HMIP analysis of the experience of children in custody in 2017 -2018

Children in Custody 2017–18: An analysis of 12–18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experiences in secure training centres and young offender institutions, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Youth Justice Board, January 2019

In 2017 Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, warned the Minister for Victims, Youth and Family Justice that HM Inspectorate of Prisons could not then classify any Secure Training Centre (STC) or Young Offender Institutions (YOI) as safe enough to hold children, because of high levels of violence. This study of children held in 2017-18 in England and Wales, warns that despite some indications of improved behaviour, 34% of children in STCs and 40% in YOIs still feel unsafe.


A total of 686 children, from a population in custody of just under 840, answered questions in a survey. Key findings included:

  • 42% of children in STCs identified as being from a black or other minority ethnic background;
  • Over a third (34%) reported feeling unsafe at some point since arriving at the STC;
  • Over half of children (56%) in STCs reported that they had been physically restrained in the centre;
  • Nearly a third of children in STCs (30%) reported being victimised by other children by being shouted at through windows;
  • Over half (51%) of boys in YOIs identified as being from a black or minority ethnic background, the highest rate recorded in surveys of YOIs;
  • 40% of boys in YOIs said they had felt unsafe;
  • Half of children (50%) in YOIs reported that they had been physically restrained.

Children in STCs were more likely to report that staff treated them with respect (87% compared with 64% in YOIs).


The report shows that there has been improvements in recent inspection findings but warns that this should not give rise to complacency. The disproportionate number of BAME and Looked After children is increasing year on year and this report shows that there has been no statistically significant shift in the perceptions of children about their treatment and conditions in STCs or YOIs.