Youth Custody Services

Youth custody services centres are legally designated facilities that house young offenders who have been ordered by the court to serve a period of time in open or secure custody, or for youth who have been detained in custody pending further court appearances. Youth may be held in custody centres for all types of offences, ranging from persistent property offences to serious violent offences.

Mission Statement:

Youth Custody Services provide a safe, secure, healthy and humane environment with a range of services that respond to the needs of youth, thereby promoting lawful behaviour and contributing to public safety.


  1. To carry out orders of the court.
  2. To protect society by providing appropriate supervision and interventions in a safe and supportive environment.
  3. To facilitate rehabilitation by providing youth with optimal opportunities for healthy growth and pro-social development through:
    • effective programs that respond to the individual and cultural needs of youth;
    • a youth-focused integrated case management process that provides for comprehensive and dynamic case plans; and
    • implementing strategies that promote successful
      re-integration to the community.

Youth are sentenced by the court to either secure or open custody. Secure custody is intended for youth who have been found guilty of serious offences or for youth who have a persistent pattern of offending and cannot be reasonably supervised in a community setting or in open custody. Open custody is intended for youth who are not appropriate for placement in a community setting but who can manage effectively with less stringent controls and greater privileges within an open custody centre.

The court determines if a youth will be placed in open or secure custody based on various factors, including seriousness of the offence, the youth's prior court history, previous behaviour while in custody and response to supervision in the community.

There are three youth custody services centres in BC:

  • Victoria Youth Custody Services
  • Burnaby Youth Custody Services
  • Prince George Youth Custody Services

All centres are legally designated as places of temporary detention (remand custody) and provide both secure and open custody.

Each youth custody services centre has a probation officer and case managers assigned to work with the youth while they are in custody. Case management is a process which includes all initiatives and interventions which afford young persons optimal opportunities for growth, development, responsible decision making and positive change. It is a dynamic process requiring on-going review and consultation with the youth, parent/guardian, and other involved persons (e.g., community probation officer, social worker, program staff etc.). Case management for youth involved with the justice system commences and terminates with all continuous youth court orders requiring supervision. The primary responsibility for the case management of all youth rests with the assigned community probation officer which continues during the committal of young persons to custody and placement in any residential resource.

Programs for Youth in Custody

Programs available to youth in custody fall into four categories:

  1. Basic Programs address the basic needs of youth. Youth in custody have a right to receive these programs and services in accordance with legislative requirements and/or national and international standards.

    Examples of basic programs include education, religious, recreational/ leisure programs and family visits.

  2. Core Programs provide structured, interactive processes for individuals and groups of youth and are designed to directly influence beliefs, attitudes, lifestyles and skill deficits known to contribute to unlawful behavior. Core Programs are led by staff members and/or other professionals.

    Examples of core programs include substance abuse management, youth violence intervention and life skills.

  3. Specialized Programs respond to distinct needs of particular youth or categories of youth.

    These include services for Aboriginal youth, female youth, violent offenders and youth requiring mental health services or drug and alcohol counselling.

  4. Reintegration Programs support a youth's return to the community through the provision of community based services.

These programs include Intensive Support and Supervision and community transition beds.

Referrals to programs for youth in custody are made by case management staff in consultation with community youth probation officers.