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Use ex-soldiers to teach young offenders, says Government adviser

Published 13/02/2016

Ministers are considering a radical overhaul of youth custody
Ministers are considering a radical overhaul of youth custody

Retired soldiers should be drafted in to work as a teachers in "secure schools" for young offenders, a Government adviser has said.

Ministers are considering a radical overhaul of youth custody which could see criminals aged under 18 serve their sentences in "more therapeutic" settings than prisons.

A report by Charlie Taylor, the government's adviser on youth justice, suggested the system would be more effective and better able to rehabilitate young people if education was at its heart.

The former head teacher says he wants the armed forces to be involved and for retired soldiers to teach youngsters, who could also be part of a cadet corps.

He told The Times: "The people who come out of the Army now are so unbelievably well trained, with incredible leadership skills and the ability to work with people. They do discipline very well but so much more than that.

"Lots of the boys could go into the forces and do really well."

Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed the Government will explore establishing free schools to set up secure academies for young offenders.

There are five youth offender institutions and three secure training centres for young people in England and Wales.

Under the proposals, they would be replaced with secure schools to help children master the basics in English and maths and provide high-quality vocational education "in a more therapeutic environment".

It is part of a number of measures being considered by the Government to drive down reoffending rates.

Mr Taylor's review found that around 40% of those detained in young offender institutions ( YOIs) had not been to school since they were 14, while nearly nine out of 10 had been excluded from school at some point.

Children in YOIs only receive 17 hours of education a week, compared with an expected level of 30 hours.

The report found that the number of children in custody has fallen by almost two-thirds in the last decade, reaching the lowest recorded level.

In 2014/15 the population stood at 1,048 and it is currently below 1,000, but two in three children commit a new offence within a year of being released.

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