Prison Life

When someone goes to prison they have to follow many rules or procedures, but they have also certain rights. Prisoner’s rights include, the right to food and water, protection from bullying and harassment, being able to contact their solicitor and have the relevant health care. If they break any rules or commit an offence while in prison they will be reprimanded and punished accordingly.


Most prisoners share a small room, called a cell, with one other person. They can take in a few of their own belongings, like pictures and radios. However all the furniture is supplied by the prison and you don't get to decorate your cell.

You should get to spend 30 minutes a day outside, normally in an exercise yard. But if the weather is bad this might not happen. Everyone eats in a canteen and can mix together during what's called free association. Inmates have to keep their own cell floor and furniture clean.

Category A: The most dangerous prisoners. If they escaped there would be a huge threat to the public. The prison service aims to make it impossible for these people to escape.

Category B: Less of a threat to the public, but still dangerous enough to need levels of security which makes it very difficult for them to escape.

Category C: Prisoners who are thought to be of very little threat to the public, they either don't want to escape or don't have the skills.

Category D: People who do not pose a risk to the public and are unlikely to escape. These prisoners can be held in open prisons.

Youth Offending Service

If you get into trouble with the police, you may be referred to your local youth offending team, who will support and supervise you. They will also help your family, if needed. You and your family will have a caseworker from the youth offending team. They will work with you if:

  • You get into trouble with the police or you get arrested
  • You are charged with a crime and have to go to court
  • You are convicted of a crime and given a sentence


Your will be given an assessment. This looks into your background to see if there are any problems causing you to get into trouble, like:

  • Not attending school
  • Family breakdown
  • Drugs or alcohol problems


The team will talk to you, your family and anyone involved with looking after you - like social services or your school. They will help support you to enable you to deal with any problems.

Young people and Custody

If you are found guilty of a serious crime, or if you have offended lots of times before, you could be sentenced to custody.

If you are under 18 and sentenced to custody, you will be sent to either a:

  • Secure children’s home
  • Secure training centre
  • Young offender institution


Secure centres are very different from adult prisons. You will be treated very differently from adults. You will be given help with education, training, and improving your behaviour.

Detention and Training Order (DTO)

If you are between 12 and 17 years old you could be given a Detention and Training Order (DTO). The length of the sentence can be between four months and two years. If you are given a DTO you will serve the sentence in two parts:

  • The first half of the sentence is served in custody
  • The second half is served in the community


You will be given a Training and Supervision Strategy, a detailed plan about what will happen during your sentence, and what you will have to do. During your time in custody, you will complete training or education courses to improve your skills. this may include programmes that will help improve your behaviour. During the community part of the sentence, you will be supervised by the local youth offending team.

Why Young people are sent to custody

You will be given a custodial sentence for a very serious crime

If you are found guilty of a crime, you could be given a sentence that means you are locked up - a custodial sentence.

The court can give you this kind of sentence if:

  • Your crime is so serious there is no other suitable option
  • You have committed crimes before
  • The judge or magistrate thinks you are a risk to the public


There are some sentences that you can get for the most serious crimes like murder or rape. They can only be given by the Crown Court.

Sentences for murder

If you are found guilty of murder, the court sets the minimum amount of time you will spend in custody, and you won’t be allowed to apply for parole before this time. You will only be released when they think there isn’t a big risk of you committing another crime. When you are released, you will be kept under supervision for the rest of your life.

Sentences for other serious crimes

If you are found guilty of a serious crime that isn’t murder, the court decides how long the sentence will be. However you will spend all of it in custody.

This could be anywhere up to the adult maximum for the same offence. For example; if an adult can get five years for the same crime, the court can’t sentence you for longer than five years. Sometimes the length of the sentence could be for life.

Sentences for violent or sexual crimes

For severe crimes - usually violent or sexual, if the court decides there is a need to protect the public. You could have an extended sentence and this could mean you spend a long time in custody. Even when you are released, you will be put under close supervision.