Ancestry UK

Reading Borstal, Reading, Berkshire

In 1952, part of HMP Reading was turned over for use as a Borstal Institution. Its remit was to provide a corrective establishment for Borstal inmates who persistently misbehaved, a role previously carried out by Wandsworth Borstal.

Reading gained a reputation as Britain's toughest borstal. In 1967, an investigation was held into allegations by detainees of brutality by the institution's officers. After it concluded that there was substance to the complaints, one officer was disciplined and another prosecuted. The facility was closed in January 1969 and its inmates, together with those from the Recall Centre at Portsmouth, were transferred to a new purpose-built institution at Onley in Northamptonshire. The Reading premises then reverted to use as prison accommodation.


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  • Prison Oracle - resources those involved in present-day UK prisons.
  • GOV.UK - UK Government's information on sentencing, probation and support for families.