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Youth Custody

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL1553, tabled on 29 June 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address problems in youth custody centres; and in particular Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre.

Answered on

13 July 2021

The safety and wellbeing of children in custody is paramount. While the number of children in custody is at historically low levels, those in custody are a cohort with complex needs. We are committed to improving the safety and life chances for children in our care, investing in staff, education, psychology services and mental health support.

This is underpinned by SECURE STAIRS – the integrated framework of care led by the National Health Service (NHS) and Youth Custody Service (YCS) – which provides the foundations on working with children. We are also continuing to roll out the youth justice specialist role, and have provided funding for every prison officer in the youth secure estate to take up a degree level qualification to provide them with the skills and confidence to work with children in custody. As of March, there were 201 youth justice specialist officers already in post, with a further 319 staff signed up or undertaking the learning.

Following the Urgent Notification at Rainsbrook STC last December, the YCS ordered MTC (the provider) to take immediate action to address the unacceptable failings. This included ensuring all children in the Reverse Cohorting Unit had suitable access to services and more time out of their room. Whilst this has been achieved, significant issues around staffing, safety and on-site operational grip remain. These concerns have been further highlighted by a recently concluded Ofsted inspection, resulting in Urgent Notification being invoked on 18 June. As a result, work has begun to remove all children from Rainsbrook, transferring them to alternative appropriate accommodation within the youth secure estate. Separate to this, we are considering the future of the centre, with a further announcement to be made on this position in due course.