YOUTH jails have reached crisis point as the number of young offenders receiving a new type of punishment has soared by nearly a third.
Magistrates and judges in England and Wales are handing down hundreds more Detention and Training Orders (DTOs), a hybrid sentence for 12 to 15-year-olds.
Figures show an estimated 5,500 orders were made in a nine-month period last year, compared with 4,200 over the same period in 2000, an increase of 31pc.
Probation leaders fear the good work achieved at young offenders' institutions will be undone by severe overcrowding problems.
Castington in Northumberland, Feltham in west London and Hollesley Bay in Suffolk have made great strides with literacy and numeracy classes and other rehabilitation programmes, said Harry Fletcher of probation union Napo.
"The rise in the number of orders has been such that the positive work done with young offenders is being threatened, " he said.
"It's absolutely essential that more community orders are made to resolve the situation. …