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18 Apr 2017

Howard League responds to Parc prison inspection

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on the children’s unit in G4S-run Parc prison in Wales, published today (Tuesday 18 April).

The critical inspection report comes seven months after the Howard League raised its own concerns about the running of the prison, following a visit last September.

Howard League staff were so concerned by what they found in Parc that they wrote to G4S, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Youth Justice Board to recommend urgent action.

Points raised in the letter included concern that cells were too small, with unscreened lavatories and no ventilation. Boys slept on solid plinths with inadequate bedding and shabby mattresses infested with bed bugs.

A system of ‘seconds’ meant that many boys did not get enough food on first serving and only some who were favourites with staff got seconds.

Boys also complained about the quality of education. They said that they wanted to learn but merely listened to music and sat about.

The letter referred to serious allegations of racism, to which staff seemed to be unaware and unequipped to understand or respond.

The Howard League raised concerns about misinformation being presented by G4S to the children, their parents and to the public about issues like release on a temporary licence to help with resettlement.

One boy was only permitted to say goodbye to his dying mother by Skype, with a prison officer sitting in on the conversation.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “I was deeply concerned by what I saw in Parc last September. G4S responded to my letter and promised to address the issues, but clearly there are still problems.

“Because of concerns about the quality of care in Parc, the number of boys being held there has been significantly reduced. It is time now to close it down.

“There exists an excellent unit nearby, run by the local authority, which cares for children in a secure setting.”

The Howard League’s free advice line has received a number of calls from children and young people in Parc.

Young people and their carers have told the charity’s legal team about feeling discriminated against, and have raised concerns about inappropriate behaviour by staff.

Examples include:

Two children who have told the Howard League that they were isolated in their cells for more than 22 hours a day, for a prolonged period, because it was deemed that they could not safely mix with other children.

A number of young people who have told the Howard League that they feel staff treat them differently because of their race.

The mother of a child in Parc, who was concerned that he had repeatedly been inappropriately restrained by officers, causing him injuries.

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 Parc inspection report will be available from Tuesday 18 April on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website.


Rob Preece
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