Press release

YJB response to Medway Improvement Board report

The Youth Justice Board (YJB) responds to a written ministerial statement by the Secretary of State for Justice resulting from a report by the Medway Improvement Board published today.

Youth Justice Board for England and Wales

The Ministry of Justice has today published the findings of the Medway Improvement Board, as well as its response to its recommendations. The Board was set up by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, to look into the running of Medway Secure Training Centre, after an undercover investigation by the BBC Panorama programme, broadcast in January, revealed staff there were mistreating children.

Lord McNally, Chair of the Youth Justice Board, responding to these findings said:

The Panorama programme triggered an immediate review by the YJB into why neither we, nor others, had identified the totally unacceptable behaviour by staff at Medway STC.

As a matter of urgency, we enhanced our existing monitoring. We have now developed a more wide-ranging, robust and diverse system of monitoring for all STCs. This will deliver the greater scrutiny that is essential to protect children in custody. In this context we welcome the addition of STC governing bodies to support this work.

We already actively advise ministers of our concerns about the secure estate and will continue to do so. We welcome the short term targeted input the new youth custody improvement board can provide to help make improvements for children in custody.

The YJB feels very strongly that the custodial system for children and young people should be provided by highly skilled and specialist staff, operating in smaller units across the regions. For that reason we have supported the direction outlined in the interim report on the future of youth justice services by Charlie Taylor, published earlier this year.

In responding to the issues at Medway, and in the context of promised longer-term reform, we recognise that the Secretary of State has limited options. He has asked NOMS to run Medway STC as an interim measure and the YJB is providing guidance to NOMS on working with children in the STC sector.

We have been assured this is an interim solution at Medway STC that will be a separate and distinct service to the one NOMS provides in under 18 YOIs and will operate independently from NOMS’ core business running adult prisons.

Notes to editors

The Medway Improvement Board report and the written ministerial statement are on the Ministry of Justice website

Youth Justice Board media enquiries

Youth Justice Board press office
102 Petty France
London
SW1H 9AJ

Published 12 May 2016