Minimising Stash Points within a Young Offender Institution – Contour

  • 29 Jan 2021

This piece from Contour will look into ways that anti-ligature guards, ventilation grilles and pipe boxing solutions can help towards minimising stash points in young offender institutions…

Cell Searching In Young Offender Institutions

With high suicide rates and bullying in YOIs, 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.

Cell searches are characterised by two basic types. One type is by a routine cell search and the other is with a routine-plus cell search:

 – A Routine search is a level-A rub-down search and a cell search, with a metal detector
 – A Routine-plus search is a full body search and may also involve a property record check, in addition to a cell search

Despite the level of search that takes place, contraband such as drugs and mobile phones continue to be an area of concern in YOI environments in the UK.

It is not uncommon for a conventional cell design to have exposed pipework running along the perimeter of the cell. This causes a variety of opportunities for offenders to stash drugs, phones, and other contraband.

The Architecture Of Current UK Young Offender Institutions

It has been found that young offender institutions can be often unsafe environments, YOIs and juvenile establishments have the highest assault rates of any prisons in England and Wales.

It is not uncommon for YOIs to be built pre-twentieth-century; therefore, you will often uncover exposed pipework and outdated standard panel radiators. This will cause a variety of risks for both inmates and officers.

These risks include, radiators becoming ligature risks for inmates and vandalised radiators being picked at for sharp weapons to self-inflicted harm and injury to others.

Keeping in mind that suicide and bullying rates are high in these environments, these sorts of problems are not ones to ignore.

Reducing Stash Points With Pipe Boxing

As previously mentioned, it’s not surprising for there to be exposed pipework within YOI cells, making it easy for offenders to disguise contraband behind a pipe system.

With Contour’s pipe boxing, the exposed pipework is fully encapsulated by a 2mm Zintec steel casing, making it highly effective at deterring offenders from stashing contraband around the pipework.

For young offender institutions, pipe boxing is essential for a more practical and safety-conscious approach.

This robust and a hygienic solution helps to reduce issues surrounding the misuse of contraband and the risk of injury through scalding that is either self-inflicted or during confrontations.

Contour’s IP3x grilles can be punched directly into the sheet material to provide ventilation grilles. Pipe coils within cells contribute to the heating so having the option to have ventilation grilles that comply with MOJ standards is key. 

With elevated rates of bullying, violence is a common occurrence in the UK’s custodial sector. There are several chances for offenders to inflict violence upon themselves and fellow offenders, with scalding being a popular method.

Exposed piping can reach up to a staggering 80°C. If an inmate were to be held against an unprotected area of pipework, the chances of severe injury through scalding is considerable.

To avoid this risk, Contour’s pipe boxing delivers a safer surface temperature, minimising the risk of severe injury.

Improvised weapons are becoming a common issue. They are generally made by destructing and altering objects and furniture into something sharp-with the intent of using it as a weapon

Therefore, it is important to equip cells with strong, damage-proof fixtures, fittings and furniture. 

Contour’s pipe boxing reduces the risk of harm due to its solid and sturdy material, reducing the potential of offenders creating sharp objects from any area around the pipework.

Cleaning can be made achievable with Contour’s pipe boxings smooth surface exterior. This is ideal for environments that may be subject to unsanitary conditions.

With the smooth casing, Contour’s pipe boxing allows for effective and thorough sanitation, reducing the risk of cross-contamination and illnesses.

Reducing Stash Points With Anti-Ligature Features

Anti-ligature solutions are frequently specified in areas where there’s a potential for suicide and self-harm. An example of this would be inside a ‘safer cell’. 

However, the anti-ligature radiator and guard’s full casing and 2mm grille design ensure that they’re the ideal deterrent for the cover-up of contraband, making it highly unlikely for offenders to hide items inside the casing of the radiator or cover.

Along with Contour’s easy-access locking system, routine checks can be carried out safely and thoroughly in the unlikely event of an item being placed inside the casing’s interior.


Through the appropriate specification of heating and ventilation solutions within YOI cells, you can reduce occurrences of hidden contraband, helping to promote a safe and custodial environment.

For more info on how Contour’s products can provide effective heating and ventilation grilles for your young offender institution project, get in touch with one of our experts today by visiting the company’s website.

Contour can be contacted at;
The Mansions
43 Broadway
TF11 8BB
Tel: 01952 290 498
Email: [email protected]

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