Troubled secure training centre branded inadequate by inspectors

A new report from Ofsted, HMI Prisons and the CQC lays bare the extent of failings at a secure training centre (STC) near Rugby, currently run by private company MTC.

06/10/21

Troubled secure training centre branded inadequate by inspectors

The troubled Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre has been downgraded to inadequate by inspectors, the lowest possible rating, after Urgent Notifications were issued at the centre in December 2020 and June 2021.

Inspectors found poor practice was placing children and staff at risk of harm, as well as failing to give vulnerable children – some as young as 14 – adequate care and support.

There are no children currently living at the centre after the Ministry of Justice ordered their removal in June, however the centre remains open.

Children and staff told inspectors of their concerns that a child or adult would be harmed or die as a result of poor practice and management in the centre. The report describes a ‘volatile culture’ where children carry weapons ‘just in case’.

Children said they felt cared for by most staff, but that the environment caused them to feel anxious and unsafe. “Of course we are not safe,” one said to inspectors, adding: “That’s just how it is.” Others warned that they thought somebody was going to die in the centre soon, a feeling which was echoed by staff, who said they feared for their own safety as well as children’s.

The report found that inadequate staffing levels placed staff in ‘an impossible position’ and unable to care for children safely, with staff resorting to leaving children unsupervised and locking them in their rooms to take a break.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, said the report revealed a litany of failures.

“Rainsbrook has once more fallen drastically short in caring for especially vulnerable children, despite being warned about poor practice last year. These children need the highest quality training, care and support to get their lives back on track. It’s vital that there is long-term, sustainable improvement at the centre.”

Inspectors found that children weren’t always taken to planned healthcare appointments, and sometimes weren’t given prescribed medication. In one instance a child, who health staff suspected had a head injury, wasn’t taken to hospital to be assessed.

Inspectors also found poor living conditions, as well as a weak education output which saw children not knowing what lessons they would be doing on a given day and learning in an unsafe environment due to acts of aggression which staff failed to de-escalate.

Staff at the centre were also found to lack skill and experience, leading to unsafe practice. Inspectors said there is too little oversight from leaders, with staff telling inspectors that they didn’t feel supported, and that poor practice is not readily identified or challenged. Ofsted says there is a disconnect between the senior leadership team and centre-wide staff. Staff and children told inspectors that the director – the third since the last full inspection – isn’t sufficiently visible.

Dr Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care at the Care Quality Commission, said that the interplay between health care staff and the centre staff is “vital” in secure training settings.

“[Children can only get the care they deserve] if both are supported, trained and able to perform their complementary roles in enabling and providing care,” said Dr Benneyworth.

“Sadly, along with concerns about their general treatment and wellbeing, we saw that vulnerable children did not always have their health care needs met and they were exposed to unnecessary risk at Rainsbrook. When the joint inspectorates visited in June, there was much to be addressed before this service could safely provide care in the future.”

The findings follow a series of negative inspection outcomes for the centre. After visits in October and December last year highlighted serious concerns – including children being kept in their rooms for up to 23.5 hours a day – the inspectorates issued an Urgent Notification (UN), requiring the Ministry of Justice to set out an action plan for improvement at the centre. While a monitoring visit in January this year showed some improvements, a second UN in June highlighted further serious issues.

Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said that children were being failed by the centre.

“In spite of the previous concerns we raised in our visits to this centre, it remained a place where children, some very damaged, were neither being kept safe, supported nor given the boundaries and education that they need in order to go on to lead successful adult lives.”

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