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Frances Crook's blog · 6 May 2016

Rainsbrook: more children being failed

Frances Crook in front of office bookshelves

The latest inspection of Rainsbrook secure training centre has been published this morning. At the time of the inspection it was being run by G4S but MTCNovo took over this week.

The child jail held 61 boys and 13 girls.

This is the third inspection report in the space of a year following the disastrous inspection last spring and the follow-up that found some improvements.

Overall the findings are pretty damning, illustrating how the experiment of secure training centres has failed children for two decades. It has, however, succeeded in providing profits to the security companies running them, although, as G4S has found, that comes at the price of reputation.

The overall effectiveness of Rainsbrook to meet the needs of children was judged to require improvement. Since it opened, staffing has been problematic with a very high turnover and shortages. The very children who need consistency and expertise, don’t get it.

Inspectors found instances of violence and restraint by staff were too frequent. The number of restraints and use of force had increased since the last inspection with an average of 29 incidents each month. The opportunity  to defuse a potential incident was missed on some occasions. In others it appeared young people may have anticipated the restraint situation preparing for this by wearing layers of clothing including outdoor coats and shoes!

Use of single separation has increased and inspectors saw an example where single separation was used but referred to as time out.

We have expressed serious concern about the probity of MTCNovo taking over caring for these children because of its poor record in the US where the company is being investigated for running a jail described by a judge as “horror as should be unrealised anywhere in the civilised world”.

These secure training centres have failed children for two decades. Children have died, children have been injured, children are released back into the community more damaged and emotionally harmed. As a nation we have to learn that we cannot keep inventing new ways to lock up children who simply do not require custody. It puts them in danger, costs a fortune and is morally corrosive to society. Rainsbrook, Medway and Oakhill secure training centres should be closed down.

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