Oakhill secure training centre has appointed a new director following concerns over the use of restraint.
Prisons minister David Hanson said yesterday that Malcolm Stevens had been put in post on 9 July after two unannounced inspections found the privately-run centre’s development was “poor”.
In a ministerial statement, Hanson said the inspections confirmed concerns raised by the Youth Justice Board “regarding levels of order and control” at the centre, which is run by Group 4 Securicor.
“The Youth Justice Board has required Mr. Stevens to set out how he would improve performance at the centre. The Youth Justice Board will monitor performance closely and expects to see rapid progress. If this is not the case further action will be taken”, Hanson’s statement said.
Painful “distraction” restraint techniques were used 112 times at Oakhill STC between 2006-7, according to Youth Justice Board figures given in parliament by Hanson this week.
A Youth Justice Board spokesperson said there had been a rise in the number of incidents of violence by young people on other young people as well as against staff at Oakhill, leading to an increase in the use of restraint.
The spokesperson added: “Recruitment and retention of staff has been an ongoing problem. Without the required number of staff on duty there will always be a risk to good order and discipline. This is why we have reduced the number of young people placed at Oakhill. Maintaining an ordered centre is essential for the safety of young people and staff alike which is why we raised this issue with the Ministry of Justice.
“We will continue to monitor to ensure that restraint is used as a last resort. With the new director in post we will expect to see rapid improvements at the centre.”
Hanson said the CSCI insepection reports on Oakhill, in Milton Keynes, would be published in due course.
Oakhill holds up to 80 young people aged between 12-17 and is one of four STCs in the UK, all of which are privately-run.
Yesterday in parliament, Sally Keeble MP called for a public inquiry into the use of restraint in secure training centres following the recent inquest into the death of 15-year-old Gareth Myatt. Myatt died after being restrained by staff at Rainsbrook secure training centre in 2004.
Next week, the House of Lords will attempt to annul legislation to extend staff powers to restrain children in secure training centres.
Adjournment debate on Gareth Myatt
Oakhill secure training centre
Youth Justice Board
Restraint row intensifies following Myatt verdict