‘No child is safe in this jail’: charity chief’s warning after damning Ofsted inspection

Ofsted criticises 'very poor' staff behaviour and racial discrimination at child prison, while campaigners call for its immediate closure

Image: Action Press/Rex Features

A G4S-run secure training centre has been slammed by Ofsted after children were subjected to “degrading treatment, racist comments and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs”.

Inspectors said the volume of “very poor staff behaviour warranting disciplinary measures” was seriously concerning, while campaigners called for the institution to be closed.

Incidents of restraint

The Rainsbrook centre, near Rugby in Warwickshire, is managed by G4S and designed to accommodate children aged 12 to 18 who are serving a custodial sentence or have been securely remanded awaiting sentence.

Just under half (72) of the 166 restraints carried out by staff in the six months leading up to the inspection were found to have been in response to young people self-harming.

Inspectors also feared staff were not properly recording instances where a child had been isolated, and noted staff considered ‘time out’ as a form of punishment, rather than an activity young people could choose when they wanted private time.

Racial discrimination

The inspection also found there were 21 racial discrimination complaints made in 2014, while one member of staff had been dismissed for using racist language.

Contraband DVDs found in the centre were “likely to be attributable to staff smuggling”, raising concerns that young people were allowed to view inappropriate material.

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

‘Catalogue of abusive practices’

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, called it “the worst report on a prison I have ever seen” and warned that “no child is safe” inside Rainsbrook.

“It is a catalogue of abusive practices that have been inflicted on young children who have no escape,” she said.

She added: “These child jails run for profit are secretive and should never have been set up in the first place. Rainsbrook should be closed immediately. No child is safe in this jail.”

Recommendations

Ofsted called on the centre to ensure all staff adhere to high standards of behaviour, review the centre’s actions in relation to serious disciplinary matters and provide effective interventions for young men regarding the risks of child sexual exploitation.

Paul Cook, director of children’s services at G4S, said the report is “extremely disappointing” and 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.”

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