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Last Updated: Friday, 27 July 2007, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Jail to become secure youth unit
A women's prison in Kent is to become a young offenders' institution for boys, the government has announced.

Minister for Justice David Hanson said Cookham Wood would be turned into a secure unit for juveniles because of the changing prison population.

The decision will create about 160 places for young offenders. Cookham has a special unit for under-18 year olds.

Mr Hanson said the women housed at the Rochester jail would be transferred to other prisons suited to their needs.

'Nearer to families'

He said: "Cookham Wood represents our best option to ensure more young men from London and the South Eat area being held in young offender institutions nearer to their families and the communities they will return to.

"In its new role Cookham Wood will provide a positive and constructive environment that will enable the Prison Service robustly to address juvenile offending behaviour and tackle issues such as substance misuse to help prevent young people from re-offending."

Cookham Wood was built in 1978, originally for young men, but was changed to meet the need for secure female accommodation at the time.

It currently holds 151 prisoners and has a capacity of 185.


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