Questions about company taking over Rainsbrook STC

Four months after a damning inspection report, which said safeguarding was inadequate in G4S-run Rainsbrook secure training centre, the government announced MTCnovo would be handed the contract to run the child prison.

MTCnovo is a partnership between MTC, which manages 25 correctional facilities in the United States, and the UK-based company Amey. The contract transfer is expected to take five months.

On 5 October, Labour Peer and former Chair of the Local Government Association, Lord Beecham, asked the government what experience MTCnovo has of looking after vulnerable children.

Today’s reply suggests the company has very little, if any, experience of running children’s residential establishments:

Lord Beecham asked: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in relation to the decision to award MTCNovo the contract to run Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, what assessment they have made of the experience that company has in running residential establishments that care for vulnerable children; and whether MTCNovo, including its partners or significant subcontractors, has been found to have breached human rights or equality legislation in the last three years, either in the United Kingdom or abroad.

Justice Minister, Lord Faulks, replied: MTC and their main partner Amey were subject to robust and rigorous assessment at the pre-qualification stage of the competition. This included a thorough examination of health and safety, equalities, human rights and discrimination policies, and a requirement to demonstrate their experience of managing children and young people. There were no findings of a breach in human rights or equality legislation.

Fifteen year-old Gareth Myatt died in Rainsbrook secure training centre in April 2004, after being held down by three officers using the ‘seated double embrace’ restraint technique. The officers ignored the boy’s cries that he couldn’t breathe. The restraint incident started because he refused to clean a sandwich toaster that other boys had also used. A mixed race child, Gareth weighed just 6½ stone and stood less than five feet tall. Subsequent investigations found this and the three other secure training centres were running unlawful restraint regimes.

Carolyne Willow, Article 39’s Director, says:

“With Rainsbrook secure training centre having such a dreadful child protection record, it is imperative that ministers are transparent about whether MTCnovo has the expertise and ethos required to look after vulnerable children. Moving the contract from G4S to another provider should have been, first and foremost, about ensuring the protection and well-being of children, many of whom are held great distances from home. Lord Faulks’s opaque statement is unacceptable given the background of widespread physical abuse in this institution.”