Young people (juvenile offenders)

Young People

Young people are offenders under the age of 18, or in some cases aged 18 but remaining in the under 18 estate, and will be held in either a Secure Children’s Home (SCH), a Secure Training Centre (STC) or a Young Offender Institution (YOI). The Youth Justice Board is responsible for placing young people in custody and typically those aged under 15 will be held in an SCH and those over 15 will be held in either a YOI or STC. Only 17 year old female young people are normally placed in a YOI.

Young people can be sentenced to either a Detention and Training Order (DTO), imprisonment under section 90 or 91 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 or imprisonment under section 226 or 228 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

YOIs holding young people operate within many of the same rules and policies as prisons for men and women. Whilst sentenced young people will be subject to the YOI Rules, young people on remand are subject to the Prison Rules. Most PSIs and PSOs apply to young people in the same way as they do to adult prisoners. Where there are particular differences for the regimes appropriate to young people, these will be set out in the Care and Management of Young People PSI, currently 28/2009.

There are 8 YOIs holding male young people in England and Wales. These are:

Youth Offending Institutes Location NOMS Region
Ashfield* Gloucestershire N/A
Cookham Wood Kent Kent and Sussex
Feltham Greater London Greater London
Hindley Greater Manchester North West
Parc* Wales N/A
Warren Hill Suffolk East of England
Werrington Staffordhsire West Midlands
Wetherby West Yorkshire Yorkshire and Humberside

*Ashfield and Parc are contracted establishments

There are 3 dedicated female young person units in England. These are:

Establishment Location NOMS Region
(Jospehine Butler Unit)
Surrey Greater London
Eastwood Park
(Mary Carpenter Unit)
Gloucestershire South West
New Hall
(Rivendell Unit)
West Yorkshire Yorkshire and Humberside


Management of the Youth Justice System

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS), through the small number of establishments holding young people and the Young People’s Team, supports the youth justice system by looking after young people in custody and working with youth justice partners to help prevent those young people from reoffending.

PSI 28/2009 provides guidelines and mandatory instructions to Governors of YOIs holding young people, so that they can operate regimes in accordance with their statutory requirements.

The following explains some of the rules and aspects of a YOI holding young people:


All young people undergo an initial assessment, which is designed to identify any urgent physical and mental healthcare, substance misuse and family issues. They will then be provided with a first night pack and offered the opportunity to make family or carer contact. For young women, this assessment will include identifying any childcare or pregnancy issues. After the initial induction, young people will be provided with more detailed information about the regime of the YOI and allocated a personal officer, who can be their first point of contact for any concerns.


The YJB and NOMS provide custodial places for young people under a Service Level Agreement (SLA), which sets out the standards to be delivered in YOIs. The regimes in YOIs holding young people are designed to provide a safe and secure environment for young people, which take account of the responsibilities and child-centred approach reflected in the Children Act 1989, the Children Act 2004 and the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009.

Education and Activities

Education in YOIs holding young people is commissioned by local authorities from outside contractors, such as local colleges. Young people may also engage in vocational training. If they have demonstrated a sufficient level of trust and development, young people may apply for temporary release. Temporary release can be granted so that young people can undertake activities in the community linked to education, training or employment opportunities, as well as to generally assist with resettlement.

Staff in YOIs holding young people

Training in the Juvenile Staff Awareness Programme (JASP) is offered to all staff working in direct and regular contact with young people.  JASP is a two part, seven day training programme, which provides staff with a comprehensive understanding of the issues that young people face in custody. JASP includes modules on safeguarding, mental health, substance misuse and behaviour management.

Further information

Directgov has useful information about young people and the law – including young people and the police, courts and sentencing. Find out more on Directgov:

Young people and crime – Directgov

Her Majesty's Prison & Probation Service


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