types of CUSTODIAL SENTENCES for young people

Custodial sentences

Young offenders aged 10-17 can receive custodial sentences but they will only be imposed in the most serious cases. When they are given, they aim to provide training and education and rehabilitate the offender so they don’t reoffend. Sentences can be spent in secure children’s homes, secure training centres and young offender institutions and can last any length between 4 and 24 months.

Types of secure accommodation

There are 3 types of secure accommodation in which you can be placed:

  • secure training centres (STCs): Purpose-built centres for children who have offended up to the age of 17
  • secure children’s homes: Local authority-run provision for 10-17 year olds providing high levels of intensive help and support
  • young offenders institutions (YOIs): accommodates children who have offended from the age of 15 to 21 years.  Young people between 15 to 17 years of age are held in units completely separate from those for 18 to 21 years old.


All young people are assessed when they enter the youth justice system, and the result of this assessment determines where you will be placed. You will spend the first half of the sentence in custody and the second half in the community under the supervision of the YOT.


What support is available?

The YOT will support you and your parent/carer while you are subject to a DTO by working jointly with the institution in relation to education, visits and welfare.

The YOT caseworker will make regular visits to see you and will help direct which intervention is best to support your development.

They will also keep in regular contact with your family and any other agencies involved with you.


Other custodial sentences

Other custodial sentences are available, but rarely used:

  • s90 s91, by Crown Court judges to sentence longer than 2 years, or for murder, detention for life
  • S226a (dangerousness) or s228 (extended supervision post-release)

More information can be found in the guideline on sentencing children and young people.