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Criminal Justice

Youth Justice Minister endorses use of maturity approach for young adults

Youth Justice Minister Andrew Selous, appeared recently before the Justice Select Committee, revealing that NOMS is in the process of developing a tool to assess the maturity of offenders.  He said: “sometimes I think we focus on the actual age in years, but … there is a serious piece of work to be done about the level of maturity with these people we are talking about”.


MPs at the Justice Select Committee had been told by Michael Spurr, chief executive of NOMS (National Offenders Management Service) that the Government is considering creating prisons for 18-30 years as part of attempts to improve the secure estate.  Spurr told the Committee that the change was one of a number of possible arrangements being considered in the wake of the Government shelving plans to place 18-21-year-olds with the general prison population.


Proposals unveiled in November 2013 recommended that any young person aged over 18 sentenced to custody, including those who turn 18 while in youth custody, should be sent to an adult prison.  However, the Government stalled the plans following consultation which found strong opposition to the plans from the YJB, and the voluntary sector, and is now delaying making a final decision until the Harris review into self-inflicted deaths of 18-24-year-olds is published in Spring 2015.


Michael Spurr told MPs that although he would personally support the move towards ending the distinction between 18-21-year-olds and adults, he is not necessarily keen to move away from having “specialist establishments for younger people”.  He told the Committee that trials are currently taking place in establishments where younger adults are held alongside the general adult population, including creating prisons for 18-30-year-olds, but that no final decision had been made about what arrangements are the most effective.