My Rights if I’m in a Young Offenders Institute

What are my rights in a YOI?

As with any kind of detention, if you’re under 18, all your children’s rights still apply but  have to be seen in the context of your sentence.

  • How will I know what the rules are at the YOI?

You have to be told about the rules that apply within 72 hours of you arriving. The governor in charge – or someone the governor asks – must explain the rules to you.

  • Can I complain about anything at the YOI?

You can always complain, or make a request, to the Governor or to the Board either by talking to them, or by writing a letter. If you speak to the Governor, he must consider your complaint or request as soon as possible.

  • What happens if I am ill while I’m in the YOI?

Your right to good quality healthcare continues while you are in a YOI, and the Governor must make sure you have the same access to medical and health services as everyone else.

  • Can I keep up with school work or get more qualifications in a YOI?

Your right to education continues up until you are 18, so if you want to carry on your education, you should be able to. Each YOI will have a library which you can use. If you’re 16 or younger, you should have at least 15 hours a week education and training.

  • Can I practise my religion in a YOI?

The Governor and the staff have to treat you as belonging to the religion you tell them when you arrive. You shouldn’t be treated differently or unfairly because of your religion, and you have the right to practice your religion, so arrangements should be made for you to do this.

  • Can people come and visit me?

You will be allowed visitors, but you can normally only have a visit in view of people who work at the YOI. You can usually have 2 visits in every 4 weeks.

Your legal adviser should be able to come and visit you.

Sometimes, some people might be stopped from coming to visit you, if there’s a good reason.

  • How else do I stay in touch with people?

You will be able to send and receive letters.

  • How much privacy will I have?

You’ll be living with other young people in detention so you’ll probably have less privacy than if you were at home. You still have a right to privacy however the Governor or the YOI staff can do things like look at your letters if they have to have a good reason to do this.

  • Can I be searched at a YOI?

You can be searched at a YOI, when you get there, and at other times. If you are stripped and searched, no one from the opposite sex can be there.

  • Can the officers in a YOI use force against me?

No one looking after you should be violent towards you – so if you’re in detention, this could include the officers and staff working there. Sometimes, it might be necessary for them to use some force, perhaps if there is a fight. If this happens, the YOI rules say that ‘officers can use force as long as they only use what force is necessary’.

If you are 17 or older and you might harm yourself or someone else or damage property or create a disturbance, you can be restrained by officers at the YOI just as long as is necessary to stop this happening. You shouldn’t be restrained if you are under 17, although you can be put in handcuffs.

  • Can I be put in solitary confinement?

You have the right to meet up and spend time with others, unless there’s a good reason not to. In a YOI, this would mean meeting up with other young people detained in the same YOI. There are rules which mean you can be split up from other young people in the YOI if there’s a problem. If you are separated from other young people, it could be a breach of your right to private and family life especially if you are kept separate for long periods of time.

If you’ve lost your temper, you’re behaving unmanageably or out of control, you can be put in a special room as long as it’s suitable for you to be there. You shouldn’t be put there as a punishment for losing your temper unless you have broken the rules – just until you have calmed down.

If you’re waiting for a disciplinary hearing because you’ve done something that breaks the rules, you can be kept separate from other young people at the YOI.

As a punishment for breaking a rule at the YOI, you can be removed from your wing or living unit for up to 21days. In some cases, you can be placed in a special room or cell as a punishment for breaking the discipline rules at the YOI.

  • Will I be protected from other young people in the YOI?

The Rules for Young Offender Institutions include rules to protect you from other young people who might hurt or threaten you. There is a disciplinary system in place to deal with this kind of behaviour.

  • Can I ever be let out of a YOI before the end of my sentence?

Depending on the situation, you might be able to be let out for a short time. This could be if something has happened to a close member of your family – if someone has died you will probably be able to go to the funeral. You might have a job outside the YOI while you are in detention, and you will be able to go and do that.

What are my rights in a Secure Training Centre?

If you are going to have to stay in a Secure Training Centre (STC), your children’s rights still apply. There are rules which cover a lot of your rights while you are at an STC.

  • How will I know what the rules are at the STC?

You have to be given information about all the rules and everything you need to know about being at the STC when you arrive. If you don’t get the information straight away, you have to be given it within 24 hours of arriving.

  • Can I complain about anything at the STC?

You can ask to see the Governor or an independent person to make a complaint. You can also make a complaint in writing.

  • What happens if I am ill while I’m in the STC?

Your right to good quality healthcare continues while you are in the STC, and the Governor must make sure you have the same access to medical and health services from the NHS as everyone else.

  • Can I keep up with school work or get more qualifications in a STC?

Your right to education continues up until you are 18, so if you want to carry on your education, you should be able to. Each STC has to have a library which you should be able to use. You should have at least 25 hours a week education and training which is appropriate to your age and your needs. These will all be included in a personal training plan which will be prepared when you arrive at the STC, and kept under review.

  • Can I practise my religion in a STC?

You should be able to practice your religion at an STC.

  • Can people come and visit me?

You will be allowed visitors. The STC needs to recognise how important it is for you to stay in touch with your family, if this is what you want, and as long as it doesn’t disrupt your education and training too much. The visits might be supervised, but this supervision shouldn’t be too intrusive of your privacy.

  • How else do I stay in touch with people?

You will be able to send and receive letters while you’re in the STC. You should be able to send 3 letters paid for by the STC, but you can make your own arrangements to send more letters, and make phone calls if you pay for them.

  • How much privacy will I have?

You’ll be living with other young people in detention so you’ll probably have less privacy than if you were at home. You still have a right to privacy though. You should have your own room.

  • Can I be searched at a STC?

You can be searched at a STC, when you get there, and at other times. There are rules about being searched to protect your privacy and dignity.

  • Can the Staff in a STC use force against me?

No one looking after you should be violent towards you – so if you’re in detention, this could include the officers and staff working there. Sometimes, it might be necessary for them to use some force, perhaps if there is a fight. If this happens, the STC Rules say that ‘officers can use force as long as they only use what force is necessary’.

If you might harm yourself or someone else or damage property or create a disturbance, you can be physically restrained by staff at the STC just as long as is necessary to stop this happening.

  • Can I be put in solitary confinement?

You have the right to meet up and spend time with others, unless there’s a good reason not to. In a STC, this would mean meeting up with other young people in the same STC. There are rules which mean you can be split up from other young people in the STC and keep you in your room if there’s a problem. If you are separated from other young people, it could be a breach of your right to private and family life especially if you are kept separate for long periods of time.

  • Can I ever be let out of a STC before the end of my sentence?

Depending on the situation, you might be able to get ‘temporary release’ from the STC.