Martin Narey sparks controversy by challenging critical inspection of child jail

Narey commissioned by G4S to do a follow up review on G4S-run secure training centre found to be 'inadequate' by inspectorates

Martin Narey has controversially challenged the findings of a highly critical joint inspection into a privately run youth prison.

The G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre, which caters for boys as young as 14, was criticised in May for subjecting children to “degrading treatment, racist comments and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs”.

In a follow-up report of the centre this month, commissioned by G4S, Narey disputed the findings of the original report, which was based on inspections by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission and HM Inspectorate of Prisons

Negative publicity

He said “very challenging children” were treated “overwhelmingly well” at the centre, adding: “I doubt that any such improvement has been signifcant enough to explain the discrepancy between the inspectorates’ conclusion and mine”.

He claimed incidents causing inspectors to label the centre inadequate had been dealt with by G4S and the Youth Justice Board.

Narey said negative publicity following the report, which included the chief executive of The Howard League for Penal Reform saying “no child is safe in this jail”, had adversely affected recruitment at the facility.

“It was clear to me that children felt generally safe, due in no small part to the constant presence of unit staff who, as well as accompanying them to education and other activities, take the children to the dining room and dine with them,” he said.

Narey said improvements were needed to challenge the children and get them to accept more responsibility for their offending, and that some had received a “barrage of short-term interventions”.

The inspectorates’ recommendations for improvement should be accepted, he said. But he added: “I don’t believe the inadequacies those improvements address, mean that Rainsbrook is, or was, an unsafe place for children.”


In a joint response to Narey’s review – which was conducted over four days – Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission and HM Inspectorate of Prisons – which sent seven inspectors to review the centre for 10 days each (a total of 70 inspection days) – said they “fully stand by” their report and were “puzzled” by Narey’s findings.

A statement read: “It is encouraging that Sir Martin is able to paint such a positive picture of the centre on the basis of his own recent visit, commissioned by G4S. However, we are puzzled how he is able to conclude from this visit that Rainsbrook was not an inadequate and unsafe institution at the time of our joint inspection.”

“The centre was found to be inadequate for overall effectiveness on the basis that the management of behaviour over the previous 12 months had deteriorated. There had been serious incidents of gross misconduct by staff, including some in a position of leadership. Ten staff had been dismissed. This poor staff behaviour had led to some young people being subject to degrading and disturbing treatment, racist comments and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs.”

The Youth Justice Board welcomed Narey’s report and said it “continues to work closely with G4S to ensure improvements recommended by the inspectorates are acted upon”.

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12 Responses to Martin Narey sparks controversy by challenging critical inspection of child jail

  1. Andrew July 29, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    Good to see Sir Martin making a bit of extra money for his pension.

    Wonder if we’d have heard anything if he’d agreed with the 3 Inspection services who went in to the STC? Or the chances of him doing so when G4S were paying him?

    Anyway, why hasn’t he been made Lord Narey yet – for services to self-promotion?

  2. Jonny Matthew July 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    I have a lot of respect for Martin Narey, but he’s missed it on this one. How can a four day visit by one person have any equivalence with 70 days of inspection by a three agency team? Being commissioned by G4S – those culpable for the original poor results – to undertake his visit just looks like a spectacular own goal driven by a conflict of interest… Pity.

    • Concerned of Social Work July 29, 2015 at 6:01 pm #


    • StanT July 29, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

      Actually I have always thought he doesn’t understand social work and promotes his simplistic and at times dangerous views with an authority he doesn’t merit

  3. Shelly July 29, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    Re Martin Narey report

    As far as I am aware Martin Narey presided over the prison service when ‘nose distraction’ was implemented in Young Offenders Institutions. Apparantly this was the official euphemism for a severe assault to the nose. (Children Behind Bars, Carolyne Willow, 2015) So possibly Mr Narey is not best placed to judge what children must endure while incarcerated?

  4. Jim July 29, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    A way to save government millions? Abolish Ofsted and HMIP and send in G4S and Martin Narey – Guaranteed Outstanding every time??!!

  5. Derek July 30, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    Setting aside the obvious conflicts of interest in Martin Narey’s roles, this appears as a thinly veiled attempt to bully the inspectorates should they have the temerity to criticize G4S. It is depressing or perhaps telling that the YJB seem to ‘accept’ this.

  6. Geoff Monaghan July 30, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    Sir Martin should not have taken on this commissioned role and produced such a thin report that undermines the whole purpose of statutory inspections. I am sure he would have been the first to condemn such an exercise at the time he was responsible for facilities in which children could be held. Perhaps he might be interested in more ‘compensation’ for his time by visiting G4S children’s lock-ups in Florida – such as Highlands ‘Youth Academy’, which is in the news reported as being ‘a disgrace to Florida’.

  7. Luke July 30, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    This is simply astounding. That a private company can now ‘buy’ its way to a rosy report is indicative of the terrible bias to the private sector that the Tories and friends such as Martin Narey clearly represent. Shame on him for his personal profiteering.

  8. James Marsh August 1, 2015 at 6:26 am #

    I am sure Martin is a pleasant enough chap but him and Isobelle Trowler are clearly more interested in supporting the Tory privatisation agenda and ensuring more money is paid to her old company Morning Lane (is she still profiting in some way from the recent award of the accreditation contract?) and large accountancy companies. The future of social work and the service users we serve is looking pretty worrying right now and none seems to stand up to the establishment view. Where are Barnodos, Save the Children etc in challenging the establishment whose prime concern seems to be policing the poor and making a profit from causing them on-going misery.

    • Judy Cooper
      Judy Cooper August 3, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

      Hi James
      We have looked into this and the Department for Education tells us Isabelle Trowler no longer has any shares in Morning Lane Associates nor was she involved in the contract tendering processes for the accreditation of children’s social workers.
      Judy Cooper
      Head of Content – Workforce
      Community Care

      • james Marsh August 6, 2015 at 1:07 am #

        Thanks for looking into this Judy. Everyone in children’s social care knows that Isobelle has a great deal of influence right now and although like Martin she is I am sure a pleasant enough person it is the perception that counts-whether she returned her shares or not is irrelevant as her friends run Morning Lane and in the longer term she will benefit from them being awarded multi-million pound contracts.
        It damages Isobelle’s credibility with frontline workers as does her very lame public comments regarding the demise of the College of Social Work. Just like Peter Mandelson was intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich Isobelle is very relaxed about the privatisation of child protection services. Furthermore in a recent speech she admitted that there is no point challenging ministers about austerity-if she does not have the passion and intellectual rigour to challenge them about austerity then what hope do we have? and what does she challenge them about? I think there needs to be more honesty in relation to the fact that she is a civil servant and as such she just re-iterates what her political masters say. Does she really believe it is ethical to make a financial profit from protecting children? if so what does that say about her ethics and values and are they in line with core social work values?
        Your interesting report regarding large accountancy companies being awarded most of the big recent contracts by the DFE is very concerning and it all chimes very well with the work of the Guardian Journalist Owen Jones who talks extensively about the establishment and how they like to give lots of money to the big 5 accountancy firms.
        One last point, Eileen Munro has been very quiet recently, again a shame when I know in private she is very happy to outline the damage that the Tories have done to the child protection system and how effectively the DFE ensured by various means her work never really made any difference. Why are the current national leaders in social work so lame and why don’t they stand up and actually say what they believe?