Institution praised for turnaround

Stoke Heath Young Offenders Institution,
slated last year as “not a safe establishment” in a damning
government report, has succeeding in turning round its regime.

Last October, inspectors opposed sending
children to the West Midlands institution until “decent and humane
treatment and conditions are not only in place, but can be
guaranteed”(News, page 8, 12 April).

Their report cautioned the Prison Service to
ensure that basic standards were “never allowed to deteriorate to
the level found at Stoke Heath”. During an eight-month period,
inspectors had found 717 reported injuries to children at the

However, in a dramatic turnaround, the once
vilified institution has now won high praise from its former

A prisons inspector’s report says 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.”

Youth Justice Board chairman Norman Warner
said: “This shows what can be achieved by inspired leadership and a
dedicated focus on the needs of juvenile offenders.”

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