Damning report highlights violence and access to pornography at controversial Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent
PUBLISHED: 11:51 08 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:11 08 August 2016
It is the venue highlighted in a BBC Panorama report earlier this year
An inspection report into the controversial Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester has revealed a string of “serious and widspread failings”, among them children having access to pornography and high levels of violence.
In a joint report issued by Ofsted, HM Inspectorate of Prison and the Care Quality Commission, it branded the facility ‘inadequate’.
The centre hit the headlines earlier this year after a BBC Panorama report revealed allegations of child abuse.
The fall-out saw G4S, which ran the site, pulling out and the National Offender Management Service taking over at the start of July.
Inspectors visited in June, before the takeover, and revealed a number of significant concerns.
The report said: “Levels of violence in the centre are very high and growing. This includes violence between young people and violence towards staff, despite a small and stable population of young people. The centre’s senior managers are not aware of the increasing trends in many areas of the centre’s functioning, and this is a stark example of their lack of oversight and governance.
“There is no violence reduction strategy to address this.”
It added: “Security arrangements are a significant concern. Recent security breaches due to ineffective centre procedures have taken place impacting on the care and safety of young people. These include a games console being brought into the centre by a staff member for a young person where procedures were breached leading to serious misuse.
“Current arrangements for staff purchasing items on behalf of young people are unnecessarily convoluted and lack management oversight. This means current arrangements do not detect potential corruption, bribery or other forms of manipulation.
“In recent weeks, two USB data sticks containing highly inappropriate material have been found in areas accessed by young people. It is clear that young people have been able to access pornography although it is not clear how many young people have been involved.”
Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This damning report underscores why it is welcome G4S are no longer running Medway secure training centre.
“Children in Medway are not safe and, given the allegations that were made in the Panorama documentary in January, it is shocking to see that violence is underreported and medical treatment is being inadequately recorded. This cannot go on.
“It is not simply the secure training centres which have proved failed models of child custody. In both young offender institutions and secure training centres we see problems of violence and cultures far removed from the caring environments children need. Radical action is required.”
The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world and is a national charity working for “less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison”.
Inspectors also found evidence that violence against children and staff was underreported. Staff were unable to provide inspectors with accurate records of the number of children requiring medical treatment as a result of assaults or fights.
Use of force and restraint were increasing and the number of such incidents in the month before the inspection was higher than at any point in the previous 12 months.
Inspectors found that child protection matters were not managed effectively, meaning children were not sufficiently safeguarded. Justice secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “The findings of this report are shocking and decisive action has already been taken.
“G4S have been removed from the running of Medway; since July 1 the centre has been under new leadership.
“The safety and rehabilitation of young offenders is extremely important. We will be responding to the review with our plans for reform shortly.”