The Youth Justice Board has given the new director of Oakhill secure training centre a further six months to turn the facility around.
John Parker, the former director of Rainsbrook STC, joined the centre in Milton Keynes at the beginning of June, just weeks after it received a 60-day rectification notice.
“Staggering use of force”
The notice requiring Oakhill to fulfil its contractual requirements regarding education and staffing followed damning reports by inspectors that found “staggering” use of force and serious lack of order.
But after discussions with operating company Group 4 Securicor, the YJB has agreed to extend this deadline until January 2009.
The most recent inspection report from Ofsted, leaked to Community Care, suggested improvements were underway.
A YJB spokesperson said: “The YJB is keen for Oakhill to succeed and feels it has been appropriate to provide the new director, John Parker, adequate time to effect change.”
The YJB found cause for optimism in operating company Group 4 Securicor’s recent £355m purchase of Global Solutions Limited, which runs the secure training centres in Medway, Kent, and Rainsbrook, Northamptonshire.
The spokesperson added: “The recent merger between G4S and GSL has presented opportunities for the contractor at Oakhill to increase the management and staff support at the centre through the transfer of expertise. “
Safety should be “a priority”
The centre will be subject to close monitoring until the end of next January, to ensure “that the safety of young people placed at Oakhill is a priority”.
Oakhill, which houses boys and girls aged between 12 and 17, hit the headlines following visits from Ofsted and the chief inspector of prisons, Anne Owers, who called for its temporary closure.
In her report, originally issued last October, Owers said that despite long-standing concerns by Ofsted and the Commission for Social Care Inspection, staff “continued to struggle to maintain order and to control safely the children in their care”.
Parker replaces Malcolm Stevens, who was in the position for 11 months.