'˜Violent' youth prison near Rugby '˜should close' after damning report

A youth prison near Rugby has been criticised by inspectors and a penal reform charity for being '˜overly violent and unsafe' with calls for it to be shut down.

Wednesday, 9th August 2017, 12:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:10 am
Rainsbrook secure training centre outside Rugby in 2010. Photo by James Corbett NNL-170908-111308001

Rainsbrook secure training centre was slated in a report jointly-produced by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons published yesterday (Tuesday, August 8).

The report reveals violence and use of force are high, staff are inexperienced and poorly trained, and basic systems to safeguard and care for children are not in place.

Howard League for Penal Reform chief executive Frances Crook said: “Last month, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons declared that there was not a single jail in the country that was safe for a child.

“This is an observation that the Howard League has been making for years, and it surely begs the question of why children are still being sent to places like Rainsbrook, where violence is rife.

“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.

“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.

“G4S’ 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.”

MTCnovo took over the running of the jail, which holds children and young people aged 12 to 18, from G4S in May, 2016.

Inspectors visited Rainsbrook in June and found, in the previous six months, there had been almost 500 violent incidents with violence against children and staff more than doubling since the last inspection.

Use of force and restraint had trebled since the previous inspection – to an average of about 90 incidents per month.

Inspectors found the majority of staff working with children on a shift had less than a year’s experience, with many only having done a few weeks or months in the role.

Since the previous inspection, 10 members of staff had left because of unsatisfactory performance.

A Rainsbrook spokesman 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.”