Young people in custody
Last updated 14 May 2019 - see all updates
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- 1. Navigate to Main facts and figures section
- 2. Navigate toBy ethnicity over time section
- 3. Navigate toBy ethnicity and type of custodial order over time section
- 4. Navigate toBy ethnicity and offence group section
- 5. Navigate to Methodology section
- 6. Navigate to Data sources section
- 7. Navigate to Download the data section
1. Main facts and figures
- from 2005/06 to 2016/17, the number of young people in youth custody went down for all ethnic groups
- in the same period, the percentage of the youth custody population that was from each of the Asian and Other, and Black ethnic groups doubled
- in 2016/17, White young people made up the highest percentage of young people in custody (at 54.4%)
- in 2016/17, more young people were in custody for violence against the person compared with any other type of offence, accounting for 29.7% of White young people in custody and 47.3% of those from all other ethnic groups combined
Things you need to know
If a young person has more than one custodial order at the same time, the data is based on the most serious custodial order.
The data is from the Youth Justice Board database, which includes young people in:
- young offender institutions
- secure children’s homes
- secure training centres
The Youth Justice Board changed its database and the way it recorded some data in March 2012. Until then, most breaches of a statutory order were recorded as a separate type of offence. This changed after March 2012, and this is believed to account for a large decrease in the percentage of young people sentenced for breaching a statutory order from 2012/13 onward.
This data does not include young people in police custody.
Young people for whom ethnicity wasn’t known accounted for 0.6% of all young people in custody in 2016/17. This group is shown separately in the analysis of young people in custody by ethnicity over time.
What the data measures
The data measures the average number of young people (aged 10 to 17 years) in custody in the time period covered. The data is broken down by ethnicity, type of offence (‘offence group’), and type of custodial order (‘legal basis for detention’).
Because the number of young people in custody varies from month to month, an average is worked out for each 12-month period (1 April to 31 March). On a specific day every month, the number of young people in custody is counted - then an average is then worked out based on 12 months’ worth of counts.
The statistics on this page categorise custodial orders as one of 4 types:
- a section 91 order is used for custodial sentences of more than 24 months for serious crimes (except murder), and can only be passed by a Crown Court
- a Detention and Training Order (DTO) is 4 to 24 months long and includes both custody and training - it can only be used for young people aged 12 to 17 years
- remand is when the young person is put into youth detention accommodation when they have been charged with an offence and are detained until a trial or sentencing hearing.
- other sentences, which include detention for public protection (‘section 226’), extended sentences (‘section 226B’) and life sentence for murder with a minimum period in custody (‘section 90’)
The statistics on this page specify 6 types of offences, plus ‘Other offences’. Types of offences under ‘Other offences’ include:
- breach of bail
- criminal damage
- death or injury by dangerous driving
- fraud and forgery
- motoring offences
- non-domestic burglary
- public order offences
- racially aggravated offences
- theft and handling stolen goods
- vehicle theft or unauthorised taking
The ethnic categories used in this data
The youth custody population was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following 5 broad groups:
- Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
- Asian/Asian British and Other
- Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
For the data covering types of crime and types of custodial order, the following 2 categories have been used:
- White (including White British and White ethnic minorities)
- Other (all other ethnic minorities)
2. By ethnicity over time
|Asian and Other||Black||Mixed||White||Unknown|
|Year||Asian and Other %||Asian and Other Number||Black %||Black Number||Mixed %||Mixed Number||White %||White Number||Unknown %||Unknown Number|
Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV)
Summary of Young people in custody By ethnicity over time Summary
This data shows that:
- in 2016/17, the average number of young people in custody was 868, about one-third the number in 2005/06 (2,831)
- between 2005/06 and 2016/17, the number of young people in custody went down for all ethnic groups – the biggest decrease was in the White ethnic group, from 2,031 to 472 over the period
- in 2016/17, White young people made up the highest percentage of young people in custody (at 54.4%); but this has decreased by over 17 percentage points since 2005/06, when 71.7% of young people in custody were White
- from 2005/06 to 2016/17, the percentage of the youth custody population from Asian and Other backgrounds doubled, from 5.2% in 2005/06 to 10.3% in 2016/17; the percentage from Black backgrounds also increased, from 12.5% in 2005/06 to 23.4% in 2016/17
3. By ethnicity and type of custodial order over time
|Remand||DTO||Section 91||Other Sentences|
|Year||Remand % White||Remand % Other||DTO % White||DTO % Other||Section 91 % White||Section 91 % Other||Other Sentences % White||Other Sentences % Other|
Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of custodial order over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of custodial order over time’ (CSV)
Summary of Young people in custody By ethnicity and type of custodial order over time Summary
This data shows that:
- in 2016/17, 55.5% of White young people in custody were held on a Detention and Training Order (DTO), 22.2% had a section 91 order, 17.7% were on remand, and 4.6% had another type of custodial order
- in the same period, 41.9% of young people from all other ethnic groups combined were held on a Detention and Training Order (DTO), 25.2% were on remand, 26.6% had a section 91 order, and 6.3% had another type of custodial order
- in 2016/17, a higher percentage of young people from the White and Other ethnic groups had a section 91 order compared with 6 years ago – 22.2% of White young people and 26.6% of young people from other ethnic groups had a section 91 order (compared with 12.9% and 19.0% respectively in 2010/11)
- in 2016/17, young people from the Other ethnic group were less likely to be on remand than they were 6 years ago – 25.2% were on remand in 2016/17, compared with 32.6% in 2010/11
4. By ethnicity and offence group
|Breach of statutory order||Domestic burglary||Drugs||Robbery||Sexual offences||Violence against the person||Other offences|
|Year||Breach of statutory order % White||Breach of statutory order % Other||Domestic burglary % White||Domestic burglary % Other||Drugs % White||Drugs % Other||Robbery % White||Robbery % Other||Sexual offences % White||Sexual offences % Other||Violence against the person % White||Violence against the person % Other||Other offences % White||Other offences % Other|
Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and offence group’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and offence group’ (CSV)
Summary of Young people in custody By ethnicity and offence group Summary
This data shows that:
- in 2016/17, 29.7% of White young people and 47.3% of young people from all other ethnic groups combined were held in youth custody for violence against the person offences – higher than for any other type of offence
- in the 6 years from 2010/11 to 2016/17, the percentage of White young people convicted for robbery increased (from 18.4% to 22.1%), while the percentage of young people from all other ethnic groups combined convicted for the same offence decreased (from 31.3% to 25.1%)
- in 2016/17, a lower percentage of White young people were held in custody for drugs offences compared with young people from all other ethnic groups combined (at 4.7% and 11.2% respectively), while a higher percentage were held for sexual offences (at 13.7%, compared with 3.5% of those from all other ethnic groups combined)
Young people self-report their ethnicity. Staff working in secure training centres and young offender institutions then record this information on an administrative system.
The numbers of young people in custody are counted at the beginning of each month, updated to include new admissions during the month, and then averaged across a 12-month period.
Percentages have been rounded to 1 decimal point. Due to this, some figures may not add up to 100. Counts have been rounded to the nearest whole number. All calculations have been made using unrounded figures.
See the Youth justice annual statistics for unrounded figures and the percentages calculated from them.
Quality and methodology information
6. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Ministry of Justice
Purpose of data source
Youth justice data is used by the government to develop, monitor and evaluate criminal justice policy for young offenders. It reports on activity in the criminal justice system for England and Wales, giving information for the latest year and also longer-term trends.
7. Download the data
This file contains: Measure, Time, Ethnicity, Legal Basis for Detention, Offence Group, Value, Numerator