In January 2016, BBC Panorama broadcast disturbing footage of children being physically and emotionally abused by officers. The then Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, established the Medway Improvement Board, which made a series of recommendations for improving the care and protection of children. The prison was transferred from G4S to the prison service in July 2016.
At the end of February 2016, G4S announced it would be selling its children’s business. This has not yet happened. It continues to run another child prison, Oakhill secure training centre, and several children’s homes. It also runs a prison unit for children attached to an adult prison in Wales. Last week, the Guardian newspaper reported that the Home Office plans to hand the contract for safeguarding children’s welfare in immigration detention to G4S. The children’s charity Barnardo’s formerly held this contract.
Article 39 has consistently pressed for a serious case review into the systemic abuse of children in Medway secure training centre. We provided evidence to the Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board of unsafe and possibly unlawful restraint.
This will be the first ever serious case review examining the institutional abuse of children in prison; others were established following the restraint-related deaths of Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood, though they did not examine claims of wider mistreatment.
In January 2012, the High Court found unlawful restraint had been widespread in the four secure training centres for a decade, possibly longer. At the time, G4S ran three of the centres and Serco ran the fourth.