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.”

G4S Young Offenders: “degrading and racist treatment” say Inspectors

The Prisons Handbook 2015 – out now  /  Home Page  /  Converse Prison Newspaper

 

rainsbrook

Young offenders at a secure centre near Rugby were subjected to degrading treatment and racist comments and were cared for by staff who were under the influence of drugs, a damning Ofsted report has found.

Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC) has been declared inadequate by the watchdog, after inspectors found a catalogue of failings including “serious incidents of gross misconduct” by some workers.

In some cases, there were delays in young people receiving vital medical treatment, Ofsted said, while nurses did not routinely attended promptly when an offender was being restrained.

There was also a high number of assaults recorded at Rainsbrook, which is run by G4S, over a six-month period, and youngsters were more likely to say that they had felt threatened by other young people or experienced insulting comments than at other STCs.

In a statement, G4S said it recognised that incidents highlighted by inspectors were “completely unacceptable” and insisted it took swift action at the time.

Rainsbrook is one of three STCs across the country and caters to a maximum 87 12 to 18-year-olds who have been given a custodial sentence or are on remand.

Ofsted found a “mixed picture” in how young offenders at the centre were cared for and helped to improve their behaviour.

“Since the last inspection there have been serious incidents of gross misconduct by staff, including some who were in positions of leadership,” inspectors concluded.

“Poor staff behaviour has led to some young people being subject to degrading treatment, racist comments, and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs. A finding of contraband DVDs in the centre is likely to be attributable to staff smuggling these in and raises a concern that young people were allowed to view inappropriate material they should not have been.

“It also raises a concern that some staff may have colluded with young people to elicit compliance by wholly inappropriate means. Senior managers are unable to reassure inspectors that this is not the case.”

G4S said that the DVDs were certificate 15 discs.

The report says that poor care was made worse by “poor decision making by senior managers”, which led to “delays in young people receiving essential medical diagnosis and treatment”.

“On a number of occasions clear clinical advice was overruled by non-health qualified senior managers. Because of this one young person did not receive treatment for a fracture for approximately 15 hours.”

It later said it was a “serious shortfall” that nurses did not routinely attend restraints promptly to ensure the safety and welfare of youngsters

More than half of offenders at the centre surveyed by Ofsted (56%) said they had faced insulting remarks from other young people, with a further 28% saying they had felt intimidated and threatened at some point.

During the six months before the inspection, there was an average of eight assaults a month – considered high – as well as 27 fights across the same six-month period.

Inspectors did find that while staff were given advice, disciplined or dismissed in some cases, in a few there were “unacceptable and inexplicable delays” in removing staff pending further investigation or an outcome that was too lenient.

“Many members of staff including night staff on the residential units have detailed knowledge about the young people in their care and show a commitment towards their welfare,” the report later says.

“However, these positive relationships have to be seen in the context of a centre where young people have experienced several serious incidents of unacceptable staff behaviour since the previous inspection. This includes collusion with young people in the settling of debts, poor application of restraint, drug taking and racism.”

Ofsted did find that education at Rainsbrook is good, with offenders enjoying learning.

A G4S spokesman said: “This is an extremely disappointing report for everyone connected with Rainsbrook and it’s the first time in 16 years that the centre has been found by any inspecting body to be less than ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

“We recognise that the incidents highlighted by inspectors were completely unacceptable and took swift action at the time, in discussion with the Youth Justice Board (YJB).”

He added that the YJB has expressed confidence in the firm’s plan to address concerns.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: “Overall, we were very concerned about what we found at Rainsbrook. There had been a number of incidents that caused distress and humiliation to the young people involved. Some of those incidents included staff in leadership roles and there was not a sufficiently robust response by managers to some of the cases.”

A G4S spokesman insisted that children are always sent out of the centre if there is an indication that they require treatment not provided by the NHS team on site.

He added: “All those involved in the incidents of poor care highlighted in the report have already been subject to disciplinary action and are no longer working at the centre.”

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Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: “Overall, we were very concerned about what we found at Rainsbrook. There had been a number of incidents that caused distress and humiliation to the young people involved. Some of those incidents included staff in leadership roles and there was not a sufficiently robust response by managers to some of the cases.”

A G4S spokesman insisted that children are always sent out of the centre if there is an indication that they require treatment not provided by the NHS team on site.

He added: “All those involved in the incidents of poor care highlighted in the report have already been subject to disciplinary action and are no longer working at the centre.”

INQUEST response to the YJB Child Deaths Report

INQUEST Charitable Trust
INQUEST Charitable Trust

INQUEST response to Youth Justice Board report on deaths of children in custody

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“Whilst this report offers some insight into the Board’s learning from child deaths, it can be no substitute for a wider review.

“INQUEST’s work on the deaths of children shows the same issues of concern repeat themselves with depressing regularity. This demonstrates that the current mechanisms, including the YJB, are not preventing deaths of children.

“And recent government proposals relating to restraint and secure colleges for children also call into question the extent of the impact the YJB’s learning is having on policy-making.

“A short report cannot be a substitute for a full, holistic, independent review of child deaths in custody that encompasses all findings and recommendations, and examines the wider public health and welfare issues and a child’s journey into the prison system.  The government must extend the remit of the inquiry it is commissioning into the deaths of 18-24 year olds in prison to include children.”

Notes to editors:

1.  The YJB report can be accessed here: http://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/monitoring-performance/serious-incidents

2.  The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill can be accessed here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/criminaljusticeandcourts.html

3. INQUEST’s briefing on the need for an independent review of the deaths of children and young people can be accessed here  

For further information, please contact Hannah Ward, INQUEST Communications Manager on 020 7263 1111 / 07972 492 230.

INQUEST provides a general telephone advice, support and information service to any bereaved person facing an inquest and a free, in-depth complex casework service on deaths in custody/state detention or involving state agents and works on other cases that also engage article 2 of the ECHR and/or raise wider issues of state and corporate accountability. INQUEST’s policy and parliamentary work is informed by its casework and we work to ensure that the collective experiences of bereaved people underpin that work. Its overall aim is to secure an investigative process that treats bereaved families with dignity and respect; ensures accountability and disseminates the lessons learned from the investigation process in order to prevent further deaths occurring.

Please refer to INQUEST the organisation in all capital letters in order to distinguish it from the legal hearing.

YJB Child Deaths In Custody – Lessons Learnt Report published

yjb-dic-p1

The YJB’s report Deaths of Children in Custody: Action Taken, Lessons Learnt explains the actions taken by the YJB in response to recommendations made by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, coroners and Serious Case Reviews, following the deaths of children in custody since 2000. It also identifies the work that still needs to be undertaken to ensure that when children must be held in custody, it is in a safe environment which protects them from harm.

HMYOI Wetherby Keppel Unit – High standards of care in well run facility

A child in the Keppel Unit at Wetherby YOI
A child in the Keppel Unit at Wetherby YOI

The Keppel Unit at HMYOI Wetherby was extremely well run and provided a model for other specialist units for young people, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the special unit at the young offender institution in West Yorkshire.

HMYOI Wetherby’s Keppel Unit, which opened in 2008, is designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for some of the most challenging and vulnerable young people in the country whose needs cannot be met in the mainstream prison system. It is the only unit of its kind in the secure estate. This was its third inspection. Each time inspectors have reported positively about the conditions and the way young people were being treated. On this inspection, inspectors found that the positive culture and work practices had developed to a higher level and now provided a model of how a specialist unit should be run.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • high quality care was delivered in an environment where young people had the chance to settle and the opportunity to thrive;
  • all young people had an up-to-date care plan which ensured that their needs were under constant review;
  • levels of self-harm remained a concern but those at risk were well supported;
  • relationships between staff and young people were very good and staff intervened quickly to prevent bullying and fights from escalating;
  • leadership of the unit was strong and consistent, helping staff from different disciplines to work well as a team;
  • the unit was well designed, which helped to create a calm atmosphere;
  • the education department offered a supportive environment and poor behaviour was dealt with effectively;
  • time out of cell was adequate and young people had regular time in the open air; and
  • progress had been made in co-ordinating resettlement work and there was now greater involvement by external partners in safeguarding and child protection arrangements.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • removal from the unit was still used as a punishment and routine strip searching still took place with force sometimes used to gain compliance; and
  • many young people struggled to maintain regular contact with their families, a key element of support working towards and on release, due to the distance they were held from home.

Nick Hardwick said:

“In the five years since its inception a positive ethos has been established and sustained within the Keppel unit and good work practices have become embedded. Despite their vulnerability, young people were provided with a high standard of care within a well-run facility. Our findings reflect the positive reaction from most young people and overall, the outcomes available were having a constructive and positive influence on some otherwise difficult young people. The secure estate has much to learn from the positive way the Keppel unit has been developed over recent years.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive Officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), said:

“I am pleased that the Chief Inspector has recognised the excellent work being undertaken at the Keppel Unit.

“Staff look after some very challenging young people with highly complex needs, and the care they provide is outstanding. They can be very proud of this very positive report.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/prison-and-yoi/wetherby

Children and Young People in Custody – Some Improvements, Some Concerns

Nick Hardwick Chief Inspector of Prisons
Nick Hardwick
Chief Inspector of Prisons

Children and Young People in Custody – Some Improvements, Some Concerns
Most young people’s perceptions of their treatment and conditions in custody had improved but there were indications that establishments were struggling to manage some of the most challenging or vulnerable, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing two thematic reports on the results of surveys of children and young people in custody.

The first report, Children and Young People in Custody 2012-13: an analysis of the experiences of 15-18-year-olds in prison, published jointly with the Youth Justice Board (YJB), sets out how young people describe their own experience of imprisonment in a young offender institution (YOI).

Since 2011-12, the numbers of young people aged 18 and under in custody dropped by just over 28% to 1,420 in March 2013. Those held in YOIs made up the majority of those in custody and there was a drop of 32% during the reporting period, with 1,044 young men and women held in March 2013. This period saw the decommissioning of a further 360 places by re-roling HMYOI Ashfield into a category C prison for male adults. In July 2013, the decision was taken to decommission the remaining female YOI units and hold all young women in secure training centres (STCs) and secure children’s homes (SCHs). At the time these reports were prepared, the government was considering plans for major changes to youth custody arrangements.

The surveys demonstrate variations in young people’s perceptions in different establishments that reflect, in part, differences in their size and functions. However, the overall picture for young men this year was of improvement in their perceptions across almost all areas of life in custody. It is not possible to definitively explain this improvement, but improved treatment and conditions may reflect the reduced population held in many YOIs. In this reporting period, there were higher proportions of sentenced young men and young men aged 18 than in the previous year, perhaps reflecting a more stable and mature population than previously.  However, the vulnerability of many of the young men held is clear.

The report also found that:

  • a third of young men had been in local authority care and almost nine out of ten had been excluded from school;
  • 74% of young men said most staff treated them with respect compared with 64% in 2011-12;
  • 90% of young men said they wanted to stop offending but a higher proportion than last year thought they would have problems getting a job on release;
  • 51% felt they had done something in the establishment that would make them less likely to offend in the future, compared with 45% in 2011-12;
  • the population of young men who said they were from a black and minority ethnic background remained stable at 45%;
  • the population of young men who described themselves as Muslim has remained stable at 22% after considerable increase from 13% in 2009-10 to 21% in 2011-12;
  • the number of young women  held is very small and reduced further in 2012-13; and
  • there was improvement in the proportion of young women reporting one or more visits per week

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said:

“Three very clear messages are apparent from this year’s survey findings. First, most young people say they have been better able to navigate the experience of custody itself than in the past. Second, there are significant minorities of young people for whom this is not true and the variation across establishments is too wide. It is in these exceptions that the greatest risks lie. Third, young people may be generally able to manage the experience of custody better but they are more anxious about how they will manage after release. They want to get a job and stay out of trouble but too many do not know where to go to get the help they need.”

In April 2012, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission began joint inspections of STCs. The second report, Children and Young People in Custody 2012-13: an analysis of 12–18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experience in secure training centres is the first annual summary of children and young people’s experience of STCs.

Generally most young people were positive about their treatment and conditions in which they were held. However, in some important areas a sizeable minority of young people reported negatively and the range of some results across establishments is concerning.

The report found that:

  • most young people felt safe, felt that staff treated them with respect and that the education they had received would help them;
  • 16% of children and young people said they would have no-one to turn to if they had a problem;
  • 30% said they had been physically restrained by staff;
  • 44% of young people said they were from a black or minority ethnic background and 19% said they had a disability.

In some important areas, young people from all minority groups reported different experiences from the population as a whole. More work needs to be done to understand the over-representation of these minority groups and what lies behind the differences in their perceived experiences. The numbers of young people who said they were Muslims or from a Gypsy, Romany or Traveller background (21% and 12% respectively) varied substantially from statistical data held by the centre. This requires further investigation.

Nick Hardwick said:

“All the young people held in STCs are children and have the same fundamental rights as other children – to be safe from harm, educated, healthy, treated fairly and heard. Most of the young people surveyed for this report tell us that is the case, but a significant minority say that in important areas, that is not so. The planned changes to the youth custody estate need to take careful account of what young people identify as the strengths and weaknesses of the current provision.”

Lin Hinnigan, Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board, said:

“The Youth Justice Board (YJB) commissions these annual reports to listen to the voices of children and young people in custody, to take forward their concerns and to understand how we can improve their experiences

“This year, the overall improved results show that much good work already goes on in custody to support some of the most vulnerable, challenging and troubled young people in society.

“However, we remain concerned about the significant minority of young people, whose experiences are less positive than others, including those from minority ethnic backgrounds or those who are particularly vulnerable for other reasons. We will continue to work with providers to improve the experience of these young people.

“The Youth Justice Board is also committed to improving resettlement when young people leave custody in order to improve their life chances and to reduce reoffending.”

A copy of the both reports can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 10 December 2013 at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/thematic-research.htm

 

HMP and YOI Ashfield – high levels of violence and use of force by staff

nickhardwick

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons,Nick Hardwick, above, in a report on Ashield Young Offender Institution published today says:

In January 2013, the Justice Secretary announced plans to close HMYOI Ashfield and re-role it as an adult prison. The inspectorate had plans to conduct an unannounced inspection of the establishment in February 2013. We decided to proceed with the inspection to ensure that the young people who continued to be held there were held safely and decently during the transition, and that plans in place to ensure their move to another establishment or release were well managed.
We focused the inspection on areas of greatest concern and produced this truncated report more quickly than usual so it could be of use before the establishment closed. Because we did not look at every area of the establishment, we have not graded it against each healthy prison test, as is our normal practice. As usual, we gave immediate, detailed feedback to the establishment and Youth Justice Board (YJB) at the end of the inspection.
At the time of the inspection, the establishment was just one-third full and held 123 young people, most of whom were aged 16 or 17. This compared with a population of 332 at the time of our last inspection, and an average of 237 in 2012. Ashfield had an operational capacity of 360.
Our concerns about safety appeared to have been justified. Despite the reduction in numbers held, there had been a sharp increase in self-harm incidents since the closure announcement. The number of formal disciplinary proceedings or adjudications was high, and fights and assaults accounted for two-thirds of the charges laid. The highest number of adjudications per 100 of the population was in January 2013. Levels of violence were high. There were 351 fights and 377 assaults in 2012 and staff told us there had been an increase in the overall number of violent incidents since the closure announcement. In the 12 months to January 2013, there had been 43 serious fights, of which 37 had resulted in serious injury and six in minor injury. Five staff had been assaulted in the same period. Use of force by staff was also high in 2012 and two boys had suffered broken bones following staff use of force.
As at other young offender institutions (YOIs), young people were routinely strip-searched when they entered or left reception. Of 3,773 such searches over the last 12 months, just one had resulted in a find.
Despite the levels of violence, young people did not tell us they did not feel safe. We were also pleased that the segregation unit had been closed since our last inspection, and there were some good systems to address the particularly poor behaviour of some young people.
The environment was reasonable, although needing some attention. Young people could have telephones in their cells, which was a good initiative. Relationships between staff and the young people were good. We were impressed by the way in which staff put their own anxieties about the change aside and did not let this affect their dealings with the young people. Health care was good.
Young people had good access to education and training. However, with the rundown of the establishment it was increasingly difficult to motivate the young people and there was a concern that provision for those transferring elsewhere would not be effectively linked to the work they had done at Ashfield.
During the course of the inspection, we were particularly concerned about resettlement and transition planning. There was a lack of effective joint strategic planning between the YJB and Ashfield. Poor communication between the interested parties was causing widespread confusion. Young people were becoming increasingly agitated because they did not understand what was happening. Some services would be discontinued before all young people had left Ashfield. Overall, we were not confident that the best interests of the young person were always considered.
We have reported our concern about high levels of violence at a number of recent inspections of YOIs holding children and young people. At Ashfield too, young people’s safety was compromised because they were exposed to unacceptable levels of violence – and there is some evidence the situation has deteriorated since the closure decision was announced. Planning for the closure itself was not effectively coordinated between the YJB and Ashfield, and the needs of individual young people were not carefully considered. The anxiety and uncertainty this created may well have contributed to the tension at the establishment. It certainly means that young people are not being adequately prepared for transfer or release. The establishment and the YJB will need to work effectively together, not just to improve the situation but also to ensure it does not deteriorate further.