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21 Jan 2019

Howard League responds to Serious Case Review in relation to incidents at Medway secure training centre

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Medway Safeguarding Children Board’s overview report of a Serious Case Review on Learning for organisations arising from incidents at Medway Secure Training Centre, published today (Monday 21 January).

The Serious Case Review was initiated after a BBC Panorama documentary, broadcast in January 2016, identified abuse of children by staff. It focused on the three-year period from September 2014 to September 2017.

The Howard League runs a free and confidential legal advice line for children and young people in custody. During the three-year period covered by the review, the charity received more than 50 calls in respect of about 40 children in Medway and made a number of safeguarding referrals.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “No one who watched the Panorama documentary on Medway will ever forget its most distressing scenes. Today’s report reveals in yet more detail the harmful culture that has festered there for decades.

“The Howard League opposed the creation of secure training centres in the 1990s and warned that children would be damaged and hurt in these institutions. For many years independent inspectors’ findings have underlined that this is a failed model of detention. After more than 20 years of children being mistreated and their life chances damaged, it is time to put an end to this.

“The government has plans to convert it into a ‘secure school’, but a renaming exercise is not going to deal with the fundamental toxicity of this institution. Medway must close and it must close now.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  1. A copy of the overview report will be available from 1pm on Monday 21 January on the Medway Safeguarding Children Board website.


Rob Preece
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