Northern Ireland Assembly, Monday 07 December 2010
I ask the Minister of Justice to outline his policy on youth justice. (AQO 1489/10)
David Ford (Alliance)
The reality in this society is that most children do not offend. For the small number who do offend, we have proportionate, progressive and restorative arrangements that aim to reduce the risk of further offending and help to reconnect children with their families and communities. The Department subscribes to the policy of custody as a last resort but recognises that it is sometimes required to protect the public. In that regard, we are, in conjunction with key partners, making significant progress in reviewing custodial arrangements for young offenders under the age of 18.
With the Youth Justice Agency in the lead, the review aims to use the skills and expertise that exist in the agency and the Prison Service to deliver better-focused outcomes for young people in custody, to support reintegration and to reduce reoffending. Some of the outcomes of that valuable work have already been implemented, and it has the potential to deliver further significant improvements to our juvenile custody services. I hope to be able to announce the outcome of the review in the near future.