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Feltham needs 'fundamental review'

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons has told ITV News that if he was the parent of a child in Feltham he'd be very worried indeed. He said Feltham was an unacceptably violent place with gang-related fights every day and staff were struggling to cope.

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons found that there was a high level of baton use like truncheons, greater in fact than in any other prison in the country, ever.

Feltham has made a small start by changing the population; only having sentenced boys there - not boys on remand - making the population more stable.

Feltham staff "overwhelmed by challenges"

Feltham Young Offenders Institution Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Feltham is divided into two parts, Feltham A holds children and young people, mostly aged 16 or 17, while Feltham B holds young adult men aged 18 to 21.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said:

"Feltham as a whole is an unacceptably violent place. Despite excellent work in some cases, staff were unable to prevent a high number of very concerning incidents that carried a significant risk of serious injury.

"In my view staff were sometimes overwhelmed by the challenges they faced and as a consequence, some of their response, such as the prolonged use of isolation on the children and young people's side and the use of batons on the young adult side, were unacceptable."

Mr Hardwick found that Feltham needed to rethink its role and cautiously welcomed a decision taken after the inspection to not hold young adults on remand as this may help to create a more stable and manageable population.

Elsewhere, the inspection found that many young people said they were frightened at the time of the inspection and had little confidence in staff to keep them safe.