Rainsbrook’s secure training center was closed in June, following serious ongoing security concerns
Ministers did not intervene to prevent £ 23.7million in taxpayer cash from funding a failing private juvenile delinquency center.
Rainsbrook’s secure training center was closed in June, following serious ongoing security concerns.
The government was forced to intervene after it emerged that children were locked up for more than 23 hours a day at the site near Rugby in Warwickshire during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But in February last year, the Department of Justice (MOJ) approved a two-year extension for operators of MTC sites, despite inspectors who issued two improvement notices and a financial penalty the previous year. .
And in evidence given to a Justice Committee investigation of the center, it was revealed that there had been no “ministerial oversight” in extending the contract.
The Justice Department insisted that the failures reported by inspectors were not “significant returns … factors which indicated that this extension would be considered exceptional” – meaning there was no did not need ministerial approval.
All the children have now been removed from the site and transferred to other facilities and the center has closed because inspectors felt the security threat was so serious.
But US-based private holding company MTC is still being paid for the facility, which is empty, until at least 2023.
Labor shadow minister for victims and youth justice MP Anna McMorrin said: ‘Once again, the Tories have been reckless with public finances and contracts, and their neglect is hurting efforts to reduce crime and rehabilitation.
“This is yet another damning reflection of the appalling mismanagement by the Conservatives of the youth justice system, which undermines the rehabilitation of children and puts people at increased risk of reoffending.
“Labor has strongly called for an independent review of youth custody. Ministers must be accountable for their failures and explain how they will tackle the crisis in detention that their decisions have created. “
A private prison run by MTC in Mississippi was closed in 2016, after a federal judge said it “struggles with disorder, periodic chaos and staff incompetence, which poses perpetual danger to them. inmates and staff ”.
In 2019, the state was still repaying the £ 97.4million in debt related to the prison construction and maintenance contract.
A spokesperson for the U.S. branch of MTC said the decision was made to close Walnut Grove jail in Mississippi for budgetary reasons.
They said that while they were in charge of the prison, the company had “made many improvements to the safety and security systems, resulting in a decrease in the total number of incidents.”
And they added: “The American Civil Liberties Union has recognized the positive changes that have taken place in the prison and acknowledged that the state and MTC have made ‘significant improvements’ to the facility.”
In response to the government’s decision to move the children out of Rainsbrook earlier this year, MTC challenged the findings of Ofsted’s latest inspection of the facility.
In a statement, the company said, “The welfare of the children we care for at Rainsbrook Secure Training Center (STC) is our priority and in partnership with the Department of Justice (MoJ) we have worked hard to meet the recommendations of Ofsted following its control in December 2020.
“Based on previous positive reviews, including Ofsted’s follow-up visit in January, we were very surprised to receive Ofsted’s feedback at the end of the inspection last week. We have a number of concerns about their approach and ultimately the conclusions they reached. We plan to vigorously challenge this during the fact-checking process. Despite repeated requests, the information underlying Ofsted’s assessment has still not been shared with us, raising further concerns about their approach.
“Since December 2020, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, we have worked hard to follow up on Ofsted’s recommendations and during a follow-up visit in January, Ofsted inspectors acknowledged that progress had been made. been made.
“Our mission has always been to improve the lives of those we care for and we will work constructively and collaboratively with the Department of Justice as Rainsbrook’s future is considered in the days and weeks to come.”
A spokesperson for the Youth Custody Service said: “The decision to extend the TCM contract at Rainsbrook Secure Training Center was taken in November 2019, more than a year before the urgent notification.
“As Ofsted noted, many of the issues that led to this have been exacerbated by the pandemic. We are currently considering the future of Rainsbrook, and an announcement will be made on this in due course once discussions with the supplier are completed. “