Following a damning report, a private security company lost its contract to run a juvenile detention center in the United Kingdom, then later said it intends to sell off its UK-based juvenile operations.
Until May 2016, the Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC), located in Northamptonshire, England, was operated by private contractor G4S. [See: PLN, July 2016, p.24]. Rainsbrook houses boys and girls aged 12 to 18, and is subject to oversight by the British government. In February 2015, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED), in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice’s Inspectorate of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission, issued a report that slammed the facility as “inadequate.”
The heavily-redacted OFSTED report was released to Article 39, a children’s rights advocacy group, and made public by The Guardian in May 2015.
The Rainsbrook STC, which at the time it was inspected held 77 children, was accused of “serious incidents of gross misconduct ... by staff, including some who were in positions of leadership.... Poor staff behavior has led to some young people being subject to degrading treatment, racist comments, and being cared for by staff who were under the influence of illegal drugs,” with children at the facility being subjected to “distress and humiliation.”
Rainsbrook has a history of staff abuse. In 2004, a youth at the facility, 15-year-old Gareth Myatt, died four days after being hospitalized for asphyxiation after being held down by three guards. He had choked on his own vomit while being restrained.
The OFSTED report found that more recently another child who had been restrained by facility staff received a fractured wrist, which was not treated for over 15 hours after the incident.
In 2012, the UK’s High Court held that three STCs operated by G4S had been carrying out unlawful restraints for over a decade.
Such incidents prompted Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, to term the OFSTED report on operations at Rainsbrook “the worst report on a prison I have ever seen.”
“I visited Rainsbrook some years ago and found it to be claustrophobic and obsessed with security, a recipe for exactly the disaster now happening,” said Crook. “These child jails run for profit are secretive and should never have been set up in the first place.”
Rainsbrook is one of four privately-operated secure juvenile facilities in the UK.
In response to the firestorm of criticism following OFSTED’s findings, G4S commissioned its own report by Sir Martin Narey, who said his “independent” inspection found the facility was “a safe place for children and young people.” Nevertheless, the organizations that referred children to Rainsbrook remained unconvinced.
Following the release of the OFSTED report, G4S fired at least six staff members, including some high-ranking employees.
The company lost its contract to operate Rainsbrook in September 2015 but continued to run the facility on a short-term basis until another contractor, MTCnovo, a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Management & Training Corporation, could take over. Around that same time, G4S won a contract for its renewed operation of Medway STC in Kent.
However, G4S announced in February 2016 that it intended to sell off its UK juvenile services holdings, consisting of two STCs and 13 children’s homes, after the company learned it was going to lose its Medway management contract.
Sources: www.theguardian.com, www.independent.co.uk, https://opendemocracy.net
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