Press release

New approach to the inspection of secure training centres

Ofsted and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) have published a consultation on a new joint framework for the inspection of secure training centres.

Secure training centres (STCs) are custodial institutions for young offenders aged between 10 and 17. Generally, they provide for young people between 12 and 15. Ofsted has been responsible for inspecting them since 2007.

Under proposals inspectors will make judgements on how well young people in the centre are kept safe, on how well behaviour is managed, the promotion of their health, wellbeing, and education, and on the effectiveness of planning for their resettlement when they leave. There will be a strong focus on seeking young people’s views including, wherever possible, following up the views of young people who have been discharged.

Inspectors will pay particular attention to the use of physical restraint. The minimum requirement will be that restraint is only ever used as a last resort, to protect the young person themselves or other people from serious harm, for the minimum amount of time necessary, and by trained staff, using approved techniques. To be judged as good or outstanding, the standards set will be even higher.

John Goldup, Deputy Chief Inspector said:

Secure training centres work with young people who have committed sometimes serious criminal offences. But they are also very vulnerable children, some of them not even teenagers, who require high levels of care and support. The development of joint Ofsted and HMIP inspection teams, supported by the Care Quality Commission, will bring together the complementary skills and expertise of the different inspectorates in a new partnership which will ensure that inspection focuses on improving outcomes for young people. The new framework will have a rigorous focus on ensuring that the safeguarding and welfare of young people is safeguarded and promoted.

We would welcome responses to the consultation from everybody involved in the sector and from everybody with an interest in the care and rehabilitation of young people.

Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons said:

We are very pleased to be extending our work with Ofsted into this important area. The consultation process is an important part of making sure we get the inspection process right and so we are looking forward to receiving the views of children and young people themselves, providers and others who care about what happens to children and young people in custody.

The new joint framework has been developed following the recommendations of the independent review of restraint in juvenile secure settings carried out by Peter Smallridge and Andrew Williamson in 2008, and the government and parliamentary response to that review. Inspection teams will be led by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of social care from Ofsted, and will include other Ofsted inspectors with expertise in social care, education and skills, as well as inspectors from both HMI Prisons and the Care Quality Commission.

Other issues considered by inspectors will include the safety of young people at risk of self-harm or suicide, ensuring that they are identified at an early stage and provided with individual care and support throughout their time in the centre. They will also look at the achievements of young people in attaining learning goals and qualifications that will help them to progress to further education, training or employment on release.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

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Published 3 April 2012