Broch lad leads way in ITV reality show

TV guide.
TV guide.

An obvious solution to a reoccurring problem?

This is what new ITV reality show “Bring Back Borstal” is trying to prove.

Gerry Hendry, brought up in Fraserburgh, is appearing in a new ITV series, Bring Back Borstal.

Gerry Hendry, brought up in Fraserburgh, is appearing in a new ITV series, Bring Back Borstal.

In 1982 the Borstal system was abolished in the UK in favour of youth custody centres as a way to reform young offenders.

In 2012-2013, the Ministry of Justice figures showed that 47,000 of the UK’s young offenders, aged between 16 and 21, reoffended within a year of being cautioned, convicted or released from prison.

In the 1930s, the borstal system produced a re-offending rate of around 30%, as opposed to a modern (2014) youth re-offending rate of at least 75%.

Now, nearly 33 years after its abolition, an ITV four part series is aiming to show that the system can still be effective today.

Gerry Hendry, who stars in he show alongside 14 young offenders, was brought up in the Broch and attended Fraserburgh Academy.

His father was a Broch native while his mother hailed from Inverallochy.

A retired prison governor, Gerry moved to Wetherby in North Yorkshire at the age of 20 to begin a career in the prison service.

He joined up as an officer before being rapidly promoted to assistant governor then governor.

After three years in Wetherby Gerry moved to Durham where he was introduced to the Borstal system.

“People will say you can’t take a 1930’s system and implement it into a modern regime when actually, yes you can!

“The Borstal system is about educating young people who have previously failed in education. It is also about physical education and proper eating. These are needs not being met by the current system.

“It’s about investing in the boys as individuals.”

After being alerted to the fact the show was being made, Gerry wrote to the creators with strong interest.

“I’m a great believer in investing in young people.”

“Borstal in it’s purest form was 70% effective, only 30% of people ever returned.

“It’s not about getting ticks in boxes and meeting targets, it’s about dealing with people effectively and deflecting people from a life of crime.”

Gerry, who also lectures at Durham sixth form college, felt that the show looked like a real challenge.

“The show really opened my eyes as well as the eyes of the boys participating in the show.

“None of them have reoffended since the completion of the programme.

“I have kept in touch with all the boys and have acted as a mentor to them.

“I know how effective the show has been and how positive an impact it has had on them. Not to give anything away.”

When asked if he felt the Borstal system was a viable alternative to the current structure, Gerry said:

“People might think it will cost a lot of money to implement this type of system but really it won’t.

“If we think it’s viable to run private prisons as a profitable business then why would we not invest in them?”

Bring Back Borstal runs Thursdays at 9:00pm on ItV and StV and catchup is available on STV player.