Feltham youth jail violence: 20 prison officers injured after 'completely unacceptable series of assaults'

Campaigners say violence in youth jail indicates 'very serious breakdown in care'

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
@maybulman
Tuesday 09 April 2019 11:42
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Some 20 staff at Feltham Young Offenders Institution (YOI) were injured in separate incidents over the weekend, 13 of whom required hospital treatment, the Prison Service said
Some 20 staff at Feltham Young Offenders Institution (YOI) were injured in separate incidents over the weekend, 13 of whom required hospital treatment, the Prison Service said

More than a dozen prison officers were taken to hospital after an outbreak of violence at a youth jail in London.

Some 20 staff at Feltham Young Offenders Institution (YOI) were injured in separate incidents over the weekend, 13 of whom required hospital treatment, the Prison Service said. The have all now been discharged.

The young people who carried out the violence will face adjudication hearings over the next few days and could face prosecution.

The Prison Officers Association (POA) said staff would push for charges. Campaigners meanwhile warned that the violence was a symptom of the YOI being an “unsuitable” place for troubled children.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “A completely unacceptable series of assaults on staff at Feltham over the weekend led to 20 officers receiving injuries, with 13 needing hospital treatment.

”Our sympathies are with those hard-working and committed staff, who deserve to be able to carry out their jobs without facing this kind of behaviour.”

When inspectors visited Feltham last January, they found violence had dropped dramatically after inmates were offered credits for a sweet shop and other rewards for good behaviour.

But fears have been raised about the lack of out-of-cell activity, with the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) outgoing chief inspector of general practice recently voicing concern about inmates “locked up in their cells on their own for most of the day”.

Mark Fairhurst, national chairman of the POA, said the recent violence was “not acceptable”.

“Replace the term ‘children’ with ‘violent young criminal’ and you more accurately describe what POA Union members in the juvenile estate face. We will support staff and push for prosecutions,” he tweeted.

But Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Feltham has a long history of failing to support damaged children. The prison is ill-equipped to deal with troubled children.

“If heeded, the call from the union representing some of the prison staff for the use of unlawful punishments on children in their care will only fuel more violence.”

Carolyne Willow, director of charity Article 39, said the outbreak of violence indicated a ”very serious breakdown in care” and highlighted the “unsuitability” of Feltham as a place to send children.

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She added: “Children who cannot live safely within our communities must be held in secure settings where skilled staff have the resources and support to properly meet their needs. The closure of this prison is long overdue.

“The events over the weekend must have been terrifying for both children and staff, though of course children are trapped in the institution 24 hours a day.”

Additional reporting by PA

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