Glen Parva young offender college a step closer

A secure college for young offenders aged between 12 and 17 took a step forward this week.

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The Ministry of Justice made an application to Blaby District Council on Wednesday to build the £85 million college next to Glen Parva young offender institution.

Plans show the site would include indoor and outdoor teaching areas, two basketball courts, a seven-a-side football pitch, workshops, a running track and a garden.

The site, on land owned by the Government but not currently in use, would also have accommodation, a clinic, car parks and bike storage.

Geoff Welsh, county councillor for Glen Parva, said he did not expect objections to the application.

“There was a time, many years back, when there were issues with young people yelling from windows but that stopped a long time ago,” he said.

The college will aim to equip young offenders “with the skills, qualifications and self-discipline they need to build a life free from crime”.

According to the Ministry of Justice, more than half of 15 to 17-year-olds in young offender institutions have the literacy and numeracy level expected of a seven to 11-year-old and nearly one in five has special educational needs.

Of all young offenders who are locked up, almost 70 per cent return to crime. Offenders at the college will be set up with training programmes that will continue after they leave custody.

Justice minister Andrew Selous said: “The secure college will be a pioneering approach to tackling the stubbornly high re-offending rates in youth custody, moving away from the traditional environment of bars on windows and putting education and training at the forefront.

“This week marks an important stage in making this innovative establishment a reality.

“By addressing the root cause of offending it will play a fundamental role in the rehabilitation of young criminals.

“We expect to invest more than £85 million in this project, which will help boost the economy in Leicestershire, creating jobs and opportunities.” The legislation to create secure colleges is going through Parliament as part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

Construction could begin next year, if approved, and the college would open in 2017.

The college will be home to young offenders from the Midlands and the East of England, though offenders from other areas could also be taken.