Staff shortages, bullying and fears someone was going to die - why children were evacuated from Rainsbrook STC

Ofsted has issued a statement on the shocking conditions inside the centre

Rainsbrook STC.
Rainsbrook STC.

Lat week, June 16, Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland announced he had ordered all 33 children being held at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre to be removed for their safety.

The centre, which holds children aged from 12 to 17, had been plagued with safety concerns for years.

And now accounts published by Ofsted, HMI Prisons and the Care Quality Commission reveal some of the shocking conditions in the centre which led to the Lord Chancellor's radical decision to evacuate it.

A spokesperson for Ofsted said: "During a June inspection, children and staff told inspectors that they did not feel safe, fearing that someone was going to die or be seriously harmed.

"Levels of violence and staff use of force are high. Physical assaults between children are common, and children are able to bully and intimidate each other.

"Inspectors found that unsafe practice still continues and is not being appropriately dealt with, while the disconnect between senior leaders and staff on the ground has deteriorated since previous visits."

More key findings by inspectors included:

.The centre has struggled to recruit and retain enough staff with the right skills to care for vulnerable children. Staff shortages mean that units often only have one member of staff on duty

.Lapses in security are placing children at risk. Searching procedures are poor and there is increased evidence of staff bringing prohibited items into the centre

.Education provision is poor, with children making little progress. Inspectors saw instances of aggression that took staff too long to de-escalate, making the learning environment unsafe. On two occasions, children were seen locked in classrooms unsupervised

.Children aren’t always being taken to medical appointments or are taken late, and as a result are sometimes refused treatment. Children are often going without their prescribed medication, putting their health at risk.

Six months ago the centre, which has been run by for-profit company MTC since 2015, was issued with an 'Urgent Notification' following a negative inspection.

The evacuation of the children was triggered by a lack of improvement since this notification - and the centre has now been issued with a new 'Urgent Notification'.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said: “Despite being warned about serious failings last year, it’s astounding to see that Rainsbrook has deteriorated even further, leaving children and staff fearing for their safety.

"These are incredibly vulnerable children – some as young as 14 – who need specialist care.

"The pandemic has been challenging, but that is no excuse for poor practice and leadership. It’s vital that long-term, sustainable improvement is secured at the centre.”

Charlie Taylor, chief inspector of Prisons, said: “It is hugely disappointing that in spite of the previous Urgent Notification, things have deteriorated at the STC with children and staff members not being kept safe.

"It is essential that the troubled and often challenging children who come into the STC are urgently provided with the right levels of care and support.”

Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care at CQC, said: “As joint inspectorates, our priority is making sure that the care, safety and well-being of the children at this secure training centre is front and centre.

"Where we have concerns, we take proportionate action to drive improvement and the decision to issue an urgent notice is not taken lightly.

“While the reasons for taking this step do not relate specifically to the healthcare provision at Rainsbrook STC, we are concerned about the impact that these issues can have on the well-being of children and young people at the service.”