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Forecasting the Demand for Places in Juvenile Secure Facilities


As part of the reorganisation of the youth justice system, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) of the Home Office became responsible for purchasing and commissioning places for juveniles remanded or sentenced to custody. The Dartington Social Research Unit (DSRU) and PRB were funded by the YJB to assess the likely demand for places over the next three years, and to investigate the range of factors that may affect demand. Demand undoubtedly changes over time, due to socio-demographic forces, policy changes, attitudes of magistrates to new court disposals, and availability of places. Developments in the youth justice system will produce new sources of information, as the YJB is requiring that local youth offending teams provide annual audit information. Part of the aim of this project was to determine the key questions that can be asked year on year to gauge likely need for secure places.

What did the research involve?

The timescale for this project was very short, eight weeks in total. The project was completed by Easter 1999. Within that time period three different types of data collection took place:

  • We built up a national picture of trends in use of secure accommodation for young people over the last 5-10 years. This involved the collation of existing published and unpublished statistics from government departments and local authorities.
  • We audited six Local Authorities' use of custody over the previous year, and their own assessments of their likely need over the next year. This included discussions about factors that affect demand, such as magistrates' attitudes to the new Detention and Training Order.
  • We performed a detailed audit of a sub-sample of cases sent to custody over the previous year, to build up a more detailed picture of them and the decision-making process involved in committing them to a secure environment.

Timescale and final product of the research

An unpublished report was submitted to the Youth Justice Board in 1999.

Last updated July 2004