The latter part of the book offers useful empirical data on the use of senior attendance centres in the early 1980s.
Mair seems disappointed with this finding, arguing that as attendance centres originated as an alternative to custody, they should be located further up the tariff.
The origins of the attendance centre are traced back to mid-nineteenth century and the search for an alternative to imprisonment for juvenile offenders.
The major theme which emerges is a consistently muddled way of thinking about the penological purpose of the attendance centre. It is seen both as an uncongenial and unpleasant punishment, and equally to have real value as useful training.
The eighty-year history of the attendance centre is characterized by a refusal to ask, let alone answer, two fundamental questions: How could the experience deter offenders?