Kent youth prison report found 200 weapons and solitary confinement for days

Cookham Wood was rated a poor, 1 out of 4 for keeping children safe. Credit: ITV Meridian

A damning report into a young offender institution in Kent says children were not kept safe and didn't get good enough care.

Inspectors visited Cookham Wood, Rochester, which houses boys and young men aged 15 to 18, in April 2023.

The prison was given just 1 out of 4 for keeping children safe. The report said children had very little to do, also scoring just 1 out of 4 in this area, and that young people were not given enough help to change their behaviour and get ready for release.

The report said the findings were 'unacceptable'. It said the most evident failing at Cookham Wood was the near total breakdown in behaviour management. Nearly a quarter of the boys said they felt unsafe.

The report revealed more than 200 weapons were found in the months leading up to the inspection and that delinquent behaviour was prevalent. It suggested staff members may also have felt unsafe.

Some boys were held in solitary confinement for 23.5 hours a days. Two boys requiring protection from their peers had been subjected to these conditions for more than 100 days.

Recommendations include more time out of cells, doing proper searches for weapons and improving teaching and access to courses like painting, catering and gardening.

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