Home Office delayed critical report into secure centre where boy died

A highly critical inspection report into the secure training centre where 14-year-old Adam Rickwood committed suicide was held back from publication until 18 months after inspectors went in.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection published the report on the privately-run Hassockfield STC in Durham this week after Community Care asked why it had been delayed.

It is understood that the report, which raised concerns over the use of restraint and called for a review of the centre’s behaviour management policy, had been signed off by CSCI last year, but delays occurred when it was sent to the Home Office to be approved.

The inspection was conducted in August 2005, a year after Rickwood was found hung (see Inquests). The CSCI report found that there had been a “month on month”  increase in the use of physical restraint, segregation and handcuffs on its 42 residents since its previous inspection in 2004.

There were “entrenched suspicions and divisions” between different staff groups that “worked against the interests of young people”.

A CSCI inspection team went back into the centre in August 2006. A spokesperson said that there had been “improvements” made and the report would be published in March.

Serco, which runs the centre, said that it “regretted” the delays in publishing the 2005 report. It said it had carried out a “fundamental overhaul” of behaviour management techniques, and introduced new  approaches to using restraint. This had resulted in a “significant and steady decrease” of restraint from 135 in July 2005 to 21 in July 2006.

Figures from the Home Office show there were a total of 89 instances of restraint at Hassockfield between July and September 2006, the lowest of the four STCs. Medway was the highest with 282 for the period.

The CSCI said it “regretted” there had been “unacceptable delays”.

It added that a new agreement has been made with the Youth Justice Board, and the Home Office which would speed up publication of inspections in the future. The Home Office said: “We are all working together to improve the process.”


Adam Rickwood’s inquest is scheduled for April and will examine claims that he was restrained in the hours preceding his suicide. The inquest into the death of 15-year-old Gareth Myatt, who lost consciousness while being restrained by three officers at Rainsbrook STC, opened this week.Myatt died in April 2004.

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Helen McCormack

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