Rainsbrook STC “requires improvement”

An Ofsted inspection of Rainsbrook secure training centre, which detains children between the ages of 12 and 17, as well as some 18 year-olds, has concluded it “requires improvement”.

The inspection of the G4S-run prison took place in September 2015, several months after inspectors rated its safety and overall effectiveness as “inadequate”.

Although the safety of children had improved since the last inspection, the effectiveness of management was criticised because there had been two incidents of serious misconduct by senior staff. One of the incidents had been left unchallenged, even though other staff were present. Inspectors were made aware of it only through audio recording on a body camera (which suggests it was a restraint incident).

The room used for searching children was described by inspectors as “stark” and a window was left uncovered:

“Although no-one can see into the room through this window, new arrivals are unlikely to know this, and the thought of undressing in front of an uncovered window could provoke anxiety in some young people.”

There had been three full searches – where children are made to remove all of their clothes – since the last inspection, and many routine ‘dignity searches’ (a description of these is not provided).

There was poor recording of the use of handcuffs, so inspectors were unable to check whether children had, for example, been handcuffed when “having a consultation with a medical professional”.

As is routine with inspections undertaken by the prisons inspectorate, a survey of children was carried out. Physical abuse and sexual abuse by other children was reported by 9 and 2 children respectively. One-third of the survey respondents said they had suffered ‘shout-outs’, a form of abuse endemic in custodial institutions whereby prisoners shout demeaning insults and threats from their cell windows. Five and three children reported physical and sexual abuse by staff respectively. None of this abuse is discussed in the main body of the report.

The time children arrive at Rainsbrook is outside the control of the prison. The Youth Justice Board contracts Serco to transport children to and from secure training centres, including to hospital appointments and court hearings. On first admission, inspectors found 21% of children had arrived late at night, some after midnight.

The management of Rainsbrook secure training centre is currently being transferred to MTCnovo. Last month, Article 39 and others raised concerns with the Youth Justice Board about MTC’s track record of running adult prisons in the United States.

Read the inspection report.