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Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

Urgent action must be taken to stop the unacceptable treatment of vulnerable children in a ‘bleak regime’ at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC), Ofsted, HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), and Care Quality Commission (CQC) say.

The inspectorates have issued a rare urgent notification (UN) to the Secretary of State for Justice because of continued poor care and leadership at the MTC-run centre near Rugby. Robert Buckland now has 28 days to set out how these concerns will be addressed.

In October 2020, the inspectorates found that, due to COVID-19 health guidelines, newly admitted children – some as young as 15 – were being locked into their bedrooms for 14 days, and only allowed out for 30 minutes a day.

Yet, despite assurances that immediate action would be taken, a further monitoring visit in December found that little progress has been made.

The letter to the Secretary of State says that inspectors uncovered a bleak picture – a spartan regime where children were given little encouragement to get up in the mornings or have any meaningful engagement with staff. Senior management said that they were unaware of the regime being implemented in the centre, which held 45 children.

The inspectorates’ troubling findings include:

  • Five recently admitted children independently told inspectors that they had been locked into their bedrooms for substantial periods of time.
  • One boy was placed on an ‘incorrect management plan’ due to miscommunications about his medical vulnerabilities. Between 26 November and 10 December, this child had a total of 4 hours out of his room.
  • There were no isolation arrangements for newly admitted girls as there are for boys. As a result, one girl was placed separately on a mainstream girls’ residential unit with other children who were no longer isolating. This child had no time out of her room on 2 days and only very brief periods of less than 40 minutes on 3 subsequent days.
  • Although education work packs were issued to children confined to their rooms, record-keeping is poor and there is no evidence that children’s education entitlement is being met.

Since 2015, every inspection of Rainsbrook has judged the centre to require improvement to be good. The effectiveness of leaders and managers has been judged inadequate twice. The Secretary of State was told in the UN letter that the findings ‘provide little confidence in the centre’s capacity to improve the care, well-being and safety of children’.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, said:

Rainsbrook was warned that its treatment of newly admitted children was unacceptable, yet these concerns have been ignored. Some of the most vulnerable children are being locked up for days on end, with little thought about their safety or well-being. Leaders and government must act now to address this.

Charlie Taylor, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, said:

It is astonishing that in spite of our original findings, the Youth Custody Service and the Centre had continued to allow children to be held in what amounted to solitary confinement, particularly after we had been assured that this was no longer the case.

Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care at CQC said:

The decision to issue a UN is not taken lightly. While the reasons for taking this step do not relate specifically to the healthcare provision at Rainsbrook STC, we are concerned about the impact that these issues are having on the well-being of children and young people at the service.

It is important that the concerns found by Ofsted, HMIP and the CQC are acted on to improve the care, safety and well-being of children at this STC.

Notes to editors

Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre is operated by MTC. The centre provides accommodation for up to 87 children aged 12 to 17 years who are serving a custodial sentence or who are remanded to custody by the courts. There were 45 children resident at the time of this assurance visit.

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MIL OSI United Kingdom