Early bed-times are to be enforced for young offenders for the first time, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced today.
Under new proposals put forward by the Justice Secretary, young people will have to be in their cells with lights out by 10:30pm in an attempt to create more routine and structure to their lives.
Justice Secretary Chris 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.”
Numbers of Young People
The new changes will affect young people between the ages of 15-17 who are currently serving custodial sentences in one of the five public sector under 18 young offenders institutions (YOIs) in England. Those who do not observe the new bed-times will be penalised and lose privileges like access to a television. The changes will come into effect on 3 August 2014 and will affect the 827 young people serving custodial sentences in YOIs. These are Cookham Wood in Kent, Feltham in London, Werrington in Stoke-on-Trent, Wetherby in Yorkshire, and Hindley in Wigan.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, criticised the new regulations, claiming it would exacerbate current problems of physically restraining young people. She said the prison system was already struggling with a host of more important problems including among them overcrowding, budget cuts and “dangerously low staffing”:
“As most parents of teenagers know, common-sense 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.”