Inspectors report youth offender centre effectiveness good
Inspectors led by Ofsted postponed the publication of their report into the G4S-managed Oakhill Secure Training Centre (STC) in January after allegations came to light regarding the treatment of young people at Medway STC in Kent, which is also managed by the company.
As part of their unannounced follow-up inspection in February, a team of seven inspectors conducted confidential interviews with 26 young people and 31 staff, met with the Barnardo’s advocacy service and reviewed reports and CCTV footage from 42 incidents of restraint. They again found the facility’s overall effectiveness to be “good”, that it is safe for young people, promotes positive behaviour and that the detainees achieve good educational outcomes.
Inspectors reported that young people at the centre, which is designed to educate, train and rehabilitate up to 80 young people ahead of release and resettlement have high levels of achievement and those with poor literacy and numeracy are supported well. In a survey conducted by researchers from the independent team during the first inspection, 9 out of 10 young people felt safe and this was reflected in their follow-up review in February.
While inspectors said they found no indication of any falsification of records, weaknesses in the reporting system create a risk that complaints by staff or young people may not come to the attention of the senior team. The centre management is credited with taking action to review the reporting system and improving the performance of a small number of managers and staff.
In addition to the oversight from inspecting bodies, the centre has strengthened links with the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB), which in 2014 conducted a thorough review of the use of force in the centre, concluding that force is used appropriately. This year, the Ministry of Justice’s team for managing and minimising physical restraint has also been on site to observe incidents involving restraint as they unfold to help identify areas for improvement.
Responding to today’s reports, G4S Managing Director for children’s services, Paul Cook, said:
“It has been a tremendously challenging period for everyone connected to our secure training centres and I am encouraged that Ofsted’s follow-up inspection finds that Oakhill’s overall effectiveness is good.
“At a time when staff morale and confidence was shaken because of the shocking actions of a small group of their colleagues at Medway, the team has had to look after a larger number of more complex young people – including an increase in those who cannot mix because of their past or gang affiliation. Throughout that period, young people have reported to inspectors that some staff do ‘amazing’ work to support them.
“While I am pleased that inspectors have found no indication of any falsification of records, we recognise that reporting systems in our centres need strengthening to help managers track and triage incidents better. A review is underway but we have already taken steps to explicitly prohibit frontline staff from completing reports in the vicinity of duty managers and the accelerated roll-out of body-worn video cameras will address some shortfalls in CCTV coverage.
"G4S recently announced its intention to exit children's services, including at Oakhill, but our commitment to the welfare of the young people at the centre in undiminished. We will work with partners, particularly our customer the Youth Justice Board, to play a full part in responding to the recommendations made in today’s reports to ensure that young people at the centre continue to achieve good educational outcomes which will ultimately help them to turn away from crime.”
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Notes to editors:
The report can be found on the Ofsted website. The full inspection took place between 3-13 November 2015 and the follow-up between 9-10 February 2016.
Milton Keynes Safeguarding Children Board (MKSCB) annual review of the use of restraining in Oakhill secure training centre can be found at the MKSCB website.
More information can be found about educating young people in secure training centres can be found on the G4S website.
More information about young people in custody can be found on the Youth Justice Board website.