COUNCIL leaders want urgent action to ensure children and teenagers detained in youth prisons are safe after an inspection this year found that not a single one was fit for purpose.
Despite being made aware of the state of youth prisons in July, the government has not taken clear action to improve the centres where violence, self-harm and suicide have increased.
Now the Local Government Association (LGA) has urged the Tories to publish a clear plan to improve conditions, pointing out that if youth prisons were under the control of local councils the lack of action would be totally acceptable.
“HM Prison and Probation Service were made aware of these issues in July, yet we still have no clear idea of what action will be taken, and by when, to rectify the situation and make sure our young people are safe in custody,” said LGA children and young people board chairman Richard Watts.
“This situation would not be acceptable for local authorities, schools or any other public institution charged with the care of children, and it should not be acceptable for [the prison service].”
The inspection earlier this year by HM Inspectorate of Prisons described the speed of decline in the custodial estate for children and teenagers as “staggering.”
Not a single institution in England and Wales was found fit for purpose and the number of assaults among detainees had increased 27 per cent in the year to December 2016.
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said that a new Youth Custody Service will have an executive director “for the first time in the department’s history” to head reforms that would include a claimed 20 per cent increase in the number of front-line staff.