A YOUTH prison where it was claimed “no child was safe” has been defended by a former chief executive of a children’s charity, months after an official inspection concluded inmates were subjected to degrading treatment.
Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, a privately-run prison for young offenders near Rugby, is pleading for a review of its progress after it was rated officially “inadequate” – the lowest possible rating – in a review published in May by Ofsted, HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission.
The report was challenged by Sir Martin Narey, former chief executive of Barnardo’s, after he visited the centre in late June.
He said: “The inspectorate conclusion was that in February of this year, at the time of the inspection, Rainsbrook was an inadequate institution and an unsafe place for children. I do not believe that.
“My assessment is that it is an institution in which some very challenging children are treated overwhelmingly well. The staff group, drawn from many professional backgrounds, is professional.
“That is not to suggest that the Inspectorate’s recommendations for improvement should not be accepted. They are uncontroversial and I take very little issue with them.
“But I don’t believe the inadequacies those improvements address, mean that Rainsbrook is, or was in February, an unsafe place for children.”
Sir Martin’s report concluded that some instances of staff dismissal were possibly “harsh”.
Bosses at the centre, run by G4S, claim improvements have now been made.
Managing Director for children’s services for the centre, Paul Cook said: “It has already been five months since inspectors visited and I am firmly of the view that given the seriousness of the report, the centre should be reviewed as soon as possible in order to check on our progress. This will provide much needed certainty for young people, their parents and our staff.
“In the meantime, we continue to work with stakeholders, including the Youth Justice Board and charities like Barnardo’s – who visit twice a week and are part of the centre’s admissions process – in order to provide young people at Rainsbrook the best rehabilitation, education and training possible to prepare them for life back in their communities.”
The original report revealed that inmates, aged from 12 to 17 years old, were subjected to degrading treatment and racism by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs. There were also incidents of access to illegal contraband and medical neglect of young prisoners.
At the time, a spokesman for the Howard League for Penal Reform charity called for the prison to be closed, saying it was the worst report on a prison he had ever seen and that no child was safe there.