Seven members of staff have been suspended following extremely serious allegations of child abuse at Medway secure training centre in Kent. The allegations include officers:
- Punching children
- Repeatedly slapping children on the head
- Using inappropriate restraint techniques, which, in one incident, involved squeezing a child’s windpipe so hard he couldn’t breathe
- Boasting of mistreating children: including assaulting a child with a fork and making a child sob
- Deliberately hiding their mistreatment by avoiding CCTV.
The abuse was apparently filmed by a BBC Panorama reporter, working undercover, and details will be broadcast soon.
Article 39’s Director, Carolyne Willow, states:
“If these allegations are proven to be true, there can be no denying that child abuse has been endemic in this G4S-run prison.”
“These are not isolated allegations; there have been serious concerns about secure training centres from the start. An independent child abuse inquiry must be established to investigate the full extent of mistreatment within the centres, and the mechanisms available to children to report their concerns and seek outside help.”
These latest revelations follow reports last year that G4S had sacked at least seven members of staff following misconduct at Rainsbrook secure training centre in Northamptonshire.
At least six officers were reported to have been sacked following an inspection in February 2015, and a further “two serious instances” of middle managers using “bad language and threatening words” towards children were reported in the follow-up inspection report. One member of staff was sacked as a result, and the other resigned.
Fifteen year-old Gareth Myatt died in Rainsbrook secure training centre in April 2004, after being forcibly held down in a sitting position, with his head pushed towards his knees, by three officers who ignored his cries that he couldn’t breathe. It was later discovered that the G4S restraint trainer called herself ‘Clubber Clay’ and other officers had nick-names such as Breaker, Mauler and Crusher.