Young offenders institutions

Programmes, support and reviews

It is important that the stability a period in custody can provide is utilised as an opportunity for intervention (Vaswani, Paul and Papadodimitraki, 2016). Therefore throughout their time in custody, the child or young person’s needs should be met as identified in the Child’s Plan. Support in meeting these needs should continue when the child or young person returns to the community or moves elsewhere within the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).


To access programmes, a child or young person must be referred for a generic programme assessment. This will then be presented to the Programmes Case Management Board (PCMB), a multi-disciplinary group who will determine which programme is most suitable. Available programmes vary by establishment and may include:

On completion, the individual is presented back to the PCMB to discuss progress and any outstanding areas of need/risk to inform future case management. The PCMB can refer the child or young person to specialist support if this is required.


Children and young people can access a range of further support services that may include official bodies (e.g. Job Centre; Department of Work and Pensions; Skills Development Scotland) and a wide range of third sector organisations. Supports may include youth work, parenting, employability, life skills, counselling, and in respect of relationships, trauma, abuse, loss and bereavement.


A full curriculum is available for children and young people and a range of qualifications can be accessed, from vocational qualifications to higher education.

As children and young people on remand are in the same houses as those who are convicted, the same supports and education are available to both, although eligibility may vary depending on the length of time the child or young person has to remain in custody.


Children and young people on remand do not have to work but those who have been sentenced do.

The work available varies by establishment but may include joinery, plumbing, painting, bricklaying, engineering, welding, and hairdressing.


Health services are provided by the local NHS Health Board. Services include:

…with a range of further clinics, services, groups and programmes available. Health Centre staff can also refer children and young people on for a range of other healthcare services, both internally and externally. This would be determined by individual need and in some cases services are offered as opt out (e.g. sexual health and blood borne virus screening). Length of detention may also affect service access, such as whether treatment would take longer than the period of detention. As required, care plans are established and reviewed regularly, with multi-disciplinary case conferencing available to provide management plans for individuals who have complex needs. In HMP & YOI Cornton Vale, the above services are available, alongside a mother and baby unit; and where the individual is pregnant, automatic referral would be made to the community midwife, social work, Forth Valley NHS maternity services, multi-disciplinary mother and baby meetings and a child development worker.

Prison-based social work

In addition to the social worker based in the local authority where the child or young person ordinarily resides, prison-based social work services are available. Further information on the roles and responsibilities of these services are detailed in the National Objectives for Social Work Services in the Criminal Justice System: Standards – Throughcare.


For all children and young people: review meetings should take place throughout the child or young person's period of detention at a frequency determined by the length of sentence and individual needs. Reviews should by chaired by a representative from the local authority where the child ordinarily resides and include the child or young person, their family (where appropriate), Personal Officer and YOI staff (where possible), the Lead Professional and other relevant professionals. A Template for Reviews for Young People in Custody has been developed to support the chairing and recording of reviews. These reviews of the Child’s Plan should be undertaken based on GIRFEC wellbeing indicators and outcomes detailed in the plan. Reviews should be recorded as per local arrangements and the Child’s Plan updated by the Lead Professional following this. Minutes and the updated Child’s Plan should be shared with the young person and relevant others, particularly the personal officer.

The community-based social worker/Lead Professional should maintain contact with the child or young person throughout the period of detention. Out with reviews, communication and the sharing of information and plans between the Lead Professional and Personal Officer should be ongoing.

The Positive Futures Plan will be reviewed regularly by the child or young person and their Personal Officer and be shared with others – including the Lead Professional – so that changes are reflected in the Child’s Plan.

In addition

Enhanced Integrated Case Management (ICM): after the initial case conference, there will be an annual case conference between 11 and 13 months and annually thereafter.

Risk Management Team (RMT): for children or young people who have progressed to the stage where community access may be appropriate (for example through escorted visits home, work placements and eventual unescorted home leaves) and/or have additional needs in terms of their management, this multi-disciplinary body will review their case. The RMT sits weekly in HMYOI Polmont and fortnightly in HMP & YOI Cornton Vale.

For children who remain subject to Compulsory Supervision Order: reviews should be as detailed in The Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009.

For children or young people subject to an Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR):

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