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What is a Youth Center for Offenders?

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England provides secure facilities for young people and children who have been detained or remanded by a court. These establishments are also known as “youth jails”, “young offenders institutions” (YOIs), or Youth Centers.

Youth detention centers (also referred to as Young offenders Institutions (YOIs) in England) are secure facilities for young people and children who have been detained or placed under custody by a judge. These centers provide a secure setting where young people can be held accountable for their actions while receiving support and intervention to address any offending behaviors.

Youth centers exist across the country, some housing up to hundreds of young people. These facilities may be managed by government entities or private companies with a contract with them.

Youth center youth must abide by strict regulations, such as set mealtimes and structured activities. Counselling, therapy and other support services may also be provided to address any underlying issues.

Youth centers typically house young people apart from adult prison inmates and staff closely monitor their safety and welfare. These facilities strive to help young people take responsibility for their lives and make positive changes, with the ultimate aim being reintegration back into their community.

A Few Youth Centers that are found in England

Youth detention centers (YDCs), also known as young offenders institutions (YOIs), can be found throughout England. Some of the most notable are:

  • Cookham Wood Young Offender Institution, situated in Rochester, Kent, can house up to 185 boys between 15 and 18 years of age.
  • Feltham Young Offender Institution in West London can accommodate 180 boys between 15 and 18 years.
  • Wetherby Young Offender Institution is a West Yorkshire institution that can house up to 320 boys between 15 and 18 years of age.
  • Hindley Young Offender Institution, situated in Greater Manchester, can house up to 640 boys aged 15-18.
  • Brinsford Young Offenders Institution in Staffordshire can house up to 480 boys between 15 and 18 years of age.
  • Parc Young Offender Institution in Bridgend (Wales) can accommodate 240 boys between 15-18 years of age.
  • Aylesbury Young Offender Institution, situated in Buckinghamshire, can house 444 boys between 15-18 years of age.

What offenses do kids have to commit in order to be sent to a youth center?

In England, there is no set list of offenses that could lead to a young adult being sent to either youth jail or young offender institution (YOI). Judges consider many factors when deciding whether or not they should remand or sentence someone to either a youth detention center or YOI, including age and criminal history.

However, most youth sent to youth centers have been convicted for serious or violent crimes such as robbery or assault, burglary or drug-related offenses. Most who end up in custody have been involved in criminal activity for some time and have committed multiple offenses.

It is essential to remember that custody should always be the last resort for young adults. The government has committed to reduce the number of youth in custody and use community-based alternatives whenever feasible. When placing someone into custody, the court will consider their welfare as well as providing them with support and intervention to correct their behavior.

Key Differences between Youth Centers and Prison

Age of Inmates

Prison can be used for adults over 18 years of age, while Youth Detention Centers/ Youth Center may serve young people between 10-17 (or up to 21 in certain cases).
Longevity of Sentence: Youth in Youth Centers tend to receive shorter sentences than adults, with the goal being rehabilitation and reintegration back into society. Adult prisoners may face longer jail terms with a focus on punishment and deterrence.

Youth Center Education and Training

Youth in YDCs/YOIs must attend school and engage in structured activities while they are detained, although adult prisons may not allow this.

Rehabilitation and Support in a Youth Center

Youth Development Centers/YOIs offer support to young people to help them overcome bad behavior and make positive life changes. Counseling, therapy and other supportive services may be offered. Similar services are sometimes provided in adult prisons as well, though the focus here is more on rehabilitation than punishment.


Youth Detention Centers/YOIs have been designed to cater to the needs of young people and are generally more supportive and less harsh than adult prisons. Adult prisoners are housed separately within these YDCs/YOIs, under stricter surveillance and monitoring.


Government considers the remanding of a youth who commit crimes into a Youth Center as a last resort and is actively trying to reduce the number of kids in these youth detention centers and provide alternative types of rehabilitation like community based alternatives wherever possible.

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