Parc is easily the best performing Young Offender Institution in England and Wales, the chief inspector of prisons has said.
Following an unannounced inspection of HMYOI Parc situated just outside Bridgend in South Wales, Peter Clarke said other young offender institutions could learn a lot from Parc.
"Overall, Parc is easily the best performing YOI in England and Wales. It has the advantage of being smaller in size than some of its comparators, but that should not be used by others as an excuse for not taking full and proper notice of what has been achieved.
"In recent times we have had to publish some troubling findings from our inspections at other YOIs. I would suggest that there is much to learn from Parc, and that practitioners and others involved in the development of policy and delivery of operations in children’s custody should pay close attention to this report," he added.
The report said the inspection was "very positive" and while the grades awarded were the same as at the last inspection, this does not mean that the establishment was either failing to make further progress or was ‘resting on its laurels’.
Inspectors found Parc was reasonably good in tests of safety and resettlement, and good, the highest grade, in care and purposeful activity.
Coming into custody, particularly for the first time, can be an unsettling and disturbing time for a child and Parc paid gave considerable attention to this area.
Information about new arrivals was received in advance, enabling staff to prepare and, where possible, when a child arrived he would be met by his allocated key worker, so that there was a degree of continuity and consistency during the journey into custody. The overwhelming majority of children told inspectors that they felt safe during their first night at Parc.
The positive relationships between staff and children underpinned much of what had been achieved at Parc and inspectors saw many good examples of positive interactions between staff and children, particularly in the education sessions.
All meals were taken communally, which was the complete opposite of other establishments where this rarely happens. The daily regime for the children was also in stark contrast to what had been seen elsewhere as all of the children were out of their cells during the day.
The children at Parc were drawn from a very wide catchment area, with less than half coming from Wales and as a result, there were bound to be challenges in providing effective resettlement, the report said. It recommends that more needs to be done to refocus the strategic direction and management of this work and it emerged as one of four key concerns arising from the inspection.
"There is obviously a balance between what an individual prison can achieve in this is respect, and those issues for which it is dependent upon the efforts of other partners and agencies. Experience tells us that resettlement needs consistent and persistent work to achieve results, and it was reassuring to see that Parc was putting pressure on partners in the community to provide for the resettlement needs of children on their release," said Mr Clarke.
Alongside the issues with resettlement, the inspection highlighted concerns around:
- For some children there were still delays in enabling them to make phone calls during their first few days in the prison.
- There were also poorer perceptions of the fairness of the incentives and earned privileges scheme from black and minority ethnic children, and the reasons for these perceptions needed to be understood.
- There was also a concern that child and adolescent mental health services were not delivering treatment and interventions in line with national standards.
"However, these concerns should not be allowed to overshadow the work that was delivering good outcomes for the children being held at Parc. We found many examples of good practice, but which in addition include the management and support for victims and perpetrators of violence, the help given to children to stay in contact with their families, the presence of dedicated nurses on the children’s unit and the help given to children to work towards achieving their sentence targets," Peter Clarke concluded.
Report on an unannounced inspection of HMYOI Parc by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Diane Wills is Consultant Social Worker at WillisPalmer, responsible for quality assuring the forensic risk assessment reports.
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