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Medway Secure Training Centre to be replaced by "secure school" under new justice plan

Medway Secure Training Centre will be replaced by the first of the government's new Secure Schools, Justice Secretary David Gauke has announced.

In his speech to the Conservative party conference earlier today the Justice Secretary confirmed the £5 million allocation to create the first of its secure schools in Medway.

The Ministry of Justice says the new schools, run by headteachers, will "place education and healthcare at the heart of youth custody" and will be run by not-for-profit academy trusts with expertise in working with children.

Medway Secure Training Centre (3247492)
Medway Secure Training Centre (3247492)

Youngsters at the Secure Training Centre - which houses about 70 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 who have been either remanded in custody awaiting sentence or convicted of offences - will be transferred to other establishments before the centre is closed in spring 2020, and the new school is set to open in late 2020.

The application and the selection process for the provider of the first establishment will be launched later this month, with more purpose-built secure schools to be constructed in the coming years.

The vision for the new secure schools was announced in June this year by then Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee, who said at the time: "Good education in and out of the classroom is the key to unlocking a secure and stable future for young people and I am determined to drive forward our comprehensive reforms so that young people are equipped with the skills to live successful, crime-free lives on release.

"Physical activity is key to a productive day in custody and I want education to be at the heart of the core day with children in Secure Schools engaging with health and education services that are tailored to meet their individual needs.

"Secure Schools will focus on the root cause of offending, by intervening early to help break the cycle of reoffending – making our streets safer and diverting young people away from a life of crime."

New Justice Secretary David Gauke announced the news on secure schools after outlining plans for a new specialist unit to identify and freeze bank accounts linked to organised crime behind bars.

He said: "Together this package of reforms and investment will crack down on the drugs and violence in prisons, further support offenders in turning their backs on crime and, crucially, help young offenders find a path out of criminality into education and responsibility."

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