Northumberland castle hosts young offenders in TV borstal series

Bring Back Borstal  filmed in Ford Castle
Bring Back Borstal filmed in Ford Castle

The second episode of documentary series Bring Back Borstal, filmed at north Northumberland’s Ford Castle last year, hits TV screens tonight.

The ITV series, which screens at 9pm, aired its first episode last Thursday.

Bring Back Borstal  filmed in Ford Castle

Bring Back Borstal filmed in Ford Castle

Borstal in the 1930s was a much-feared institution designed to reform young offenders by enforcing compulsory work, education, discipline and intense physical activity.

In its heyday, it was a system that worked, with low levels of re-offending and a low financial cost.

Today, nearly three quarters of young offenders released from prison reoffend within 12 months.

In a unique experiment, 14 young troublemakers, half of whom have criminal convictions, have volunteered to become borstal boys, spending four weeks at Ford Castle to bring the borstal back to life.

Bring Back Borstal  filmed in Ford Castle

Bring Back Borstal filmed in Ford Castle

Taking on the role of Borstal Governor is one of the UK’s leading criminologists, Professor David Wilson, who said: “I’m taking part in this experiment because seven out of ten young people who went through Borstal in the 1930s never committed crime again after their release.”

Last week, after being force-fed fitness, discipline and hard work, four of the lads found the regime too tough to handle and left.

In the second week of the experiment, the nine remaining have to learn to take responsibility for cooking, laundry and washing duties.

Tensions between lads and staff reach breaking point as London rioter Valero kicks off about the borstal food and the Kearney brothers clash with Matron.

The Governor hopes the intervention of reformed ’70s gangster Noel ‘Razor’ Smith and a visit from the local vicar can keep the boys on the straight and narrow and start to turn their lives around.

Bring Back Borstal is on ITV tonight at 9pm.

The first episode is available on ITV Player until the first week in February.