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Youth jail inmates able to watch sexually-explicit TV content, report finds

Young inmates have been able to watch sexually-explicit content on television at a scandal-hit youth jail judged inadequate by Ofsted following its latest inspection

 

Managers at Medway Secure Training Centre (STC) in Kent have taken steps to avoid a repeat of the explicit viewing but they are not yet in place, inspectors said.

The disclosure emerged in a damning Ofsted report which rated the safety of young people, effectiveness of leaders and managers and the promoting of positive behaviour at the STC as inadequate.

The centre, which houses up to 76 male and female inmates aged 12 to 18, was the subject of an undercover BBC Panorama programme last year showing alleged abuse and mistreatment of youngsters.

Kent Police has charged a number of staff employed at the time.

The Government announced in the wake of the broadcast that it would take over management of the former G4S-run facility through the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

NOMS took over on July 1 last year and Ofsted inspected from March 6 to 10 this year.

In its report, published on Tuesday, Ofsted reported “steady progress” in some areas since the last inspection, but overall the STC was inadequate.

It emerged in the report staff employment history and past performance information for those previously employed by G4S were not available to the current governor.

“This means that staff who may have experienced disciplinary or capability measures no longer have this information on their employment records,” the report said. “This is a serious shortfall.”

CCTV coverage was still lacking in areas where young inmates have consistently reported feeling unsafe, including on stairwells and the education block, the report said.

Body-worn cameras now issued to all frontline staff were not always switched on when they should be and footage was not always reviewed, inspectors found.

In 15 incidents reviewed by inspectors from documents, CCTV and body-worn camera footage, force was found to be have been used appropriately to prevent injury in most cases.

Oversight of incidents of violence was deemed poor, with no accurate records made, inspectors added.

Criticism was also levelled at incomplete bullying logs designed to tackle the problem. Some had insufficient or no detail about why they were opened in the first place, or failed to detail the outcomes.

Inspectors said an expansion of the centre’s safeguarding team was positive but added the senior lead person has no previous experience or qualifications in safeguarding children.

Restraint handling plans, designed to inform staff of young inmates with medical conditions, were “well-intentioned” but the approach made it difficult for staff to remember those who might be affected by restraint holds.

“A number of staff working with the young people are unaware of the contents of these plans and the implications for practice,” the report said.

Positive aspects highlighted included improvements in consultation with young inmates and in the complaints arrangements, although some weaknesses were also found.

Inspectors said the centre was led by a suitably-experienced governor – the second since NOMS took over. But the report said there were a number of problems holding back swift progress at the STC.

It said: “The confusion and weak understanding of responsibilities, coupled with a poorly-trained and largely unqualified workforce, including at managerial grades, is hampering the governor’s ability to make swifter progress at the centre.

“The senior management team members are unsure of their responsibilities and accountabilities, as previous job titles, expectations of roles and suites of paperwork were taken away by the previous provider, G4S.

“At the time of the inspection, there had only been partial introduction and implementation of NOMS arrangements of staff. The shortage of historical material impacts on the management of staff.”

It added: “Staff and managers are not clear enough about what they should do, what they should record, where it should be recorded and why.”

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