People under 18 who are sentenced to custody are sent to secure centres for young people, not to adult prisons.

Why young people are sent to custody

A court can give a young person a custodial sentence if:

  • the crime is so serious there is no other suitable option
  • the young person has committed crimes before
  • the judge or magistrate thinks the young person is a risk to the public

A young person can also be sent to custody on remand.

The Youth Justice Board decides which secure centre a young person will be sent to.

They will choose somewhere that:

  • can deal with the young person’s needs safely, eg if they have a health problem
  • is suitable for their age, sex and background
  • is as near to their home as possible