HMYOI Werrington was working more positively with the young people it held, but still had areas to address, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the young offender institution near Stoke-on-Trent.
HMYOI Werrington holds up to 160 boys under the age of 18. During the inspection about two-thirds were sentenced and one-third on remand. The significant risks and accountability of institutions holding children and young people means they are now inspected more frequently. This inspection followed an inspection in 2012 where inspectors found a reasonably caring institution, but one that had slipped back, where expectations were too low, poor behaviour not sufficiently challenged and where young people had little to do. This inspection found some improvements, but with significant shortcomings remaining.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- the new purpose-built reception was impressive and young people reported very positively about their treatment on arrival;
- behaviour management had improved;
- use of force had fallen, was better managed and incidents were now more likely to be de-escalated by staff;
- child protection and safeguarding arrangements were very effective and Werrington was well connected with the local authority in support of this work;
- relationships between staff and young people were positive, but this was often not reflected in formal structures such as case notes or an effective mentoring scheme;
- there were higher expectations of young people and outcomes for young people from minorities were reasonably good;
- young people generally had a reasonable amount of time out of cell;
- Werrington was developing its strategy to improve learning and skills and attendance and behaviour were better; and
- work in support of resettlement remained good.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
- although anti-bullying measures were more robust, levels of violence remained high;
- the quality of respect was critically undermined by some very poor environmental conditions: some cells were filthy and a few were not in a fit state to house young people; and
- some teaching required improvement and the range of vocational training was limited.
Nick Hardwick said:
“Werrington has taken steps to address some of the key issues we identified at our last visit. There is now a more positive approach to working with young people and some significant risk continues to be reasonably well managed. This will be more sustainable and useful if it is supported by effective systems and structures to embed the improvement. Improvements to the provision of purposeful activity need speeding up and the cleanliness of accommodation requires immediate attention.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:
“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector recognises the progress that is being made at Werrington.
“The Governor and his staff are working positively to offer good resettlement and improve the behaviour of a complex and challenging population.
“They will continue to build on these improvements as they address the recommendations set out in the report.”
A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 6 March 2014 at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/prison-and-yoi/werrington