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Alternatives to custody need to be found

In April this year, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice adopted the resolution that national action plans should be formed to reduce the imprisonment of juveniles.

Recognise failure for successful secure schools

This April would have been the 25th anniversary of the opening of Medway Secure Training Centre (STC). Like most, if not all, secure establishments it had a rocky start but represented the beginning of a major reform in youth justice. As we await the birth of the new secure school on the site of the original STC it is worth reflecting on the past 25 years.

Focus of spending must be balanced

It's official: the UK spends more money on child welfare and education than the average market economy. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report out last week, we spend just over 90,000 per child from birth to 18 compared to an OECD average among 30 member countries of just under 80,000.

Cost of custody should be devolved

The current system of placing children in prison operates under a perverse financial incentive. Local authorities, which are responsible for a range of prevention and early intervention work to divert the young from crime, are essentially rewarded for their failures. If children are sentenced to custody, they no longer pick up the tab for their welfare.

Prevention, not detention, must come first

Children's Secretary Ed Balls last week told CYP Now that he wants to "strengthen the role the youth justice system can play in preventing youth crime." His words were welcome. But they need to be backed up with action.

Resilience prevails amid Osborne's bleak choices

Like a piercing, bitter English winter, Chancellor George Osbourne's "autumn statement" was eye-wateringly harsh. It is, without doubt, children and young people growing up in the most deprived households who are being asked to bear the brunt.

Shhh... Every Child Matters lives on

Watch out, the language police are about. An internal Department for Education memo lists 30 terms the government wants consigned to history, and the words that should be used in their place. Many relate directly to children's services.

Surviving on the inside

I smiled at the recent finding by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons that a significant number of prisoners declare themselves to be Muslims because that way they get better food.

Young people in custody matter too

A government-commissioned review into the use of restraint in the youth prison system reported last December that force must be used as a "last resort".

Outstanding challenge for Ofsted

Ofsted-bashing has been on the rise for several months. Cries of exasperation over the way the children's services inspectorate goes about its business have come in fits and starts from all quarters.

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