Detention centre for young people gets closed over safety concerns

‘Unsafe’ child secure unit is shut down: Detention centre for young people gets closed over safety concerns after Ofsted branded life for inmates ‘bleak’

  • The Rainsbrook Secure Training Unit near Rugby, Warwickshire, was shut down
  • Justice Secretary Robert Buckland ordered all 33 child offenders to be moved
  • Watchdog Ofsted described life at the centre as ‘bleak’ and raised concerns about violence and management failings 

A child detention centre was shut down over safety concerns last night.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland ordered all 33 child offenders to be moved out of Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre ‘with immediate effect’. It is run by private operator MTC.

He said the unit, near Rugby, Warwickshire, for boys and girls aged 12 to 17, could be taken back under public sector control. 

Watchdog Ofsted described life at the centre as ‘bleak’ and raised concerns about violence and management failings in December last year. 

‘Six months ago, I demanded that MTC take immediate action to fix the very serious failings at Rainsbrook,’ said Mr Buckland. ‘They failed to deliver and I have been left with no choice but to ask that all children are moved elsewhere.’ 

The Rainsbrook Secure Training Unit near Rugby, Warwickshire, was shut down over safety concerns last night

An MTC spokesman said the operator had ‘worked hard’ to address Ofsted’s recommendations. He said MTC would ‘vigorously challenge’ the conclusions of Ofsted’s latest inspection.

It follows a host of scandals involving private firms with criminal justice contracts.

Another secure training centre run by G4S in Medway, Kent, was converted to an adult jail after secret filming by the BBC’s Panorama showed staff using excessive force on children, including choking them.

G4S and another private firm, Serco, were both fined huge sums after it emerged they had been overcharging the taxpayer for electronic tagging schemes.

A series of privately-run jails for adult prisoners which were run by private firms have also been taken back into public sector control.

Watchdog Ofsted rated Rainsbrook as ‘inadequate’ in a report published in December.

It said some children were ‘being locked in their rooms for 23.5 hours a day for days or even weeks’, adding: ‘Children’s daily experiences are bleak.’

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland (pictured) ordered all 33 child offenders to be moved out of Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre ‘with immediate effect’

The inspectors also voiced concerns about violence in the centre, and about the management’s oversight.

Ofsted invoked a mechanism, known as the ‘urgent notification process’, which requires operators to introduce immediate improvements.

A follow-up report published in January described concerns over ‘peer-on-peer violence and assaults on staff’.

Mr Buckland said there had been some improvements made by MTC since then – but not enough.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said officials will now explore ‘alternative options’ for the Rainsbrook site.

‘Negotiations are ongoing with provider MTC on the future of the contract,’ the spokesman added.

Children held there will be distributed to other secure centres across the country.

Frances Crook, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: ‘This is good news for these children, good news for the taxpayer and good news for victims of crime.

‘This institution has been failing the public for years.

‘My question is how many children had to suffer abuses in this institution before the Government took this drastic action. I applaud ministers for doing it.’

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