Plans for Secure College rules

Closed 27 Nov 2014

Opened 16 Oct 2014



In February 2013 the Government published a consultation paper, Transforming Youth Custody: Putting education at the heart of detention. This set out the Government’s vision to transform youth custody to tackle high reoffending rates and high cost, and to place quality education at the centre of efforts to rehabilitate young offenders.

The consultation sought views from a wide range of organisations and individuals on how the Government’s vision for Secure Colleges should be implemented.

In January 2014 the Government published its response to the Transforming Youth Custody consultation outlining its plans to introduce Secure Colleges, a new form of youth detention accommodation with innovative education provision at its core which will equip young offenders with the skills, qualifications and self-discipline they need to turn away from crime.

The consultation response confirmed that a purpose-built Secure College Pathfinder would be opened in the East Midlands in 2017. If the Pathfinder proves successful it will inform our vision for the future of the youth custodial estate in England and Wales.

On 5 February 2014 the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill was introduced in Parliament containing provisions which set out the legal framework for Secure Colleges. These provisions include a power for the Secretary of State to make Rules governing the operation of Secure Colleges. The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent before the end of 2014.

This consultation is about the policies which will inform the statutory rules governing Secure Colleges (the “Secure College Rules” or the “Rules”).

The purpose of the Rules will be to set out the core parameters within which Secure Colleges will be required to operate to ensure that young people are detained safely and securely, and that their educational and rehabilitative needs are addressed.

Rules will cover issues which are so fundamental to the safe and effective operation of a Secure College that the Government believes they must be set out in legislation. The Rules will also address the requirements of section 47 of the Prison Act 1952, (the power in primary legislation to make Secure College Rules).

As well as seeking views on whether the policies which inform these Rules are right, we also invite views on whether we have identified the right areas which need to be covered by Rules.

A competition to identify an operator for the Secure College Pathfinder will commence in early 2015. At this time we will be producing a draft operating specification for the Secure College Pathfinder. Building on the fundamental requirements to be established in the Rules, this draft specification will set out further detail in relation to the regime and services that we will expect operators to deliver at the Secure College Pathfinder.

The draft operating specification will be subject to further development and agreement with potential operators as part of that procurement process. No decisions have yet been taken about who will be accommodated in the Secure College Pathfinder.

Throughout this consultation document we have included references to what we anticipate will be in the draft operating specification for the Secure College Pathfinder. This information is provided solely in order to provide consultees with more context on how the Rules are likely to fit with the draft operating specification, and therefore how the Secure College Pathfinder could be run. In many cases the draft operating specification will expand on the requirements established by the Rules.

Our aim is that, while following the requirements set out in the Rules, and complying with the final agreed operating specification for the Secure College Pathfinder, operators will still have sufficient flexibility to innovate and develop operating models which will most effectively educate and rehabilitate the young people in their care.

Indicative drafting of Rules

This document is not consulting on the proposed wording of the Rules themselves. We believe that consulting on the underlying principles rather than detailed drafting will better enable consideration by consultees. We have, however, provided some indicative drafting in respect of Rules on the use of force as we recognise this is a topic of particular interest.


  • Citizens
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Youth workers
  • Young people
  • Charities
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Young offender institute staff
  • Offenders
  • Youth Offending Team workers


  • Youth Justice