A critical analysis of the effectiveness of secure training centres: Conceptualising policy intent and outcomes for children

Eckton, Suzanne (2014) A critical analysis of the effectiveness of secure training centres: Conceptualising policy intent and outcomes for children. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis addresses the effectiveness of Secure Training Centres (STCs) in the rehabilitation of young offenders considered too vulnerable for prison. The notion of incarcerating children is a controversial issue and has been criticised on the grounds that there are concerns about the vulnerability of children, suffering and abuse during detention, societal implications and disregard for children’s rights. They have been accused for depriving detainees of justice, fairness and redress and even of inhumane and degrading treatment. There have been attempts to analyse the experience of custody in STCs. However these do not relate directly to the expressed aims of education and rehabilitation, protection from harm, the opportunity for the development of individuals and the prevention of reoffending.

Previous analysis has been used as secondary sources of data to consider the ways in which STCs meet the needs of young vulnerable offenders in the ways that were intended. The approach to this analysis is based on the six principles of immanent critique as the basis of a structured critical analysis of this model of custody. Two important contributions to the discourse on STCs are brought to light within the thesis. Firstly, it highlights the deficiencies in these institutions and secondly, it considers the implications of them for rehabilitation and the prevention of youth reoffending, currently standing at 75%. STCs emerge as lacking penal legitimacy and their implementation is not in keeping with the STC Rules 1998. Furthermore, when the administration of welfare and the outcomes of custody are examined, STCs are in breach of Articles 3(3), 6(2), 19(1), 25, 37(b) and 39 of the 54 articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989.

In conclusion this thesis suggests that STCs are the latest in a sequence of initiatives that have failed when addressing youth offending; that there is a need for policy reform and finally that, wherever possible, the smallest minority of young offenders possible should be subject to custody.

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