Report damns management of child jail

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S FIRST privately run children's jail is badly designed, poorly managed and employs staff with inadequate experience, according to a scathing report by government inspectors to be published today.

The Home Office minister Paul Boateng will use the report to issue a stinging rebuke to Rebound, the Group 4 subsidiary that runs the jail. The company has been ordered to carry out changes to the jail building and its staff structure.

The Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent has had a troubled history since it opened last April to cater for persistent offenders aged 12 to 14.

It was the scene of rioting in June and three months later it was visited by a team from the Department of Health's Social Security Inspectorate, who were said to be deeply concerned. Some of the weapons used were pieces of metal and plaster, which had been prised from the building's structure.

The report is understood to criticise the jail's management for the high turnover of staff, 30 of whom have left since the centre opened. It is also expected to highlight the failure of the centre to ensure that the child inmates were given the agreed amount of education and physical activity.

Rebound, which has seen the report, is understood to have protested to the Government that the children placed in its care were more disruptive and from more damaged backgrounds than they had been led to expect.

The jail's managers are also believed to have told inspectors that Medway was designed exactly to agreed specifications, which would have been sufficient had many of the children not continued to repeat long-held practices of absconding and violence.

Offenders at the jail have been convicted of an average of seven offences and have been excluded from school for an average period of three years. A government official said last night: "I don't think [Rebound] realised what they were getting into. Some of these kids have no fear."