HMYOI WERRINGTON – Many positives but high levels of violence impacting lives

HMYOI Werrington in holding around 120 boys aged between 15 and 18, was found by inspectors to have become less safe over the year since its last inspection.

Notable features from this inspection
  • 56% of children identified as being from a black Asian or minority ethnic background.

  • Around 40% of frontline staff had less than 12 months experience.

  • 51% of children reported having previously been in Care.

  • 15 children were facing or serving long-term sentences.

  • 57% of children reported having been restrained.

Brief history

  • The establishment opened in 1895 as an industrial school and was subsequently purchased by the Prison Commissioners in 1955. Two years later it opened as a senior detention centre. Following the implementation of the Criminal Justice Act 1982 it converted to a youth custody centre in 1985 and in 1988 became a dedicated juvenile centre (15-18-year olds) with secure accommodation for those serving a detention and training order. Young people serving extended sentences under Section 91 of the Criminal Justice Act and remanded young people are also held at Werrington.

Inspectors assessed that the young offender institution, near Stoke-on-Trent, had deteriorated in three of HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ ‘healthy prisons tests’. Care for children and rehabilitation work had both slipped from good, the highest assessment, to reasonably good. The test of purposeful activity for those held remained at reasonably good.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, while drawing attention to many positives at Werrington, was concerned that safety had now fallen to an assessment of not sufficiently good.

“The number of assaults on children remained high and violence against staff had doubled since our previous inspection. This impacted on all aspects of life at Werrington.” Inspectors found that some of the violence was serious. The use of force by staff had gone up.

The number of assaults on children remained high and violence against staff had doubled since our previous inspection. This impacted on all aspects of life at Werrington.

“We found that potentially motivational behaviour management policies were undermined by poor implementation and the lack of consistency in their application led to frustration among children and staff. Opportunities to reward good behaviour were missed and we saw many examples of low level poor behaviour not being challenged.” Inspectors, who visited in February 2019, noted that behaviour management had become more punitive compared to the previous inspection in January 2018.

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Mr Clarke added that it was “notable that there had been significant staff turnover in the previous year. During the inspection, we met many enthusiastic staff in their first year of service. However, leaders and managers needed to be more visible to support these staff, model effective practice and ensure behaviour management policies were properly implemented to help reduce the high levels of violence at Werrington.”

Outcomes in the area of care were more encouraging. The promotion of equality and diversity by the education provider at the YOI was particularly good and inspectors found no evidence of disproportionate treatment of children from minority groups. Health care was also very good.

“Engagement between staff and children was respectful but opportunities to build more meaningful and effective relationships were missed.” Inspectors, though, commended an area of good practice. The YOI’s safer custody team maintained a database of key dates, such as the anniversary of bereavements. All staff were contacted before these dates and asked to look out for these children. Time out of cell was reasonably good for most children but ‘keep apart’ issues – aimed at keeping apart boys who might come into conflict – meant there were often delays in moving them to education, health care or other appointments.

“This meant that resource was wasted as teachers, clinicians and other professionals waited for children to arrive,” Mr Clarke said. However, attendance at education had improved since the previous inspection and children appreciated the better range of vocational subjects on offer.

Inspectors found some good work in support of resettlement but a lack of coordination. Caseworkers, and sentence plans, were not driving the care of children at Werrington.

Overall, Mr Clarke said:

“There are many positives in this report but weaknesses in behaviour management have led to deterioration of outcomes in some areas. Managers need to make a concerted effort to support frontline staff in the challenging task of implementing behaviour management schemes, with the principal aim of reducing the number of violent incidents at Werrington.”

Helga Swidenbank, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Executive Director of the Youth Custody Service, said:

“I am pleased that inspectors have recognised the large amount of positive work taking place at Werrington, including good healthcare and education, and the strong relationships staff have developed with the boys in their care. While violence is a challenge across the youth estate, the new Governor has already started to implement plans to reduce it, review behaviour management and improve the one-to-one support for every boy. As part of a new initiative, experienced staff are now providing more support to recently recruited frontline officers and this will help to drive improvements at Werrington.”

Read the Report

HMP Parc Young Persons Unit: Inspectors Commend Continuing Improvement – But CSIP and Catering Issues Must Be Addressed

Inspectors visited the Young Persons Unit at HMP Parc in South Wales last October and in their Report, published on 26th February 2019, said:

HMYOI Parc is a small juvenile facility comprising two wings and holding up to 60 boys aged under 18 located in the much larger Parc prison in South Wales. The unit and wider prison are operated by the private company G4S. At the time of this annual inspection there were 37 boys in residence.

At our last inspection we reported how good leadership and a re-energised staff group had contributed to significant improvement at the establishment. It was clear on this visit that the team had continued in their efforts to make the unit safer, more purposeful and more respectful. We had previously found high levels of violence, and boys with poor perceptions of their own safety. During this inspection, perceptions of safety were much better and recorded violence was on a consistent downward trajectory, with few serious incidents. Very few boys isolated themselves in their cells or were located in the segregation unit. The leadership team had established a reward-led culture that motivated most boys to behave, incorporating an evidence-based instant rewards scheme that we considered good practice.

Child protection procedures, an area in which we have previously been critical, were now much more effective and again evidenced good practice. Similarly, the multidisciplinary case management approach to managing the victims and perpetrators of violence through the application of a nationally sponsored process known as CSIP1 was an example to the many establishments that have struggled to grasp its potential.

Our highest assessments were in the areas of respect and purposeful activity. The units were clean and well maintained, relationships between boys and staff were good, and staff were tolerant but also displayed the confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour when necessary. They balanced authority and care to create a supportive and disciplined environment.

The strategic approach to the management of equality and diversity had improved and health care services remained good. Time out of cell was impressive, even for those on the lowest level of the rewards scheme. There had been a progressive move to establishing a whole-unit approach to managing the boys at Parc. Departments worked together in a way we do not often see. Some experienced prison officers had been supported to undertake the postgraduate Certificate in Education training to work in education, which served to break down barriers between departments.

The education unit was exceeding the performance indicators set out in its contract and boys achieved a success rate of over 90% in most qualifications.

However, we made two main recommendations, one regarding the food and the other risk management. During our inspection, we spoke to most of the boys on both units. They were quick to praise staff and were very fair about their experiences at Parc, complaining about very little. This gave considerable credibility to their consistent complaints about food. Our own observations supported their negative perceptions and we would urge the prison to meet with the contractor at the earliest opportunity to address concerns in this important area.

Our second main recommendation concerned weaknesses in the establishment’s approach to risk management. Caseworkers worked well as part of multidisciplinary teams and were particularly effective in helping to manage boys on CSIP plans. The team knew the boys on their caseloads well and contact was good. However, despite significant information about risk being available to caseworkers, it was not always recognised or sufficiently investigated to inform sentence planning and management. This meant that planning for release did not adequately consider the vulnerabilities of or risks posed by some boys on their return to the community.

Given the energy and commitment put into addressing the concerns raised at previous inspections, we remain confident that leaders at Parc will make every effort to address our recommendations.

This was a good inspection and we found that the establishment was characterised by good relationships, excellent multidisciplinary work and strong leadership.

Mark Leech, Editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales writes:

There is no getting away from it this is a good report on a small unit managed by G4S, the same company that six months ago saw the Ministry of Justice step-in to Birmingham Prison, which it also then operated, because of disastrous issues of management and control.

The young person population at Parc is minute by comparison, the report is silent on the resources made available to this Unit in terms of staff profiling, a constant defect in Inspection Reports that prevent effective comparability, but this is a good report, on an often difficult to manage, volatile and vulnerable population.

Parc overall is a huge prison, one of the largest in Europe and a research report last month showed that Wales has the highest rate of imprisonment in Western Europe – despite having one of the lowest crime rates.

The rewards-based focus identified in the report demonstrates once again that more carrot and less stick is often the most effective way to achieve behavioural change, and G4S are to be commended for putting rehabilitation and reducing reoffending at the heart of their work.

The two issues identified as defective in the report must be tackled.

The issue with catering, producing food that is often cold, unappetising and the source of constant complaints – confirmed by the Inspectorate – must be a major focus now for the prison’s management; we have seen too many times how complaints about food can lead to serious unrest if the issue is not tackled effectively.

But by far the more serious issue is with the weaknesses identified with the approach to CSIP, which must be addressed as a matter of urgency. [Challenge, Support and Intervention Planning, is a system used to manage the most violent prisoners and support the most vulnerable prisoners in the system. Prisoners who are identified as the perpetrator of serious or repeated violence, or who are vulnerable due to being the victim of violence or bullying behaviour, are managed and intended to be supported on a plan with individualised targets and regular reviews.] 

My one point of caution would be that all the good work that is being achieved at this small unit at Parc risks being undone if the issue with CSIP is not addressed properly – and this takes on an even greater significance if, as seems likely at the end of their sentence, these young people are simply tossed back into the same toxic inner-city, high-crime, poor opportunity environments that they were first taken out of – but that is a societal issue for the Welsh and UK Governments as a whole to tackle, and in respect of which G4S to be fair can itself have little effect.

Read the Report

Children in Custody – Welcome signs of improvement but many still feel unsafe

Children in Custody 2017–18: An analysis of 12–18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experiences in secure training centres and young offender institutions

Signs of improvement in youth custody establishments have yet to translate into greater feelings of safety for those detained, according to new analysis of the perceptions of children in custody.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing the study of children held in 2017-18 in England and Wales, warned against complacency because of improvements seen in some recent inspections of secure training centres (STCs) and young offender institutions (YOIs).

Despite indications of improved behaviour, significant numbers of children in both types of establishment still said they had felt unsafe at some time. The figures were 34% for STCs and 40% in YOIs.

In February 2017, Mr Clarke warned the Minister for Victims, Youth and Family Justice that HM Inspectorate of Prisons could not then classify any STC or YOI as safe enough to hold children, because of high levels of violence.

This year (2017-18), Mr Clarke said, “there have been some encouraging signs of improvement in safety at some establishments, but history tells us that all too often early signs of improvement have not been sustained.

“A key factor in securing a safe environment for children in custody is finding positive ways to encourage good behaviour. During the year we published a thematic report on this subject, the key finding of which was that all effective behaviour management was underpinned by positive relationships between staff and children. Building those positive relationships is a key challenge for both STCs and YOIs, given the shortages of staff, their high turnover rates and, in too many establishments, very poor time out of cell for the children.”

Mr Clarke added: “It is notable that there has been no statistically significant shift in the perceptions of children about their treatment and conditions – either in STCs or YOIs. Too many children… (34% in STCs and 40% in YOIs) report having felt unsafe since coming into custody.”

The independent HMIP report was commissioned by the Youth Justice Board (YJB). Mr Clarke said the YJB and the recently created Youth Custody Service (YCS) within the prison service should fully understand a notable finding in the perceptions analysis. This is that significantly more (87%) children in STCs reported being treated respectfully by staff than the 64% of boys who did so in YOIs.

A total of 686 children, from a population in custody of just under 840, answered questions in a survey.

Key findings included:

  • 42% of children in STCs identified as being from a black or other minority ethnic background;
  • Over half of children (56%) in STCs reported that they had been physically restrained in the centre;
  • Nearly a third of children in STCs (30%) reported being victimised by other children by being shouted at through windows;
  • Over half (51%) of boys in YOIs identified as being from a black or minority ethnic background, the highest rate recorded in surveys of YOIs:
  • Half of children (50%) in YOIs reported that they had been physically restrained.

Mr Clarke said:

“I trust that the details of this report will prove useful to those whose responsibility it is to provide safe, respectful and purposeful custody for children. As we all know, the perceptions of children in custody, will, for them, be the reality of what is happening. That is why we should not allow the recent improvement in inspection findings to give rise to complacency.”

Read The Report

Children in Custody: Distance From Home – A Thematic Review.

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 16.23.59Placing children in custody miles away from their home affected how many family visits they received, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. It didn’t, however, have a significant impact on other experiences of custody and could help some boys keep away from gang influence, he added.

Today he published a report, The impact of distance from home on children in custody.

The independent review was commissioned by the Youth Justice Board (YJB). It pulls together views and data on the impact of distance from home on children in custody. The aims of the thematic were to:

 explore the impact of distance from home on aspects of daily life in custody for children, and

 explore the impact of distance from home on resettlement planning and outcomes on release.

The report draws on interviews with around 50 children and staff at two young offender institutions (YOIs) and one secure training centre (STC), and data provided by those establishments. It also uses data from surveys conducted at four YOIs holding 15–18-yearolds and two STCs, and recall data provided by the YJB.

Key findings.

 Children who were held further from home had fewer visits than those who were close to home. For each child included in our survey sample, analysis of data on visits revealed that those held further from home had significantly fewer visits from family members and friends, with cost and travel time cited as reasons for children not receiving visits. The impact of this was raised as a negative influence by children and their caseworkers during interviews. Most caseworkers and managers, when asked about the vulnerabilities of the children in their care, linked them to problems with family contact. Little was being done, bar a pilot of using Skype at one YOI, to mitigate this impact on the boys and girls concerned (see paragraphs 4.14–4.24).

 Analysis of data for 595 children showed that children who were further away from home received significantly fewer visits from professionals. This mirrored what children told Inspectors in interviews (see paragraphs 4.43–4.44).

 Planning for release and resettlement followed the same process irrespective of distance from home. Children saw advantages in being close to home when it came to their release and caseworkers described it as sometimes harder to put a suitable release package in place for those who were further away from home. Elements such as family mediation work and ‘through the gate work’ (continuation into the community of work begun in custody) were seen as more difficult when greater distances were involved. Family involvement and support post release was seen as a key element whenever there was a chance of this being available (see paragraphs 4.48–4.51).

 In the sample of cases looked at, distance from home had little impact on attendance by external partners at sentence planning or remand management reviews. There was good attendance by external youth offending team (YOT) workers regardless of distance and families attended half of the reviews for children who were closer to home, and slightly fewer for those who were far from home (see paragraphs 4.34–4.36).

 There was no association between distance from home and recall to detention following release. Analysis of release and recall data for a census of over 1,300 children subject to a detention and training order (DTO) who were released in England and Wales during 2013–14, showed no identifiable link between distance from home while in custody and likelihood of recall to custody post release (see paragraph 4.58).

 Survey data and interviews with children showed distance from home was not a predictor of whether a child had felt unsafe in their YOI/STC. It was of concern though that nearly half of children, regardless of their distance from home, had at some point felt unsafe while in their current YOI/STC (see paragraph 4.5). Similarly, distance from home was not a predictor of whether a child reported that they had experienced victimisation from staff or other children, considered that they were treated with respect by staff, or had been restrained (see paragraphs 4.6–4.12).

 Distance from home did not have a significant impact on the experiences of children in many areas of custodial life. The main exceptions to this were: visits from family, involvement of family in preparation for release and the involvement of external professionals (other than for sentence or remand planning reviews).

 Arriving late at the YOI/STC, which can make it more difficult for a child to settle on their first night in custody, was not uncommon and could be exacerbated by the distances some children had to travel to get to their YOI/STC. In our Transfers and Escorts5 thematic review, we reported on the scope to make greater use of ‘virtual courts’ that could reduce the need for children to make lengthy journeys for brief court appearances and transfers. We repeat that observation in this review.

 Boys in YOIs who were close to home reported more gang problems when they first arrived at their YOI than those who were far from home. Caseworkers saw benefits for some children in being away from gang influences, or an area where their offence had attracted local attention. One child pointed to the advantage of being away from previous influences and having the chance to mature, and other children interviewed saw advantages in being further from home. It was considered easier as you were not reminded of family all the time, and knowing what was ‘on the other side of the fence’ could be a source of frustration for some. That young people who reported gang problems were placed closer to home than those who did not report such problems may be due to the geographical locations of YOIs and those young people involved in gangs, rather than the distances involved (see paragraphs 4.12 and 4.29).

The Report recommends

More imaginative solutions and flexibility should be used to mitigate the current lack of visits for children whose family find it hard to visit, whether due to distance or other factors.

 Children should be provided with additional phone calls to a parent/carer in place of unused visit entitlements.

 There should be greater use of new technologies to enable children in custody to have the levels of contact they need with external professionals who will be working with them post release, and to enable relevant ‘through the gate’ work to commence while in custody.

 Age appropriate information should be available in all courts so children who are committed to custody can know before they leave the court where in England or Wales they are going, where this is in relation to their home and what the YOI/STC offers.

 Children should routinely be given the opportunity to discuss how they feel about their distance from home and how any negative impacts they are experiencing can be mitigated.

 Available data should be used on a regular basis to determine any negative impacts on children who are placed far from home, particularly in relation to recall and reoffending, and to identify any emerging patterns or trends.

 There should be increased use of video-enabled court hearings, when appropriate, while ensuring there are no adverse consequences for the child or criminal justice procedures. Safeguards should ensure that the child is able to appropriately consult with their solicitor prior to their hearing. (Repeated recommendation from escorts thematic.)

After publication of the Report Peter Clarke said:

“It was reassuring to find that being placed in custody far from home was not a disadvantage to children in many respects. The negative impact on family ties and the implications this has for successful resettlement and turning children away from crime cannot, though, be ignored.”

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales welcomed the report and called for ‘thinking outside the box’.

Mr Leech said: “This report is welcome in that it revisits a very important issue, but did we really need a Thematic Review to tell us long distance and fewer visits are inextricably inter-linked?

“It has long been established that family contact is crucial to rehabilitation, the Inspectorate’s own 2014 report on resettlement of adults makes this point, and the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty include that ‘detention facilities for juveniles should be decentralised and of such size as to facilitate access and contact between the juveniles and their families.’

“The point that increased distance from home can reduce gang influence may well be a welcome by-product, but keeping children far from home ought to be the exception not the rule; the costs in terms of rehabilitation far outweigh any benefits.

“A much reduced YOI Estate inevitably means distance from home will increase, fewer visits will take place, and therefore it is surely time to start thinking outside the box and use modern technology, such as Skype, to facilitate increased family and professional face-to-face visits where distance from home reduces or often prevents physical visits from taking place at all – and not just for children, although they should perhaps be the first to benefit, but across the prison estate nationally.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMYOI Werrington – Safety concerns but improvements in education and resettlement

Werrington

Safety had deteriorated at HMYOI Werrington, but it was positive in other areas, said Martin Lomas, Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the young offender institution near Stoke-on-Trent.

HMYOI Werrington can hold up to 142 boys aged between 15 and 18. At the time of the inspection, Werrington was in the early stages of implementing the extended education day for young people and was doing so with a largely new staff and management group. There are now fewer children in custody and Werrington, like other similar establishments, holds some boys who are very difficult to manage, but with the problem of limited options regarding accommodation. These factors had contributed to a concerning deterioration in safety, and the perception of safety. In contrast, the establishment had done well to maintain positive findings in the areas of respect, purposeful activity and resettlement.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • an impressive reception area and a caring approach to the delivery of first night procedures creased a positive early experience for most boys;
  • efforts to improve living accommodation meant that this was now reasonable for most;
  • relationships with specialist staff such as youth workers, teachers and offender supervisors were strong and health care provision was very good;
  • the senior management team were beginning to find their feet and were clearly committed and enthusiastic;
  • the new extended education day timetable had increased time out of cell for most boys and it was better than inspectors see at other similar establishments;
  • leadership and management of learning, skills and work were good and levels of achievement were high;
  • resettlement work continued to be a strength and the establishment was working with partners in the community on accommodation for boys on release; and
  • visits and work with families of offenders demonstrated care and a real understanding of the anxieties faced by families when young people are imprisoned.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

high levels of violence and significant evidence of bullying explained why one in four boys reported feeling unsafe at the time of the inspection and half said that they had been victimised by other boys;

  • there were some good formal structures to support the most vulnerable, but incidences of self-harm and the numbers subject to case management for those at risk of suicide or self-harm (ACCT) were still too high;
  • the management of poor behaviour was a weakness, as low-level anti-social behaviour sometimes went unchallenged by staff, while the few incentives to behave really well were regularly withdrawn to accommodate the poorly behaved and the vulnerable; and
  • equality and diversity work was weak: little had been done to understand why the 50% of the population who were Muslim and/or from a black and minority ethnic background held such negative perceptions and consultation in general was ineffective.

Martin Lomas said:

“While we were greatly concerned about the deficiencies in the management of safety at Werrington, we found managers and staff to be receptive to our findings and were confident that they would make concerted efforts to make the establishment safer. Their success in maintaining positive outcomes in our other tests of a healthy prison, despite some significant challenges, was commendable.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

“As the inspector noted, Werrington manages an increasingly complex group of boys. Since the inspection staff numbers have increased; a new system to challenge bullying and violence has been implemented, and a new culture of positive reward for good behaviour introduced.

“Tackling violence and providing a safe environment remains the Governor’s biggest challenge and top priority and work will continue to improve standards even further.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 2 March 2016 at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

Little or no progress at all in moving young offenders to adult probation services say Inspectors

Young-offendersjLittle progress has been made in improving the preparation and planning for young people to move from youth offending services to adult probation services and this can affect their rehabilitation, said Alan MacDonald, Assistant Chief Inspector of Probation.

Today HM Inspectorate of Probation published the report of an inspection of transition arrangements.

Today’s report, Transition Arrangements: a follow-up inspection, sought to establish how far the recommendations from a 2012 joint report, Transitions: An inspection of the transitions arrangements from youth to adult services in the criminal justice system had been implemented and whether practice had improved. HMI Probation inspectors visited six areas and spoke to staff from Youth Offending Teams, Community Rehabilitation Companies and the National Probation Service, conducting 50 interviews. Despite some examples of effective practice, inspectors noted an overall lack of progress by various local and national bodies in implementing its recommendations.

There are various different orders and sentences which can be imposed on a young person. Some, such as referral orders, reparation orders or detention and training orders, do not get transferred to the adult world when a person reaches the age of 18. Some youth rehabilitation orders can be transferred once specific requirements have been completed, and other orders should be transferred, as well as long-term custodial sentences.

Inspectors found that:

  • in the community, some young people were not identified as eligible for transfer and, in those cases which were identified, transfer was often undertaken as a purely procedural task;
  • young people were not as informed or involved as they should have been;
  • there was insufficient timely sharing of information between youth and adult services to enable sentence plans to be delivered without interruption; and
  • in custody, insufficient forward planning and communication led to an interruption in sentence planning and delivery of interventions after young people had transferred to an over-18 young offender institution or prison.

Inspectors made eight recommendations in the 2012 report. This report recommends to the Youth Justice Board, Youth Offending Team Management Boards, the National Offender Management Service, the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies that those original recommendations are followed.

Alan MacDonald said:

“The transfer from the youth to adult world is a challenging time for any individual, including those involved in the criminal justice system. Failure to plan a smooth and effective transfer places a barrier to compliance and rehabilitation in young people’s lives.

“We found some examples of effective practice. However, the majority of cases had not been identified as possible transfer cases. There was no consistency across the areas we inspected. In many cases there was little or no preparation, a failure to use existing information and a lack of planning. Young people entered the adult service unprepared and uninformed of the expectations they faced. We believe that young people are less likely to reoffend if they receive well-planned, uninterrupted supervision moving from Youth Offending Teams to adult probation providers.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Probation website from 19 January at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation

Seven G4S Officers Suspended at Young Offender Institution After Secret Filming

medwaystcSeven members of staff at a facility for young offenders run by security group G4S have been suspended amid allegations of abuse and mistreatment of youngsters.

Police in Kent are also understood to have been alerted to the claims of “unnecessary use of force and the use of improper language” at Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester.

It has been reported that staff punched and slapped some teenagers held at the facility and also allegedly boasted about using inappropriate techniques to restrain youngsters.

The centre, managed by G4S in co-operation with the Youth Justice Board since it opened in 1998, is a 76-bed facility for young offenders aged from 12 to 18.

The suspensions announced by G4S come after undercover filming by the BBC’s Panorama programme, which has yet to be aired.

The Times reported that it is alleged staff punched a youngster in the ribs and another was slapped several times on the head.

Staff were also alleged to have pressed heavily on the necks of young people, and staff tried to hide their actions by ensuring they were beneath CCTV cameras or in areas not covered by them.

G4S said it has referred the “serious allegations of inappropriate staff conduct” to Medway’s local authority designated officer, the YJB and the Ministry of Justice as Kent Police confirmed it was investigating.

Paul Cook, managing director of G4S children’s services in the UK, said: “I’m extremely shocked and appalled at the allegations that were presented to us, which clearly have no place in our business or any institution responsible for looking after young people.

“We received the allegations from Panorama to our press team on December 30, and all I have are written allegations at this time.”

CCTV has been secured relating to the dates given by Panorama, said Mr Cook, adding that they were treating the allegations with “utmost gravity”.

The YJB has suspended the placement of new youngsters at the facility, which would be “kept under review”, he went on.

Kent Police said in a statement: “Following a referral from the Medway local authority designated officer, Kent Police is investigating allegations that have been made regarding reports of abusive behaviour (physical and verbal) at a secure training facility in Medway.

“All necessary safeguarding measures have been taken and enquiries are ongoing.”

Youth Justice Board chief executive Lin Hinnigan said “immediate steps” were taken to safeguard those who are at the facility.

She said: “We have increased our own monitoring activity and the presence of our independent advocacy service, delivered by Barnardo’s. All of the staff identified in the allegations have been suspended by G4S, which runs the STC.

“Kent Police are reviewing each alleged incident and an investigation is under way. We are working closely with them and the other agencies involved, so it is not appropriate for us to comment further on the allegations.”

Four prisoners injured after riot at young offender institution

swinfen-hallFour prisoners have been injured in an incident at a young offenders prison in Staffordshire.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said specially trained officers were sent in to deal with “an incident of indiscipline” at HMP & YOI Swinfen Hall near Lichfield.

The disturbance involved a single wing of the jail.

During the fracas four prisoners received minor injuries but no prison officers were hurt.

A small fire on the wing was dealt with by firefighters.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Specially trained prison officers dealt with an incident of indiscipline at YOI Swinfen Hall on Thursday.

“The incident was resolved and the prison is operating as normal.”

Notes: Following factual information about HMP / YOI Swinfen Hall is taken from The Prisons Handbook 2015

Task of the establishment: Young adult male long-term training and adult male category C prison.
Prison status: Public
Region: West Midlands
Number held: 585
Certified normal accommodation: 604, reduced to 544 for Crown Premises Inspection Group (CPIG) work.
Operational capacity: 654, reduced to 594 for CPIG work (G wing closure)
Date of last full inspection: 2014
Brief history
Swinfen Hall opened as a borstal in 1963 and, following a short period as a youth custody centre, in
1988-89 it became a long-term closed young offender institution. Two new wings were built in 1998,
increasing the capacity to 320 places. The establishment has gone through a major expansion
programme that has increased prisoner places from 320 to 654. It takes young men aged between 18
and 25 serving 3.5 years up to and including life.
Short description of residential units
Wing Number held
A 64
B 60 – induction / first night
C 60
D 64
E 68
F 90
G 90
I 82
J 80
Care and separation unit (segregation) 17
Name of governor: Teresa Clarke
Escort contractor: GEOAmey
Health service provider: Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust

Learning and skills providers: Milton Keynes College
Bournville College South and City College Birmingham
Quality Transport Training N-ergy
South Staffordshire Library
Shannon Trust Reading Plan
Independent Monitoring Board chair: Jane Calloway

Purchase The Prisons Handbook 2015 here

Teenager found dead in jail cell

cookhamwood

A teenage boy has been found dead at a jail near Rochester criticised last year for high levels of violence and a significant use of weapons by inmates.

The boy was discovered unresponsive in his cell at Cookham Wood Young Offenders’ Institution at around 6.40am on Saturday.

The Youth Justice Board said: “The cause of death will be formally determined by inquest but, at the present time, we have no indication that the young person took their own life or that the circumstances were suspicious.”

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Staff attempted resuscitation and paramedics attended but he was pronounced dead at approximately 8am. His next of kin have been informed.

“Every death in custody is a tragedy and we always seek to improve our procedures for caring for prisoners, including young offenders, where possible.”

Significant use of weapons by inmates and “high and rising” levels of violence at the jail were revealed in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) published in October.

Some 35 weapons were found in a lockdown, and 169 acts of violence were recorded during the six months before the inspection, up from 130 at the previous inspection.

The Howard League for Penal Reform said at the time that assaults and serious injuries had “become the norm” at the jail and cuts had pushed the prison system to “breaking point”.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) said the governor was “actively tackling” violence in the jail, staff were being given extra training in behaviour management and use of force had been cut.

Built in the 1970s, Cookham Wood YOI holds up to 131 15 to 18-year-olds who have been sentenced or are on remand.

The Prison Service said: “As with all deaths in custody there will be an investigation by the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.

“Additionally, as he was under the age of 18, there will be a serious case review commissioned by the local safeguarding board.”

A spokesman for the Youth Justice Board said: “We offer our condolences to the family for their tragic loss.

“The relevant agencies are already undertaking inquiries into the circumstances and cause of death, and we want to ensure that any findings are acted on as they arise.”

Teen Terrorist Jailed Over Grooming

Kazi Islam
Kazi Islam

A teenage terrorist has been sentenced to eight years for grooming a young man with learning difficulties to carry out a Lee Rigby copycat killing.

Kazi Islam, 19, tried to persuade 19-year-old Harry Thomas to buy the ingredients for a pipe bomb and to attack one or more soldiers with a kitchen knife or meat cleaver on his command. He encouraged the older youth to start calling himself Haroon instead of Harry and attempted to radicalise him with stories of innocent children murdered by military forces.

But Islam’s schemes were foiled when Mr Thomas failed to buy any of the right ingredients for a bomb and let slip to “a few friends” what they were up to.

The defendant, who will serve his sentence in a young offenders institute, denied wrongdoing, saying that he only talked to Mr Thomas about getting the components for a bomb as an “experiment” in radicalisation.

But following the trial at the Old Bailey, Islam, of Meanley Road, Newham, east London, was found guilty of engaging in the preparation of terrorist acts.

Sentencing, judge Richard Marks QC told him that his behaviour towards Mr Thomas, who suffered from Aspergers syndrome and ADHD, was an aggravating feature.

He said: “Even on your own account, that you knew he was an extremely vulnerable young man, your treatment of him was as callous as it was manipulative.”