The Youth Justice Board is to make a phased withdrawal from
Ashfield Young Offenders Institution in Bristol.
The board, which commissions and buys places at the privately-run
centre, confirmed last week that 212 places would be reduced to 40
for young people on remand, who will spend no more than a month
The YJB had earlier reduced placements from 303 to 212 and issued
two failure notices in recent years.
“The fact that Ashfield was given more than one chance to turn
things around and standards still had not improved, we had no other
choice but to withdraw,” a board spokesperson said.
The board would have withdrawn sooner had the overcrowding problems
in the prison population not been so acute.
It is currently in discussions with the Prison Service to find
alternative provision in south west England.
The withdrawal came as chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers
described last summer’s inspection report of Ashfield as “the most
depressing I have issued during my time as chief inspector”.
The report found effective child protection procedures were not in
place, education and training was inadequate and there was no
effective resettlement strategy.
But the board and Prison Service insisted that the poor standards
at Ashfield were not linked to its privatisation.
Meanwhile, the board’s intensive supervision and surveillance
programme is to be rolled out nationally next year with the help of
extra Home Office funding.
The 50 existing schemes involve 119 youth offending teams and cover
three-quarters of England and Wales. The new money will extend
coverage to the remaining 36 teams that have no provision.
– Ashfield report from