There was much to commend at Parc, but they needed to understand why safety had declined and act upon it, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an announced inspection of the young people’s unit at the local prison in South Wales. [previous report]
Parc juvenile unit is a distinct and generally well separated part of the much larger prison, HMP/YOI Parc near Bridgend. The unit can accommodate 64 children, though 38 were there at the time of inspection. Its catchment area encompasses south and mid-Wales and much of south-west England. When it was last inspected in May 2014, inspectors found that young people were well cared for and experienced positive outcomes. During this more recent inspection, outcomes in the important areas of ‘safety’ and ‘respect’ had declined from ‘good’ to ‘reasonably good’. Reception, safeguarding and child protection arrangements remained effective.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
- 42% of children reported being victimised by staff, which had more than doubled from the 20% in May 2014;
- only 55% of boys felt they were treated with respect by staff;
- the use of force had tripled since the previous inspection, mostly in response to violent incidents; and
- almost a quarter of the boys reported having been assaulted by other boys at Parc.
Some of this level of violence was ascribed by staff to the destabilising effect of two particularly difficult children transferred into Parc during the autumn of 2015. If that was the case, managers need to be sure they have plans in place to stop it happening again.
The leadership were committed to providing a safe and decent environment for children and there were many instances of good work, including:
- boys accessed significantly more time out of their cell than at other young offender institutions, with regular association and exercise periods; and
- segregation was rarely used, despite challenging behaviour.
Peter Clarke said:
“Despite all the positive things that were happening at Parc, there can be no room for complacency, as the judgements in the areas of ‘safety’ and ‘respect’ have declined since the last inspection. I am sure the leadership at Parc will give this their full attention, and strive to return the establishment to its previous high performance in these key areas.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:
“As the report notes, there is some very positive work being undertaken with young people in Parc with a high level of purposeful activity and good education and resettlement provision. The number of young people in custody has continued to fall but the challenges presented by those who remain, particularly in terms of violence, are considerable. The Director and her team are committed to providing a safe and positive environment for young people in their care and will use the findings from this report to address areas of concern to achieve improvement.”
A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons