A YOUTH prison near Dunchurch ‘should be closed’ according to the world’s oldest prison reform charity, after a damning report revealed violence against children and staff had more than doubled since the last inspection.
The report into Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre – produced jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons – also revealed staff were ‘inexperienced and poorly trained’ and systems to safeguard and care for children were not in place.
An inspection of Rainsbrook in June revealed there had been almost 500 violent incidents in the previous six months, use of force and restraint had trebled since the previous inspection to an average of around 90 incidents a month, and the majority of staff working with children on a shift had less than a year’s experience.
Since the previous inspection, ten members of staff had left because of unsatisfactory performance.
MTCnovo took over the jail, which holds children and young people aged 12 to 18, from G4S in May 2016.
The centre attracted controversy in 2004 when 15-year old inmate Gareth Myatt died after being restrained using techniques that were subsequently
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “G4S’s running of Rainsbrook was disastrous. A child died. Under MTCnovo, the jail remains unsafe. It is time for ministers to accept what is staring them in the face – these secure training centres should be closed.
“Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons declared that there was not a single jail in the country that was safe for a child. It surely begs the question of why children are still being sent to places like Rainsbrook, where violence is rife.
“A long line of inspection reports has underlined that this is a failed model of detention. After almost 30 years of children being mistreated, it is time to put an end to this.”
The report also acknowledged 91 per cent of young people reported they felt safe at Rainsbrook, and the centre had made improvements which contributed to ‘better educational opportunities and better access to health staff’.
A spokesman for Rainsbrook said: “MTCnovo welcomes this report. The report highlights many positive examples of good practise.
“Ofsted recognises we are part way through transforming Rainsbrook and the challenges that entails. Even though the report acknowledges there have been some significant improvements, we recognise there is more to do and we look forward to implementing Ofsted’s recommendations in full over the coming months.
“The safety and welfare of young people is our number one priority. We are developing a behaviour management strategy aligned to our psychologically informed care model to specifically address this. Our model is underpinned by the introduction of our new reward and sanctions based policy which is focused on promoting positive behaviour through positive reinforcement.”
In May 2015 a report on Rainsbrook revealed inmates were subjected to degrading treatment and racism by staff who were under the influence of drugs.
The scandal saw six staff members dismissed, prompting a Howard League spokesman to declare no child was safe in the centre.
But a follow-up report six months later praised the centre, revealing 95 per cent of inmates said staff treated them with respect.