Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Castington Young Offenders to phase out under-18 places

YOI Castington
Castington Young Offenders Institution can hold up to 410

A young offenders institute in Northumberland is to begin phasing out places for those under 18.

Authorities said Castington Young Offenders was running at significant "under-capacity" and the move was about making best use of resources.

Castington holds young offenders aged between 15 and 21 years old.

Juveniles aged 15 to 18 will leave the unit within six months. There are no job losses planned for directly employed prison staff.

Financial savings

In a joint statement, the Youth Justice Board and the Ministry of Justice, said: "In the last 18 months, the number of under-18s in custody has declined markedly, creating extra space in the juvenile estate.

"In order to make best use of custodial places, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) is decommissioning the under-18 places at Castington Young Offenders Institution where there is considerable spare capacity.

"We need to make the best use of custodial places and we could not justify continuing to run Castington at significant under-capacity.

"Some financial savings will accrue, which will be re-used within the custodial system. But this is not about saving money - it's about making best use of resources."

Castington Young Offenders Institution capacity is 410. It can hold up to 170 juveniles (15-18 year olds) but is currently holding 102. It can also hold 240 young offenders (18-21 year olds) but is currently holding 214.

It is only the places for those aged 15-18 that are to be de-commissioned.

The Youth Justice Board and the Ministry of Justice said arrangements would be put in place to find suitable placements for young people from the North East.

The YJB said it was "actively considering" arrangements for the young offenders currently held at the Oswald Unit, a specialist unit for longer sentenced juveniles, which is attached to Castington.

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