Saturday, 12 June 2010

Children in jail - the numbers

Originally published on NMP's website in 2003

Children in jail - the numbers

Home Office Statistics show that prison establishments have just under 1,000 admissions each months of children. (Home Office 2002a, 2002b, 2002c) The latest figures for Novemember 2002 show a population of 2,516 boys and 110 girls in prison. 454 of these are on remand and 2,172 sentenced. The numbers of children have been increasing and these figures represent a 11% increase on the previous year.(Home Office 2002c) Nacro (2003) has pointed out that there has been a rise in the number of children sentenced to detention over the last decade whilst recorded offending has reduced by 20%.

It is likely this increase will continue. As Bright (2003) has reported that since 1997 the Labour Government have created over 300 new crimes and that dozen more crimes will be created by bills currently before Parliament. It is not only the numbers but the nature of offences that Labour has changed. The anti social behaviour bill is seeking to make it an offence for two or more youths to gather on a street corner in an 'intimidating' manner. By intimidating it is meant a situation where a police officer believes a member of the public might be 'intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed' as a result of their presence. In such circumstances a failure to disperse when instructed by the police would leave the child liable to a 3 month prison sentence (Bright 2003) It also allows the police to 'order out' of an area a non resident for 24 hours. (CRAE 2003). It will be interesting to see to what extent this power is used against black children entering a white neighbourhood.

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