CHILDREN have been removed from a privately-run youth jail near Rugby amid ‘serious ongoing concerns about safety and performance’.
The Lord Chancellor took the decision to move inmates from Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre after private provider MTC failed to address concerns children were being treated unacceptably under a ‘bleak regime’.
In January this year, a comprehensive action plan was issued to MTC, setting out measures necessary to ensure all young people at Rainsbrook were properly cared for.
But the government said the action taken by the provider over the last six months – including addressing the most urgent concerns around children’s time out of their room – was not enough to resolve wider long-standing issues.
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said:
“Six months ago, I demanded that MTC take immediate action to fix the very serious failings at Rainsbrook.
“They have failed to deliver and I have been left with no choice but to ask that all children are moved elsewhere as soon as possible.
“This move will help protect the public by ensuring often vulnerable children get the support they need to turn their lives around – ultimately resulting in fewer victims and safer streets.”
All 33 young people at Rainsbrook have been taken to ‘safe and secure centres’ across the youth secure estate, the Ministry of Justice said.
In January this year an action plan was issued to MTC to tackle urgent concerns raised by inspectors following a visit at the end of 2020.
Ofsted, HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) issued a rare urgent notification for the centre, which is based between Dunchurch and Barby, and holds children aged 12 to 17.
The inspectorates found that newly-admitted children were being locked in their bedrooms for 14 days, and only allowed out for 30 minutes a day, due to Covid-19 health guidelines.
A follow up visit by Ofsted at the end of January found that incidents of violence and self-harm at the centre had increased. Arrangements around education had also worsened amid the pandemic.
In a letter to the Secretary of State, inspectors said they uncovered a “bleak picture – a spartan regime where children were given little encouragement to get up in the mornings or have any meaningful engagement with staff.”
The Lord Chancellor has decided to explore alternative options for the site, including taking it back under public sector control and repurposing the site for alternative use.
Anna McMorrin MP, Labour’s Shadow Victims and Youth Justice Minister, said: “The Conservatives’ mishandling of the youth justice system is failing the welfare and rehabilitation of vulnerable children, putting the public at risk of reoffending.
“Appalling conditions in youth offenders institutions are grossly inadequate and the neglect of children worsens life outcomes.
“The Government has repeatedly failed to act on past warnings, and must now outline a plan to get a grip of this crisis.”