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Believe people can change

You will help to create a secure and positive environment for young people.

You will be there to offer one-to-one support, form positive relationships, support education and rebuild family ties.

Young people in custody can be difficult and challenging, but have enormous potential for change.

38% of young people in custody come from a care environment
1/3 have mental health issues
50% of 15-17 year olds have numeracy and literacy levels of a 7-11 year old
(according to the Charlie Taylor review of the youth justice system in 2016)

Will young people listen to you?

Daily life

There is no such thing as a typical day. Life can depend on where you work and the young people you are working with.


You will usually follow a changing shift pattern of 39 hours a week. This can include some nights, weekends and public holidays (these days are added to your holiday allowance).

Shifts follow regular hours although the start and finish time may vary. An example shift pattern is shown below.

Start Finish
Early 7.00am 12.30pm
Late 12.00pm 8.00pm
Main 8.00am 5.00pm
All day 8.00am 8.00pm
Nights 8.45pm 7.30am

"It’s about being positive"
Simon, HM YOI Feltham

Simon has worked with thousands of young people in custody. He now mentors and develops new youth justice workers.

Young people in custody come with complex needs and issues.

They have been through a lot and left to fend for themselves, often with no positive role model in their lives.

You can’t always change the external factors but you can change their mind-set.

You need to find out their interests and build from there

All you need is one little thing. I remember a boy who was always fighting. He said he wanted to learn Spanish.

We started him reading and listening to books in his cell. From there he moved onto anti-aggression books and courses on advanced thinking.

If you say ‘no’, a young person’s reaction will show if you’re doing the job right

We try to be positive and find ways to break away from their current behaviours.

We involve youth groups and local colleges to offer opportunities for things like music.

In many ways, working in youth custody is more collaborative than working in an adult prison.

Where you can work

12 to 18 year olds who have been remanded or sentenced to detention are held in specialist locations.

They follow a different routine to prisons holding adults and young offenders aged over 18.

You will create secure conditions but also focus on behaviour management and education, and supporting emotional, mental and physical needs.

  • Specialist young offender institutes (YOIs)
    Youth custody YOIs focus on helping 15-18 year old boys with education and learning vocational skills.
  • Secure training centre (STC)
    There is currently one STC in Kent. It helps 12-18 year old boys and girls to follow a usual school week. In March 2020 it will be turning into a secure school.

The 5 youth custody locations in England

Youth custody locations

Be part of the Youth Custody Service

The Youth Custody Service (YCS) is a specialist service within Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS).

We focus on the care and rehabilitation of young people aged 12 to 18 in custody, helping to:

    • support young people in custody to live positive and crime-free lives


    • reduce the numbers of young people released from our care who reoffend


    • create an environment that is educational, safe and decent


  • improve safety and maximise opportunities for personal growth

Do you share our values?

We will deliver a child-centred service and will put young people at the centre of everything we do.

We will work collaboratively across departments and with stakeholders – take and share learning and seek opportunities for improvement.

We will show humility and treat each other with respect. We believe that people can change and we will work patiently to ensure care is taken with young people.

We share a common purpose and work together to reduce harm. We work hard to keep everyone safe.