Anne Owers raps lack of work or training at Rochester YOI

Chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers has called the lack of education, work or training opportunities for inmates at Rochester Young Offenders Institution “unacceptable” in a report released today.

Following an unannounced follow-up visit to the facility, which holds around 640 men aged 18-21, inspectors found that there was “far too little purposeful activity”. Although the prison population has doubled in size since 2002, education, work or training opportunities had only been made available to half of the new prisoners.

Some of the provision was also labelled “poor quality”, with 85 men found to be engaged in repetitive and mundane contract work.

Significant number of assaults

Although the report said that the prison was reasonably safe, it warned of a significant number of assaults and said there was “considerable evidence of bullying”. There were also no specialist services for young men with alcohol problems.

The report recommended an expansion of vocational training places and said that anti-bullying arrangements should be improved as a priority, including the appointment of a full-time violence reduction co-ordinator. It also said that violence reduction training should be given to staff.

Owers commented: “As the population continues to increase, it will be important to strengthen the procedures that underpin safety, given the volatility of the population.

Warnings over life chances and re-offending

“It is, however, unacceptable that the provision and quality of purposeful activity had not kept pace with the expansion, and the needs, of the population.

“This will make it more difficult to run a safe establishment, but crucially it will also do little to improve the life chances, and reduce the risk of re-offending, for many of the young men held there.”

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