The Ministry of Justice is to take over the running of a young offenders unit run by G4S following claims that staff abused children, it has been reported.
Allegations of abuse taking place at Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent surfaced in January following undercover filming in the unit. Staff appeared to be using excessive force to restrain children, bullying vulnerable children and giving false accounts of incidents in order to obscure abuse. Four men were subsequently arrested on suspicion of child neglect and another man was arrested on suspicion of assault. All five have been released on bail.
G4S is a private company to which a number of security units and responsibilities are outsourced by the Government. Shortly after the arrests, G4S announced its intention to sell children’s services in its ownership.
The BBC reports that the Ministry of Justice is now expected to take over the unit and that it will be run through the National Offender Management Service by the end of July.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice told The Independent: “Our priority will always be the safety and welfare of young people in custody – that is why the Justice Secretary set up an Independent Improvement Board to examine the running of Medway STC. This sits alongside a wider review of youth justice, led by Charlie Taylor. We are considering a range of options and will announce the next steps in due course.”
Shadow Minister for Justice Jo Stevens told The Independent: “The safety of children in custody should be of paramount importance. That’s why when this incident happened Labour called for all G4S prisons to be put into special measures. This action from the Government is welcome but why on earth has it taken them so long?”
When approached by The Independent, G4S declined to comment.
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