Stoke Heath Young Offender’s Institution, which was
criticised last year as “not a safe establishment” in a damning
government report, has made a miraculous recovery,
writes Elizabeth Davidson.
Last October, inspectors recommended against sending children to
the West Midlands institution until “decent and humane treatment
and conditions are not only in place, but can be guaranteed”.
The report cautioned the prison service to ensure that basic
standards are “never allowed to deteriorate to the level found at
Stoke Heath”. Inspectors had found 717 reported injuries to
children there during an eight-month period.
But a new prison inspector’s report said good leadership
had changed attitudes among the staff, bullying was being tackled,
induction had been revised, and support given to those at risk from
suicide and self-harm had greatly improved.
Sir David Ramsbotham, the chief inspector of prisons, said: “I
congratulate all those who work in Stoke Heath on what they have
achieved in a comparatively short time.”
Norman Warner, Youth Justice Board chairperson, said: “This
shows what can be achieved by inspired leadership and a dedicated
focus on the needs of juvenile offenders.”