Ofsted has recently completed a report, Girls in Prison, which is a survey of female juveniles completing detention and training orders, conducted between October 2002 and April 2003 at three secure establishments. Because the second half of a detention and training order is spent on supervision in the community, the findings cover the experiences of girls in detention and on licence. The main findings of this report are:
• the majority of young women interviewed had poor educational histories with low levels of attainment;
• all but a small minority of the surveyed group had exceptionally low levels of self-esteem (around half had experienced severe depression during sentence, of whom a significant number had a history of self-harm);
• attendance at education during custody was highly valued by the majority of those interviewed;
• the community aspect of the detention and training order did not provide sufficient structure or support to cope with personal problems or help them to progress to further education, training or employment;
• the quality of careers information, advice and guidance was extremely variable and too often inadequate; and
• the availability of suitable programmes and support structures for young women on licence was inconsistent from one youth offending team area to another.
This summary is taken from the website of HM Prison Service and reveals an acknowledgment that girls may not be well served by the Prison Service, the Probation Services or youth offending teams.