New Secure School to get young offenders away from crime set to open

0
102
Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk KC. Photo credit: Twitter

“This multi-million-pound investment marks a major step change in our approach to youth detention.”

Serious young offenders will be turned away from gangs and knife crime through rigorous education and training at the country’s first Secure School.

Prisons and Probation Minister Edward Argar visited the school in Rochester, Kent, yesterday (16 May 2024) to see how this new approach to youth justice will turn young offenders into law-abiding adults when it opens in the coming weeks.

Thanks to sustained efforts by this government to tackle crime by children, there has been an 82% drop in the number of young offenders in youth custody since 2010.

But the few hundred children left have complex needs, such as serious mental health problems and poor education, and have often committed serious offences.

Oasis Restore Secure School will put education and healthcare at the heart of steering young offenders away from gangs and knife crime.

The design is based on international research which shows that smaller settings, high-quality education and healthcare, plus a specialised workforce of teachers and youth workers are the key to successfully turning the lives of young people in custody around.

This new approach was recommended by the now Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor, who conducted a wholesale review of youth justice while chair of the Youth Justice Board.

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk, said: 

This multi-million-pound investment marks a major step change in our approach to youth detention.

By prioritising intensive education, this Secure School will put the rehabilitation of young offenders front and centre, helping to break the cycle of crime.

The Secure School will be home to up to 49 children at any one time – both boys and girls – and every young offender will be enrolled in formal education or training and encouraged into further study or secure employment on release.

Staff will be trained to offer one-to-one learning support and they will set challenging targets in core academic subjects such as English and Maths. Ofsted inspectors will hold the establishment to the same standards as all other schools and secure children’s homes nationwide, ensuring the highest possible standards.

Young offenders will also be trained in workshops designed to give them the qualifications necessary to go straight into employment or further study on release, including barbering, design technology and catering.

Placement decisions will be made internally by the Youth Custody Service in the usual way, subjected to thorough risk assessments and with safety at the forefront of the process.

Young people will be supervised by highly trained staff and the secure site has the same rigorous security procedures as other custodial settings for children.

The Rev Steve Chalke MBE, Founder of Oasis, said:

Oasis Restore represents a revolution in youth justice – a revolution that’s built on both science and experience.

The core principle behind the Secure School and the work of our staff team is an unshakeable commitment to the belief that the only way to create positive change for the young people we serve, as well as to make our streets and communities safer, is to ensure that restoration sits at the very heart of the youth custodial system. That is our privilege and our task.

The school’s core focus on getting troubled young people into jobs or further education is part of the government’s ambitious plan to drive down reoffending.

Secure schools will be inspected by Ofsted, supported by the Care Quality Commission, covering education, care and health.

The rooms in the school are fitted with the latest secure in-room technology which will allow children to continue homework and projects in their rooms and contact their families to maintain crucial ties that are proven to cut reoffending.

Over the last decade (2010 to 2024) we have seen an 82% percent fall in children (under 18s only) in custody. The average youth custody population has fallen in each of the last five years, and in the year ending March 2024 it decreased by 2.5% compared to the previous year. This was 65% lower than the year ending March 2014. However, reoffending rates are not where they should be. Of the children released from custody in the year ending March 2021, 59.8% reoffended, with the overall proven reoffending rate increasing to 32.2%.

Source: Ministry of JusticeThe Rt Hon Alex Chalk KC MP and The Rt Hon Edward Argar MP

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here