01/18/2012 04:48 EST | Updated 03/19/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. to close two custody facilities for girls

The B.C. government says it's closing facilities for young female offenders in Prince George and Victoria because of low occupancy rates and centralizing the services in Burnaby.

Prince George and Victoria facilities provide services for less than a dozen offenders aged 12 to 18, according a statement issued by the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

"The very small numbers of girls in Victoria and Prince George centres - sometimes only one or two at a time - has not allowed for the development of sustainable female-oriented programs in those centres," said the statement.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees Union said about two dozen jobs will be lost as a result of the closures.

Funding will be provided to allow the girls' families from Vancouver Island and the north to visit their children at the Burnaby centre.

According to the ministry, B.C. consistently has one of the lowest rates of youth custody in Canada, due its use of community-based alternative programs, treatment services and integrated service delivery.

"B.C.'s youth custody rates have fallen 75 per cent since 1995-96, from a high of 400 to an average of 105 in 2011-12."