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Young offenders centre 'inadequate'

Young offenders at a secure centre were subjected to degrading treatment and racist comments and were cared for by staff who were under the influence of drugs, a damning Ofsted report has found.

Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC) has been declared inadequate by the watchdog, after inspectors found a catalogue of failings including "serious incidents of gross misconduct" by some workers.

In some cases, there were delays in young people receiving vital medical treatment, Ofsted said, while nurses did not routinely attended promptly when an offender was being restrained.

There was also a high number of assaults recorded at Rainsbrook, which is run by G4S, over a six-month period, and youngsters were more likely to say that they had felt threatened by other young people or experienced insulting comments than at other STCs.

In a statement, G4S said it recognised that incidents highlighted by inspectors were "completely unacceptable" and insisted it took swift action at the time.

Rainsbrook, near Rugby, is one of three STCs across the country and caters to a maximum 87 12 to 18-year-olds who have been given a custodial sentence or are on remand.

Ofsted found a "mixed picture" in how young offenders at the centre were cared for and helped to improve their behaviour.

"Since the last inspection there have been serious incidents of gross misconduct by staff, including some who were in positions of leadership," inspectors concluded.

"Poor staff behaviour has led to some young people being subject to degrading treatment, racist comments, and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs. A finding of contraband DVDs in the centre is likely to be attributable to staff smuggling these in and raises a concern that young people were allowed to view inappropriate material they should not have been.

"It also raises a concern that some staff may have colluded with young people to elicit compliance by wholly inappropriate means. Senior managers are unable to reassure inspectors that this is not the case."

G4S said that the DVDs were certificate 15 discs.

The report says that poor care was made worse by "poor decision making by senior managers", which led to "delays in young people receiving essential medical diagnosis and treatment".

"On a number of occasions clear clinical advice was overruled by non-health qualified senior managers. Because of this one young person did not receive treatment for a fracture for approximately 15 hours."

It later said it was a "serious shortfall" that nurses did not routinely attend restraints promptly to ensure the safety and welfare of youngsters

More than half of offenders at the centre surveyed by Ofsted (56%) said they had faced insulting remarks from other young people, with a further 28% saying they had felt intimidated and threatened at some point.

During the six months before the inspection, there was an average of eight assaults a month - considered high - as well as 27 fights across the same six-month period.

Inspectors did find that while staff were given advice, disciplined or dismissed in some cases, in a few there were "unacceptable and inexplicable delays" in removing staff pending further investigation or an outcome that was too lenient.

"Many members of staff including night staff on the residential units have detailed knowledge about the young people in their care and show a commitment towards their welfare.," the report later says.

"However, these positive relationships have to be seen in the context of a centre where young people have experienced several serious incidents of unacceptable staff behaviour since the previous inspection. This includes collusion with young people in the settling of debts, poor application of restraint, drug taking and racism."

Ofsted did find that education at Rainsbrook is good, with offenders enjoying learning.

A G4S spokesman said: "This is an extremely disappointing report for everyone connected with Rainsbrook and it's the first time in 16 years that the centre has been found by any inspecting body to be less than 'good' or 'outstanding'.

"We recognise that the incidents highlighted by inspectors were completely unacceptable and took swift action at the time, in discussion with the Youth Justice Board (YJB)."

He added that the YJB has expressed confidence in the firm's plan to address concerns.

Nick Hardwick, c hief inspector of prisons, said: "Overall, we were very concerned about what we found at Rainsbrook. There had been a number of incidents that caused distress and humiliation to the young people involved. Some of those incidents included staff in leadership roles and there was not a sufficiently robust response by managers to some of the cases."

A G4S spokesman insisted that children are always sent out of the centre if there is an indication that they require treatment not provided by the NHS team on site.

He added: "All those involved in the incidents of poor care highlighted in the report have already been subject to disciplinary action and are no longer working at the centre."


From Belfast Telegraph