Young offender institution compared to Lord of the Flies

Damning inspection of Glen Parva prison is one of a sequence of reports revealing serious concerns about young offender institutions

A young offender institution in Leicestershire has been deemed “unacceptable in too many areas” by the chief prisons inspector and likened to Lord of the Flies by campaigners.

A damning report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons found almost half of the young men held at Glen Parva prison – all aged between 15 and 18 – said they had felt unsafe, while recorded levels of assaults on other prisoners and staff had risen by more than a quarter over the last year. Inmates were even committing offences to get themselves placed in segregation to feel safe.

Inspectors described the institution as, “a model of custody that does not work”.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, called Glen Parva “a concerning institution”, before adding that, “some of the challenges Glen Parva faces are outside its direct control and the planned review of arrangements for holding young adults, and the current independent inquiry into recent self-inflicted deaths among this age group, need to proceed urgently”.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This sounds more like an extract from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies than a report on an institution that is meant to help young people turn their lives around.”

“The government must take courageous action to take these young people out of such a toxic environment before more of them die, or take responsibility for the consequences.”

However, the inspectors did note that this unannounced inspection came just after Glen Parva’s new governor had announced an improvement plan, and noted there had been signs of progress.

One example was a Trackworks railway maintenance workshop, highlighted as a good showcase of how high quality training and employment prospects could motivate prisoners.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, said: “Safety is the governor’s top priority and the young offender institution is now providing a safe and decent regime.
“We are reviewing future arrangements for young adult offenders in light of the wider concerns raised by the Inspectorate.”

The report into Glen Parva comes as one of a sequence of inspection reports, which have highlighted serious problems with the youth secure estate. Concerns were also raised about Aylesbury, Brinsford and Feltham young offender institutions.

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