The number of children in prison has been cut by a half since the Liberal Democrats came into Government, statistics uncovered by Julian Huppert MP reveal.
Between April 2010 and November 2014 the number of under 18s in custody fell from 2,149 to 1,055 – a drop of 51 per cent.
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert uncovered the figures in an Oral Question to Justice Minister Andrew Selous in the House of Commons this week.
The dramatic drop comes after Liberal Democrats in Government pushed for the Youth Justice Board to have more powers to help rehabilitate offenders in the community, rather than locking them up.
Now Dr Huppert is calling for a Women’s Justice Board to be set up in the next Parliament to take similar action to cut down the number of women in custody. This follows calls by Simon Hughes – the Lib Dem Justice Minister – to do the same.
Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert MP said in the chamber:
“That is a substantial decrease and it is very welcome, particularly at a time when crime is falling.
“Much of it has been due to the excellent work of the Youth Justice Board, which should be congratulated.”
He added later:
“We have been working hard in government to cut re-offending rates and keeping young people out of prison goes a long way to preventing them from picking up bad habits.
“Working to rehabilitate them in their communities, where they can be productive and learn new skills, helps to get their lives back on track. Not only is this important for the individual concerned, but it makes good economic sense for the taxpayer as well.
“The Youth Justice Board has done some excellent work with young people and I am confident similar work could be put into practice to help women stay out of prison. Women are often the backbone of a family and giving them custodial sentences can have a huge effect on the children.
“It is absolutely clear from the results we have seen with youth offending in a relatively short time that the measures we have put in place are working. We know that prison doesn’t work. People get into a revolving door situation where they go to prison, come out and reoffend and go back in again. We have to cut our prison population and I am very encouraged by the results we are seeing.”