'A review into the alleged abuse of children by staff at a children’s prison has found that a series of failings led to an “erratic and ineffective” monitoring of investigations into the claims.
The serious case review criticises a contract between the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and Barnardo’s, which was acting as an independent advocate for the children, that “expressly did not allow” the charity to refer concerns about child protection to the local authority responsible for their welfare.
The review into Medway secure training centre was undertaken in 2016 after an undercover Panorama documentary alleged staff at the centre, then run by the security firm G4S, appeared to be mistreating and abusing inmates, and boasting about using inappropriate techniques to restrain children. Other allegations included staff trying to hide their actions by ensuring they were in areas not covered by CCTV cameras.
A subsequent investigation by the Guardian revealed a history of abuse allegations at the centre in Rochester, Kent, and that a letter sent by two whistleblowers 12 years earlier to the YJB, G4S, the Social Services Inspectorate and a Home Office minister had been ignored. G4S was stripped of its contract to run Medway STC the day the Guardian published its exposé.
Now the serious case review, published by Medway Safeguarding Children Board, has highlighted the toothlessness of the children’s charity commissioned by the YJB in 2013 to deliver advocacy services across the young people’s secure estate of England and Wales. As advocates, Barnardo’s responsibility was to debrief inmates after they had been restrained and ensure they had not been abused.'
Read more: Monitoring of abuse claims at children's prison 'ineffective'
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