Study into borstals is launched by Leeds academic

LOOKING BACK: Borstals, which catered for 16 to 23-year-olds, were eventually abolished in 1982.
LOOKING BACK: Borstals, which catered for 16 to 23-year-olds, were eventually abolished in 1982.
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A senior academic at a Leeds university has launched a study looking into what life was like in borstals.

Dr Heather Shore, a reader at Leeds Beckett University, has been awarded a grant to enable her to start the pilot project.

The project will be a starting point for the first full study into the borstal system and its young inmates.

The traditional age for those at borstal was between 16 and 21, before it was increased to 23 in the 1930s.

Explaining why she has chosen to research the topic, Dr Shore said: “There is a considerable gap in our understanding of how young people, aged 16 to 23, have been dealt with by the Criminal Justice System.

“The history of borstals is a surprisingly neglected area in academic study.

“I’ll be focusing on getting evidence of inmates’ experience of the borstal system, as well researching selected institutions in the National Archive, The National Justice Museum and local record offices across the country.

“The institutions to be researched in the project include the first borstal which opened in Kent in 1902, Feltham in West London which changed to a Borstal in 1910 and Aylesbury, a girls’ borstal that also opened c. 1910.

“In the longer-term, this research will lead to the first full study of the borstal system.

“This will range from its establishment in 1902 to its abolition in 1982 and has the potential to attract significant interest from the Home Office and policy groups.”

The collection of data will take place between April and December, with publication expected in 2018.

Paula Dillon, President of Leeds Chamber Commerce.

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