UK & World News

  • 28 June 2014, 16:43

Early Bedtime Rule For Young Offenders Slammed

Young offenders will be ordered to go to bed at 10.30pm under strict new rules announced by the Government.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling revealed the new "lights out" regulation to be imposed on 15 to 17-year-olds in English institutions.

He said those who refuse to obey the new rules will be punished with the removal of privileges such as access to a television.

But prison reform campaigners labelled the plan a "petty restriction" and said it would add to problems faced in understaffed prisons.

More than 800 under-18s are serving custodial sentences in young offenders' institutions.

Mr Grayling said: "The public expects that serious offenders face prison - that is right.

"But it is also crucial that young people, most of whom have had chaotic and troubled lives finally get the discipline so badly needed to help turn their lives around.

"In some prisons young people are allowed to go to bed when they please. I don't think that is right. Stopping this inconsistency and introducing a strict 'lights out' policy is all part of our approach to addressing youth offending.

"Those who fail to comply will face tough sanctions."

The new rules will be introduced at young offenders institutions Cookham Wood in Kent, Feltham in London, Werrington in Stoke-on-Trent, Wetherby in Yorkshire, and Hindley in Wigan, from August.

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "A new lights-out policy will only exacerbate the problem of overuse of physical restraint in the youth secure estate which indicates a lack of trained, experienced staff with enough time to supervise and support the challenging children and young people in their charge.

"As most parents of teenagers know, commonsense discussion, constructive activity, setting reasonable boundaries and encouraging personal responsibility, all work better than new hard and fast rules backed by petty restrictions and harsh punishments."

And Labour MP Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, said: "Routine is crucial for those with chaotic lives, but sending young offenders to bed early and turning the lights off at 10.30pm falls far short of the reform needed to tackle the growing chaos caused by Chris Grayling's incompetence.

"Prisons are in crisis, becoming more overcrowded by the day. Jails that are violent where prisoners spend up to 23 hours a day in their cells are unlikely to do much to stop criminals reoffending and keep the public safe."

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