my noble friend did not produce a more sympathetic or constructive response to the amendments. I do not believe that it is necessary for 11 and 12 year-olds. One could legislate for all sorts of things which might be possible in the future. One could imagine all sorts of strange things that one

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might introduce, on the possibility that they might be necessary at some future time. That does not seem an adequate reason for introducing them into Acts of Parliament. However, as it is, at the moment, we hope, a remote contingent possibility that we are going to lock up 10 and 11 year-olds in that way, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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