Ancestry UK

Detention Centres

Detention Centres (also known as Youth Detention Centres) were introduced by the 1948 Criminal Justice Act to replace court-imposed corporal punishment. They were intended as a 'short, sharp, shock' for 14 to 20 year-olds who were serving sentences of up to three months. Junior centres accommodated those aged from 14 to 16 years, the first, for boys, being opened in August 1952 at Campsfield House, near Oxford. Senior centres took those aged from 17 to 20, the first being at Blantyre House, near Goudhurst, Kent, opening in April 1954.

Inmates on parade at Blantyre House Detention Centre.

Around twenty establishments were eventually set up, two thirds of them being for senior boys. The only female centre, for senior girls, was at Moor Court, near Stoke on Trent. All the centres were classed as 'closed', i.e. enclosed by high walls, except for the single 'open' centre at North Sea Camp.

A reorganisation of the youth justice system in 1988 led to an amalgamation of Youth Custody Centres (formerly Borstals, and their replacement by Young Offender Institutions) and Detention Centres to create a new system of Young Offender Institutions.