11:58, June 13 334 0 theguardian.com

2017-06-13 11:58:02
Medway youth jail rated inadequate by Ofsted inspectors

A scandal-hit youth jail has been rated inadequate with a quarter of its children saying they feel unsafe despite its management being taken back into the public sector, inspectors have found.

An Ofsted inspection report on Medway secure training centre published on Tuesday reveals young inmates have even been able to watch sexually explicit content on television and managers have yet to put in place measures to prevent a repeat of the incident.

The inspection report into Medway, which was previously run by G4S, rates the safety of young people, effectiveness of leaders and managers and the promotion of positive behaviour as inadequate.

The inspectors say that while steady progress has been made in a number of areas since their previous visit, overall it remained inadequate.

The management of Medway was taken over by Her Majesty’s prison and probation service last July after BBC Panorama undercover filming exposed staff mistreating and abusing inmates.

The secure training centre holds up to 76 male and female inmates aged 12- 18 but is only at 50% capacity. When numbers rose earlier this year, the use of physical restraint and fights increased.

The report says the majority of the workforce were former G4S employees but their staff employment histories and past performance records have not been made available to the current governor. “This means that staff who may have experienced disciplinary or capability measures no longer have this information on their employment records. This is a serious shortfall,” says the Ofsted report.

Deborah Coles, of Inquest, said: “It is shocking that despite two restraint deaths of children there are still children complaining they can’t breathe. This report exposes the failure of government to act on previous concerns about child protection, safeguarding, and dangerous restraint.

“STCs are a flawed model incapable of reform and need closing down. We need to reinvest in child-focused, therapeutic local authority children’s homes.

“It is an indictment of our justice system that it is deemed acceptable to subject children to such ill treatment and failings in care.”

Carolyne Willow, of Article 39 who has also campaigned over the child jail, echoed the call for Medway to be closed: “Ministers must call time on the false optimism that this prison, and safeguarding mechanisms around it, can be made safe for children,” she said.

“Inspectors have rated the institution inadequate twice in a year and the local authority’s response to safeguarding concerns continues to be deficient, with inspectors reporting a failure to follow statutory guidance. One-quarter of children surveyed said they had felt unsafe there. This is intolerable from a child protection perspective and the prison must close.”