February 13, 2008 12:03 AM

The number of young people behind bars has increased by 10% since 2005, according to figures revealed by the Liberal Democrats.

The figures revealed in an answer to Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson and MP for Cardiff Central, Jenny Willott, show that more than 12,000 people under the age of 21 are now held in custody.

Commenting, Jenny Willott said:

"It beggars belief that in just two years the number of children and young people behind bars has increased by over 1,000.

"Nowhere is the 'revolving door' of our criminal justice system more obvious than amongst young people. More than three quarters of these offenders are reconvicted within two years.

"The whole point of our criminal justice system is to keep the public safe. This means moving people away from a lifetime of criminality.

"The Government must start spending taxpayers' money more wisely. Rather than signing a blank cheque to build endless new prisons, we should focus on tackling the root causes of crime, such as low job skills, mental health problems, and drug and alcohol addiction.

"Only then we will we start to see a decrease in the reoffending which is crippling the penal system."

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