Acts of Parliament

Index to the Acts

See the index for the full list of Acts relating to children, schools and education and for notes on the texts.


Youthful Offenders Act 1854

This Act empowered magistrates and justices to send offenders under sixteen who had served a minimum of fourteen days in prison to reformatory schools for between two and five years. It was not until the 1890s that the reformatory school became a complete substitute for prison for young offenders.

The text of the Youthful Offenders Act 1854 was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 16 August 2019.


Youthful Offenders Act 1854

Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


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CAP. LXXXVI.

An Act for the better Care and Reformation of Youthful Offenders in Great Britain. [10th August 1854.]

'WHEREAS Reformatory Schools for the better training of Juvenile Offenders have been and may be established by voluntary Contributions in various Parts of Great Britain, and it is expedient that more extensive Use should be made of such Institutions:' Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, as follows:

On Application from voluntary Institution to Secretary of State, Inspector to report.

I. It shall and may be lawful for Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department, upon Application made to him by the Directors or Managers of any such Institution, to direct One of Her Majesty's Inspector's of Prisons to examine and report to him upon its Condition and Regulations, and any such Institution as shall appear to the Satisfaction of the said Secretary of State, and shall be certified under his Hand and Seal, to be useful and efficient for its Purpose, shall be held to be a Reformatory School under the Provisions of this Act: Provided always, that it shall be lawful for any of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Prisons to visit from Time to Time any Reformatory School which shall have been so certified as aforesaid; and if upon the Report of any such Inspector the said Secretary of State shall think proper to withdraw his said Certificate, and shall notify such Withdrawal under his Hand to the Directors or Managers of the said Institu-


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tion, the same shall forthwith cease to be a Reformatory School within the Meaning of this Act.

Juvenile Offenders, how to be dealt with.

II. Whenever after the passing of this Act any Person under the Age of Sixteen Years shall be convicted of any Offence punishable by Law, either upon an Indictment or on Summary Conviction before a Police Magistrate of the Metropolis or other Stipendiary Magistrate, or before Two or more Justices of the Peace, or before a Sheriff or Magistrate in Scotland, then and in every such Case it shall be lawful for any Court, Judge, Police Magistrate of the Metropolis, Stipendiary Magistrate, or any Two or more Justices of the Peace, or in Scotland for any Sheriff or Magistrate of a Burgh or Police Magistrate, before or by whom such Offender shall be so convicted, in addition to the Sentence then and there passed as a Punishment for his Offence, to direct such Offender to be sent, at the Expiration of his Sentence, to some One of the aforesaid Reformatory Schools to be named in such Direction, the Directors or Managers of which shall be willing to receive him, and to be there detained, for a Period not less than Two Years and not exceeding Five Years, and such Offender shall be liable to be detained pursuant to such Direction: Provided always, that no Offender shall be directed to be so sent and detained as aforesaid unless the Sentence passed as a Punishment for his Offence, at the Expiration of which he is directed to be so sent and detained, shall be one of Imprisonment for Fourteen Days at the least; provided also, that the Secretary of State for the Home Department may at any Time order any such Offender to be discharged from any such School.

Power to Treasury to defray Cost of Maintenance at Reformatory School.

III. It shall be lawful for the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, upon the Representation of One of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, to defray, out of any Funds which shall be provided by Parliament for that Purpose, either the whole Cost of the Care and Maintenance of any Juvenile Offender so detained in any Reformatory School as aforesaid, at such Rate per Head as shall be determined by them, or such Portion of such Cost as shall not have been recovered from the Parents or Step-parents of such Child, as herein-after provided, or such other Portion as shall be recommended by the said Secretary of State.

Absconding, or refractory Conduct at Reformatory School, how to be punished.

IV. 'And whereas it is expedient that some Provision should be made for the Punishment of any Juvenile Offender, so directed to be detained as aforesaid in any such Reformatory School, who shall abscond therefrom, or wilfully neglect or refuse to abide by and conform to the Rules thereof:' Be it enacted, That it shall and may be lawful to and for any Justice of the Peace, or in Scotland, for any Sheriff or Magistrate of a Burgh, or Police Magistrate, acting in and for the County, City, Borough, Riding, or Division wherein the said Offender shall actually be at the Time he shall so abscond, or neglect or refuse as aforesaid, upon the Proof thereof made before him upon the Oath of One credible Witness, by Warrant under his Hand and Seal, or in Scotland under his Hand, to commit the Party so offending for every such Offence to any Gaol or House of Correction for the said County, City, Borough, Riding, or Division, with or without Hard Labour, for any Period not exceeding Three Calendar Months.


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Cost of Maintenance to be partly recovered from Parents, &c.

V. The Court by which any Juvenile Offender is ordered to be detained as aforesaid under this Act shall charge the Parent or Step-parent of such Offender, if of sufficient Ability to bear the same, with a Sum not exceeding Five Shillings per Week towards the Maintenance and Support of such Juvenile Offender while remaining in such Reformatory School, such Payment to be in relief of the Charges on Her Majesty's Treasury in all cases where the Treasury shall have defrayed or undertaken to defray the whole or any Portion of the Maintenance of such Offender and in all other Cases such Payment to be made to the Directors or Managers of such Reformatory School.

For compelling Parent or Step-parent to support Juvenile Offenders while remaining in Reformatory School.

VI. For the better compelling the Parent or Step-parent, as the Case may be, to support and maintain wholly or partly every such Juvenile Offender while in such Reformatory School, the Provisions contained in the Act passed in the Forty-third Year of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, intituled An Act for the Relief of the Poor, for compelling the Parent of every poor Person, being of sufficient Ability, at their own Charges to relieve and maintain such poor Person, and also the Provisions in the like Behalf contained in

59 G. 3. c. 12.

an Act passed in the Fifty-ninth Year of the Reign of King George the Third, intituled An Act to amend the Laws for the Relief of the Poor, and in

4 & 5 W. 4. c. 76.

an Act passed in the Fifth Year of the Reign of King William the Fourth, intituled An Act for the Amendment and better Administration of the Laws relating to the Poor in England and Wales, shall be respectively held and deemed and the same respectively are hereby directed to be applicable, within England and Wales, to the compelling the Parent or Step-parent respectively of every such Juvenile Offender to maintain or support him, either wholly or partly, while remaining in such Reformatory School, and for the Recovery of the weekly Payment so charged upon such Parent or Step-parent; and in Scotland such Payment may be sued for and recovered at the Instance of the Procurator Fiscal or of the Treasurer of such Reformatory School in the Sheriffs Small Debt Court, and the Provisions of

8 & 9 Vict. c. 83.

an Act passed in the Eighth and Ninth Years of Her MaJesty, intituled An Act for the Amendment and better Administration of the Laws relating to the Relief of the Poor in Scotland, for the Punishment of Parents deserting their Children, or refusing or neglecting to maintain them, shall be held and deemed and are hereby directed to be applicable to the Case of Parents or Step-parents refusing or neglecting to pay the Amount so charged upon such Parent or Step-parent as aforesaid.

As to Removal of Juvenile Offenders.

VII. It shall and may be lawful for Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he shall think fit to do, so, to remove any such Youthful Offender from one Reformatory School to another: Provided always, that such Removal shall not increase the Period for which such Offender was sentenced to remain in a Reformatory School.

Act not to apply to Ireland.

VIII. This Act shall not apply to Ireland.