HMYOI WETHERBY & KEPPEL – Reasonably good or better in all inspection assessments

HMYOI Wetherby – a young offender institution (YOI) in Yorkshire, including the specialist Keppel unit for the most challenging children – continued to be a well-led establishment, inspectors found.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said that in 2018 inspectors had “found an institution that was progressing well, and was achieving reasonably good or better outcomes in nearly all the healthy prison tests we assessed.”

The inspection in March 2019 was equally good. Indeed, Mr Clarke said, “safety had improved on the Wetherby side of the institution to the extent that all eight of our assessments (four each for Wetherby and Keppel) were now at least reasonably good or better.

“Keppel in particular should be commended for the good outcomes it was achieving for some very vulnerable and challenging children.”

Click to Enlarge

Levels of self-harm were comparable with other YOIs but higher on Keppel and reflected the vulnerabilities of the children on the unit. The care children in self-harm crisis received was generally well integrated and very good, though there was too-frequent use of strip clothing with seemingly insufficient justification.

The amount of violence in Wetherby had fallen slightly and was now lower than comparable prisons, with some good robust initiatives to hopefully reduce it further.

“There were also several schemes in place to incentivise young people but they were undermined by too great an emphasis on punishment over reward.” Use of force by staff remained high, Mr Clarke added, “and although it was now better supervised, in our view there needed to be greater evidence of de-escalation and a further reduction in last-resort, pain-inducing techniques.”

Relationships between staff and young people remained a real strength of the institution. Staff expressed pride in their work and knew the children well. Children also spoke positively about the influence of the Governor. Inspectors identified as good practice the issuing of a free MP3 player with a recording of the induction so new arrivals could learn about the establishment in their own time.

Time out of cell had improved since 2018 and PE provision was very good. The delivery of learning and skills was well led, and priority had been given to maintaining high levels of attendance. Across both sites there was enough activity for all. Ofsted inspectors judged the overall effectiveness of learning and skills to be ‘good’.

Both Wetherby and Keppel had up-to-date strategies to reduce reoffending and resettlement needs were supported by some good casework. Public protection measures were effective.

Mr Clarke said:

“Overall Wetherby continues to be a well-led institution, run by a confident staff group delivering useful outcomes for children. We observed considerable initiative and energy and a very evident commitment to ongoing improvement.   We have made a small number of recommendations which we hope will assist this process.”

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

“It is extremely encouraging that Wetherby and Keppel have improved on safety and significantly reduced violence given they are managing a very vulnerable and challenging group of young people. I’d like to reiterate the comments made by the Chief Inspector and thank the governor and his team for their commendable work which has had such a positive influence on these children’s lives.”

Read the Report

HMYOI Feltham Children’s Unit: Deterioration in Safety and Care after Period of Drift

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Safety and care in the children’s unit at HMYOI Feltham A in west London were found in 2019 to have deteriorated over the year since the previous inspection.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said the young offender institution appeared to have suffered some “drift” during a period without a governor.

Click to Enlarge

Mr Clarke said that in 2018 inspectors “reported on a much-improved institution where good leadership had resulted in outcomes across three of our healthy prison tests – safety, care and resettlement – being reasonably good.

“More needed to be done to improve purposeful activity and we cautioned that any loss of leadership focus could expose the fragilities, which at the time we felt characterised some of the improvements we had observed. In light of the clear warning in our last report, it was disappointing to be told that… there had been an interregnum when Feltham had been left without a governor for a period of five months.

“A new governor was now in post and beginning to stabilise the establishment, but it was evident to us that there had been a degree of drift resulting in deteriorating outcomes, notably in safety and care.”

Feltham A was now not safe enough. There was a significant increase in the number of children self-harming. “The care experienced by those in need was also reasonably good, although it would have been better if such children were not locked up, often alone, for extended periods.”

In the inspection survey, some 13% of children said they currently felt unsafe and levels of violence had increased significantly since 2018. In the six months to the 2019 inspection there were 230 incidents of violence, a return to the high levels reported in 2017. Initiatives to reduce violence existed, but needed to be applied with more rigour and coordination, Mr Clarke said. Inspectors noted that not enough had been done to identify the reasons behind the increase in violence.

“Similarly, a comprehensive behaviour management strategy had been formulated, but it was applied inconsistently.” Operational staff “were neither setting ambitious standards nor sufficiently challenging antisocial behaviour.”

The application of ‘keep-apart protocols’, designed to separate individuals or gangs who were perceived as a threat to one another, had become all-consuming, inspectors found. “We understood the over-riding need to keep children safe from one another, but such arrangements were having an impact on all aspects of the regime, limiting opportunities for children to make any progress. The prison needed to rethink this approach and develop new strategies for conflict resolution.”

Nearly two-thirds of children said they had been physically restrained and the use of force by staff had increased. Mr Clarke added: “Oversight and scrutiny were, however, lacking and we found evidence of poor practice, including the use of pain-inducing techniques, that had not been accounted for.”

Too few children felt respected by staff and many suggested they felt victimised. Inspectors saw patient and caring encounters, but found that many staff were too preoccupied with keeping children apart to be able to develop trusting relationships. Nearly half of children said they had no one to turn to for help. “The residential environment had deteriorated and we could best describe many cells as spartan,” Mr Clarke added. Inspectors found 26% of children locked in their cells during the working day, a situation that was worse than last year and overall very poor. Only around a third of children could shower every day.

However, there was evidence of real improvements to the education and training curriculum and to the management of teachers. Public protection arrangements were managed well, but offending behaviour interventions had been limited by staff shortages and by the imposition of the ‘keep-apart’ requirements.

Overall, Mr Clarke said: “Feltham is a high profile and challenging institution, and the decline in standards since the last inspection was disappointing. However, we were impressed by the new governor’s commitment to the institution and her grasp of the issues that need attention.”

The Chief Inspector added: “Because of our findings in the January 2019 inspection of Feltham A – and further concerns based on information from a number of sources – we have informed HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) that we will return to Feltham in the week commencing 8 July 2019 to carry out a survey, which will be followed by a full inspection starting on 15 July. This full, announced inspection will cover the whole establishment – both the Feltham A children’s unit and Feltham B, holding 18-21-year-olds. This is an unusual step, but I have come to the conclusion that in all the circumstances it is a necessary and appropriate course of action.”

Dr Jo Farrar, Chief Executive of HM Prison and Probation Service, said: “HMYOI Feltham A is a complex and challenging place, and we are pleased that inspectors have recognised the work of the new governor and her commitment to driving forward improvements at the prison. We are taking urgent action to address the concerns raised – this includes opening a specialist unit to provide interventions and support for the most challenging young people, and providing each offender with a dedicated officer to better help their rehabilitation. We have also recruited an extra 90 prison officers across Feltham since the last inspection and are training more than 50 Youth Justice Specialist Officers. We know that there is a lot more to do and that significant change is needed which is why the governor and her staff will continue to work hard ahead of the return of the inspectors in July.”

Read the Report 

HMYOI Werrington – Proof that progress is obtained more by offering the carrot, than waving the stick

HMYOI Werrington, near Stoke-on-Trent, was found by inspectors to be a successful establishment with an “overriding culture” for the 100 boys aged from 15 to 18 of incentive rather than punishment.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “By any standards this was a good inspection (in January 2018) and showed what could be achieved in an area of custody that has drawn considerable adverse comment in recent times, not least from this Inspectorate.”

However, Mr Clarke sounded a note of caution. “Our major concerns were around the levels of violence, which had risen since the last inspection (in 2017) and were too high. There had been a significant increase from some 142 incidents in the six months prior to the last inspection to 206 incidents in the period leading up to this one.” Use of force by staff had also increased.

Inspectors noted, though, that Werrington had “good initiatives in place to tackle the violence, and early indications were that they were having a positive effect.” The ambition, Mr Clarke added, was to make the YOI safer, “but not at the expense of the regime” – the day-to-day running of the establishment.

In 2018, inspectors assessed respect in the YOI as “good”, the highest HMI Prisons assessment, with much of the progress due to good partnership working with other bodies, including in education, health and the voluntary sector.

The inspection, Mr Clarke said, “very quickly established that the overriding culture at Werrington was one of incentive rather than punishment. This was reality, not merely an aspiration, and the leadership and staff deserved much credit for having the determination to deliver it. This was in stark contrast to what we see all too often at other establishments, where a negative cycle of punishment and restriction is pursued as the preferred means of behaviour management.”

All boys had signed behaviour-related compacts in which access to private cash, computer games and time out of cell were good incentives and were appreciated by boys. Inspectors noted: “The scheme was more focused on incentives than we often see. The merit scheme had developed since the previous inspection and continued to offer boys an immediate reward for good behaviour which could be exchanged for confectionery at the merit shop. We observed officers who were quick to acknowledge good behaviour and this was reflected in the number of positive entries in boys’ files.”

Inspectors also commended good work in the area of resettlement for boys who were released. “There was imaginative use of release on temporary licence (ROTL), which was to be commended. There was also a proactive casework team that worked with partners to address offending behaviour and meet other resettlement needs.”

In conclusion, Mr Clarke said:

“It is pleasing to be able to publish a very positive report about a YOI. The Inspectorate always welcomes good practice being identified and promulgated, which is why we have gone to particular lengths in this report to do so. Nevertheless, it is clear that if the progress that has been made at Werrington is to be consolidated and maintained, there needs to be a continued and unwavering focus on reducing the violence that is the major threat to its continuing stability and success.

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales described the report as “an oasis in a sea of what is usually despair.”

Mr Leech said: “Far too often we read dreadful reports, particularly with this volatile population, who are notoriously difficult to manage.

“The Werrington report however is an oasis is a sea of what is usually despair, and shows what can be done with imaginative management, incentives that work straight away and staff who try to see the best in people.

“There is still too much violence at Werrington, it needs strict control, but there are many YOI Governors who wish this report could have been written about their establishment – and their challenge to aim for that with the same incentivised approach.”

 A copy of the full report, published on 5 June 2018, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

published today: Children in Custody 2015-16: an analysis of 12 to 18-year-olds’ perceptions

 Juv CentreNearly half of boys in young offender institutions have felt unsafe in custody at some point, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published a thematic report on the results of surveys of children in custody.

The report, Children in Custody 2015-16: an analysis of 12 to 18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experience in secure training centres and young offender institutions, commissioned by the Youth Justice Board (YJB), sets out how children describe their own experience of imprisonment. The number of children in custody fell by 53% between 2010-11 and 2015-16, made up largely by falls in the number of children held in young offender institutions (YOIs), down 59%. Over the longer term, the secure children’s estate population has fallen by 66% since 2005-06. As of April 2016, 906 children aged under 18 were held in custody across England and Wales.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has published an annual summary of survey responses in YOIs since 2001-02 and the demographics and circumstances of the boys held have changed over that period. The proportion who said they were from a black or minority ethnic background is at the highest rate recorded since 2001-02, at 47%. Those with experience of the local authority care system (37%), Muslim boys (22%), boys reporting a disability (19%) and those identifying as being from a Gypsy, Romany or Traveller background (7%) continued to be disproportionately over-represented across the YOI estate when compared with the population as a whole. When asked if they had ever felt unsafe at their establishment, 46% of boys said they had, the highest ever figure recorded through our surveys.

The report also found that in YOIs:

  • the proportion of boys with a job in their establishment had fallen significantly in the past 12 months (16% compared with 28% in 2014-15); and
  • the proportion of boys engaged in a job (16%), vocational training (11%) and offending behaviour programmes (16%) across the YOI estate was lower than in 2015-16 than at any point since 2010-11.

In April 2012, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission began joint inspections of Secure Training Centres (STCs). This report includes the fourth annual summary of children’s experience of STCs. The demographics of STCs and YOIs have some significant differences. YOIs hold only boys aged between 15 and 18. All girls aged under 18 are now held in either STCs or local authority-run Secure Children’s Homes (SCHs). STCs held a greater proportion of children under 16 than YOIs, at around a third (32%).

The report also found that in STCs:

  • the proportion who identified as being from a black or minority ethnic background was 41%;
  • the proportion who identified as Muslim was 15%;
  • the proportion who said they were from a Gypsy, Romany or Traveller background was 12%;
  • nearly a third of children (31%) report being victimised by being shouted at through windows; and
  • nearly a quarter of children (23%) reported feeling unsafe at some point since their arrival at the STC.

Peter Clarke said:

“Over the past decade the number of children in custody has fallen by some 66%, but the perceptions of those that remain leave us with some worrying and difficult issues to consider. During the inspections of young offender institutions in the past year, we found that outcomes in our test of safety were not sufficiently good in all but one YOI. Our surveys disclose that 46% of boys had at some point felt unsafe at their establishment, the highest figure we have recorded. These poor outcomes in safety are directly related to correspondingly poor outcomes in education.

“There are some particularly troubling findings in the areas of disproportionate over-representation (in terms of the characteristics of the children now being held in custody), safety, victimisation, respect and training. I hope these findings are taken seriously by those charged with developing and improving policy.”

Colin Allars, Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board, said:

“Parts of this report are uncomfortable to read – trends around safety are concerning.  We will use these findings to support our work with providers of custodial services to address the issues children and young people are telling us about.

“The YJB has a role in ensuring young people are looked after whilst in custody, and to do that effectively we must listen to their views. We commission this independent survey because its findings are important in ensuring that the voices of children and young people in custody are heard and because it helps us to monitor the services provided to them.”

A copy of the report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 15 November 2016 at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-prisons/thematic-research.htm

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

Replace child prisons with small units to cut reoffending says new report

childinprisonReplacing large children’s prisons with smaller units could boost Justice Secretary Michael Gove’s attempts to reduce reoffending rates, a report suggests.

Detainees in young offenders’ institutions are more likely to suffer violence and longer periods in isolation, it was claimed.

Youngsters can also be locked up in secure training centres and secure children’s homes.

The Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield, who commissioned the research, said: “Keeping children in units where they are likely to suffer violence, intimidation and longer periods of isolation has long-term costs. Children in those environments are more likely to reoffend when they are released.

“When children are kept in isolation their education is disrupted and it is far harder to reintegrate them into society once they have served their sentences.

“The Justice Secretary needs to take note of this report and consider replacing large children’s prisons with small secure units.

“These may be more expensive to run in the short term because they require a higher adult to child ratio but would be cost effective if they help to keep young people out of trouble in the future.”

The study found that on average, a third of children in the youth justice secure estate in England are subject to isolation at some point. The approach is often used as a method for maintaining order and safety.

Young people held in secure children’s homes and training centres are usually placed in isolation for shorter periods than those locked up in larger young offender institutes, according to the report.

It called for an end to solitary confinement, saying this can see children kept in isolation for 22 hours or more.

Ms Longfield said: “Even where there are children who may never be released from prison, long periods of segregation is likely to have detrimental effect on their behaviour and outcomes.

“The number of children held in secure units has fallen dramatically in recent years to around 1,000 children from about 3,000 seven years ago so the effective reintegration of those who are released is within our grasp.

“We need to ensure that the right resources are available to eradicate re-offending on release.”

Mr Gove has set out proposals that would amount to a radical overhaul of prisons since being appointed to the role following the election.

He has floated the idea of linking an offender’s release date to their academic performance while behind bars as he lamented the UK’s failure to reduce re-offending rates as “horrifying”.

Mr Gove has also indicated that Victorian jails could be closed and sold off to help fund an upgrade of Britain’s “out of date and overcrowded” prison estate.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “We take the safety and welfare of these children extremely seriously.

“We are clear that children should only be segregated as a last resort, under careful control and regular review, where they are putting themselves and others at risk.

“The Secretary of State has commissioned a review of the youth justice system which will report next year.”

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.