Young Offender Institutions: The Design Considerations

Young Offender Institutions: The Design Considerations

Posted by Richard Holland on 05 November 2020 10:11:31 GMT

Young Offender Institutions_  The Design Considerations

Young offender institutions have high levels of suicides, bullying and unsafe conditions for offenders.

YOIs and youth establishments have the highest assault rates of any prisons in England and Wales according to

This prompts architects and designers to consider the custodial and detention equipment they specify.

This blog aims to go into the design consideration to meet architectural expectations, allowing young offenders the best possible chance of rehabilitation and for officers to manage behaviours effectively.


Anti-Ligature Solutions

Radiators and guards within young offender institutions should be designed to be extremely difficult to use the radiator or guard as a ligature risk.

This is particularly important as young offender institutions are susceptible to suicide and bullying to other individuals. So, bullies could use sharp radiator parts to harm others.

Radiators, and any ligature points below head-height, are an often-overlooked ligature risk in many high-security environments.

Architects and designers need to be aware of the methods that suicidal individuals use to carry out the critical act of hanging.

The Oxford Academic found that approximately 50% of hanging suicides are not fully suspended, meaning that ligature points below head level are commonly used.

With this in mind, anti-ligature solutions need to be considered. We recommend there to be no gaps or joints and for grilles that are IP3X to avoid anything being tied between them.

Bullnosed, rounded corners and having no sharp edges need to be considered to avoid harm to individuals and other service users.


Built To Withstand Acts Of Vandalism

Vandalism is also prevalent within young offender institutions. It can lead to inmates using furniture to break ‘weak points’ in cell walls.

Therefore, it's important to look for a radiator guard that is strong and robust to withstand such damage.

Zintec steel material is a strong solution to protect radiators from vandalism, damage, and corrosion.



Heating Efficiency

Some traditional radiators operate on a pipe coil system, which has several drawbacks from a design and efficiency perspective.

Often obtrusive and unattractive, pipe coil systems use far more water due to its wide diameter pipe, in comparison to an anti-ligature radiator-which operates on a much smaller section of pipework, whilst taking up less cell space.

Anti-ligature radiators can work to reduce the need for radiators to run for prolonged periods and therefore can heat up quicker.


Cell Hygiene

Officers are responsible for the wellbeing of youth offenders and the hygiene of cells. These cells are frequently subjected to traumatic and unsanitary conditions involving, blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids. This poses a severe health risk for prisoners and staff.

Therefore, radiators must have easy access for cleaning and maintenance to ensure cell hygiene is optimised.


Reducing Stash Points

With high suicide rates and bullying in YOI’s, articles have found that radiators can be used as stash points for weapons or blades. Stash points also can be used to smuggle illegal goods.

To prevent the use of stash points, officials need to consider the design features of the furniture used in cell spaces.

Therefore, you should look for a radiator solution with small grilles, we recommend IP3X to ensure nothing can be wedged into the radiators.



Contour’s anti-ligature radiators are designed with IP3X grilles to ensure there are no ligature risks.

With bull-nosed corners, rounded edges, no sharp points, and being made with Zintec steel the radiators are strong and robust to avoid harm to service users.

Hygiene is carried out with easy access for cleaning and maintenance as covers can drop-down effortlessly. To drive hygiene further, BioCote® anti-microbial protection is introduced at the manufacturing stage.

This unique, patented additive provides an effective, safe and long-lasting solution to combatting a wide range of dangerous bacteria, including MRSA and E.coli.

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About Us

Contour produces a range of innovative, safe surface temperature systems for healthcare, education, mental health, commercial and secure sectors, working in close partnership and collaborating with architects, M&E engineers, NHS Trusts, local authorities and contractors to deliver outstanding safe heating solutions.

Contour is the exclusive partner of BioCote® anti-microbial technology for LST and anti-ligature radiators.  BioCote® additives reduce bacteria by up to 99.9%. Contour combines an extensive range of colour-paints is with BioCote® for a durable, high-quality finish.

Contour’s heating solutions offer secure, single-person quick access to radiator guard interiors for regular deep cleaning and maintenance.  Each year, Contour save the NHS millions of pounds in cleaning costs, therefore delivering cleaner, safer environments.  Contour is redefining the marketplace and therefore many regards us as a design and innovation leader within the industry.

Contour has a quality-first philosophy. Our customer-focused team possess a ‘can-do’ attitude, they take pride in developing solutions for your heating requirements.

Contact us at:

The Mansions, 43 Broadway Shifnal

Shropshire TF11 8BB United Kingdom

+44 1952 290 498

Twitter: @Contour_Heating

LinkedIn: Contour Heating Products Ltd

Topics: Anti-ligature