Rainsbrook: Children to be urgently removed from 'unsafe' privately-run youth jail

Credit: PA

All children will be removed from a privately-run youth jail amid serious ongoing safety concerns, the government has announced. Work is underway to find alternative accommodation for 33 children who are at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said, after calls were made for urgent action to address problems at the unit. The government was urged to step in after it emerged children were being locked up for more than 23 hours a day during the coronavirus pandemic at the site near Rugby in Warwickshire.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland previously described this as an “unacceptable failure” while MPs heaped on pressure for the site to be taken back under public control from US-based contractor MTC. Taking the site back under state control is one of the options now being considered, the MoJ confirmed on Wednesday. Another is to shut down the centre and use the site for another purpose. Mr Buckland said: “Six months ago, I demanded that MTC take immediate action to fix the very serious failings at Rainsbrook.

“They have failed to deliver and I have been left with no choice but to ask that all children are moved elsewhere as soon as possible.

Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in Rugby Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Archive/Press Association Images

“This move will help protect the public by ensuring often vulnerable children get the support they need to turn their lives around – ultimately resulting in fewer victims and safer streets.” Negotiations about the future of the contract with MTC are ongoing. Rainsbrook can hold up to 87 children aged 12 to 17 years, who are serving a custodial sentence or on remand from the courts. In December, Ofsted, the Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) issued a rare urgent notification (UN) to Mr Buckland over the “continued poor care and leadership” at the site, amid concerns vulnerable children were being subjected to a “bleak regime”.

Inspectors found little progress had been made, despite assurances that immediate action would be taken two months earlier, amid concerns that newly-admitted children, some as young as 15, were being locked in their bedrooms for 14 days and only allowed out for 30 minutes a day. MTC’s managing director Ian Mulholland, who took over the role in January and was not in charge at the time of the inspections, previously apologised “unreservedly” for the “very obvious failings” but said efforts were being made to rectify the situation. The Commons Justice Committee later slammed promises of improvement made by MTC as “worth less than the paper they are written on”.