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Action plan at Oakhill STC to address failings

Children held at Oakhill Secure Training Centre will benefit from more education and time out of cell as part of measures to improve the failings at the centre, the government has announced.

Prisons Minister Victoria Atkins has outlined urgent action to address the ‘unacceptable’ failings at the STC in Milton Keynes run by G4S.

The move follows a joint inspection which found that children and young people at Oakhill were being held in their rooms for 23 hours a day. The Ofsted inspection in October triggered an Urgent Notification (UN).

Prisons Minister Victoria Atkins MP said: “The findings at Oakhill were completely unacceptable and we are considering all options.”

“Action needs to be swift to ensure these vulnerable children are given the best chance to turn their lives around in a calm, safe and secure environment,” she added.

Since inspectors issued their notification last month, improvements have been implemented:

  • A new permanent director is being appointed to strengthen leadership and operational control.
  • Senior staff are to receive specialist training in safeguarding processes.
  • Children are getting at least 12 hours per day out of their room.
  • Children are receiving a minimum of 25 hours of face-to-face education each week.
  • The number of children at Oakhill has also been temporarily reduced to a maximum of 40, to provide further stability.
  • Additional experienced staff are being deployed to help drive down violence and deliver more activities.
  • An expert in minimising use of force has been recruited to give staff the confidence to challenge poor behaviour without the use of restraint.
  • More staff have been allocated to the on-site safeguarding team to ensure faster and more thorough referrals to local authorities and healthcare teams when there are concerns.
  • The site has been refurbished.

The government introduced the Urgent Notification protocol in 2017 to ensure immediate action is taken to address serious concerns identified by inspectors. The process is triggered when inspectorates write to the Justice Secretary following an inspection, with Ministers having 28 days to respond and set out a detailed action plan.

The Youth Custody Service will continue to monitor performance and ensure further steps are taken to improve the care and wellbeing of children at the site in Milton Keynes.

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