Submission to the Public Accounts Committee inquiry on secure training centres and secure schools
23 May 2022
“Secure training centres (STCs) have a long history of safeguarding failures, including the deaths of two children due to unlawful restraint and revelations of child abuse at Medway STC.
“The contractual issues which prevent the Ministry of Justice from ending the contract with G4S – which runs Oakhill – raise wider questions about imprisonment for profit.
“No form of youth custody except for secure children’s homes (SCHs) is capable of meeting the needs of children in custody, who have often been failed repeatedly by adults and statutory services.
“Young offender institutions (YOIs) are especially harmful, trapping children in an antagonistic and retraumatising environment which can only make them less safe.
“Black children are far less likely to be placed in SCHs than children of other ethnicities, adding to the racial disparities which are compounded at every stage of the criminal justice system.
“While educational provision in STCs and YOIs is inadequate, children in SCHs tend to get education every day
“A future increase in children sent to custody is not inevitable or necessary. The government should focus on promoting diversion wherever possible, in line with the UK’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”