Lights out at 10.30pm for young offenders, says Justice Secretary

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CRIMINALS at a young offenders’ institution in Yorkshire will be told to be in their cells with lights out by 10.30pm as part of a new Government initiative to bring more routine and structure to their lives.

The scheme announced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is being brought in at YOI Wetherby and four other sites for male juvenile offenders between the ages of 15 and 18.

Currently, young people have to be in their cells by 8pm and individual governors set the ‘bed time’ for their own institution.

The standardisation of this policy means that young people can expect to go to bed at the same time, regardless of the YOI that they are held in, and will not be allowed to stay up all night watching TV.

Mr Grayling said: “The public expects that serious offenders face prison – that is right. But it is also crucial that young people, most of whom have had chaotic and troubled lives, finally get the discipline so badly needed to help turn their lives around.

“In some prisons young people are allowed to go to bed when they please. I don’t think that is right.

“Stopping this inconsistency and introducing a strict ‘lights-out’ policy is all part of our approach to addressing youth offending. Those who fail to comply will face tough sanctions.”

The new changes will affect young people between the ages of 15 and 17 who are currently serving custodial sentences in one of the five public sector under-18 young offenders’ institutions in England.

Those who do not observe the new bed times will be penalised and lose privileges like access to a television.

A former Naval Base on York Road, YOI Wetherby was introduced into the prison system in 1958 as a borstal and now has a capacity of 228. There are currently 827 young people serving custodial sentences in YOIs.