Youth custody centres ‘so unsafe a tragedy is inevitable’

Youth custody centres in England and Wales are so unsafe that a “tragedy” is “inevitable”, the chief inspector of prisons has said. Peter Clarke wrote to ministers earlier this year, after what he says was such a “staggering” decline in standards. Launching his annual report, he said not a single establishment inspected was safe to hold young people. The Ministry of Justice said the safety and welfare of those in its care was an “absolute priority”. Mr Clarke said prisons for men had also become worse over the past year with “startling” increases in violence.

Our CEO Andrez Harriott commented:

“Although I recognise this report and its appalling findings, I also see very positive work being delivered across the young people’s estate and this should also be recognised. The complex needs of the young people currently held and the interconnectivity between community violence and violence within custody should not be overlooked. These children and young people try to avoid each other in the community but this becomes harder when they inevitably meet in custody. In addition, custody is now reserved for the most high-risk and complex young people. It is not a surprise that packing these vulnerable and damaged young people together will increase violent incidents.

Our work within custody to reduce violent incidents, in partnership with the conflict resolution teams has shown a 100% success rate in meditations. This is achieved by understanding the dynamics within the community and custodial settings. Moving forwards, we must train prison staff to understand these dynamics and do more to address the underline thinking within young people surrounding violence.

Many of these children and young people have received inadequate justice following fatal attacks against friends and family. They are coping with this loss and often find out that the perpetrators or their associates are now within the same young offender prison that they are in. We must look deeper to understand”.

Full report available here:


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