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Rainsbrook contract ends ‘by mutual agreement’

The contract between the government and MTC to run Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre has ended after a ‘mutual agreement’ was reached.

Children were removed from the privately run secure training centre in June after concerns were raised several times about the care provided to children and young people held there, including concerns from Ofsted over safety and performance.

The Ministry of Justice and provider MTC agreed to negotiate the future of its contract, following the decision in June and mutual decision has now been reached to terminate the agreement, ensuring there is no further cost to the taxpayer.

Prisons Minister Victoria Atkins said: “The welfare of the children in custody is our absolute priority which is why we took immediate action to remove them from Rainsbrook in the summer.

“Ending the contract means we can now refocus our resources on supporting these often-vulnerable children lead crime-free lives as adults,” she added.

The 87-place youth secure establishment in Warwickshire has faced criticism on a number of occasions. This time last year, a joint inspection by HMI Prisons, the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted found that children and young people were spending 23.5 hours per day in their rooms after they arrived at the centre and were, potentially, at their most vulnerable.

The joint inspection said there was “no rationale” to support the practice of holding new inmates in isolation for 23.5 hours per day for two weeks in order for them to self-isolate in line with COVID-19 guidance. Inspectors said the practice “is tantamount to solitary confinement and is highly likely to be damaging to their emotional and physical well-being”.

In January the three inspectorates issued a rare urgent notification (UN) to the Secretary of State for Justice because of continued poor care and leadership at the MTC-run centre near Rugby calling for an end to the ‘bleak regime’ there.

The House of Commons Justice Select Committee were then left “shocked and appalled” at the treatment of the children held in the STC following an evidence session about Rainsbrook .

In June all children were removed from the centre following an instruction from Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland after he had seen preliminary findings of another Ofsted inspection slammed the centre as ‘inadequate’. Once published, the inspection report found that children held at Rainsbrook STC were placed at risk of harm as a result of serious and widespread failings at the centre.

Since June, the 33 young offenders previously at Rainsbrook have been moved elsewhere in the youth estate, transitioned to an adult prison or reached their release date.

Yet in October, MTC which operates the centre disputed the findings of the report, saying that the report was based on opinion, rather than evidence. “We are disappointed in Ofsted’s report published today. It does not acknowledge the progress employees and partners have made at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC) despite the challenges faced throughout the pandemic. Much of the report’s findings are based on opinion and are not always supported by evidence. We will continue to vigorously challenge Ofsted’s finding through the formal complaints process. MTC have always been committed to delivering good quality care to the children we had responsibility for and are saddened that Ofsted have failed to recognise this,” the statement said.

Following the latest move, staff are being supported to find new jobs and options are being considered over the future use of the building.

A statement from MTC said: “Over the past four years, MTC has committed significant investment into Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC), investing in employee training, new ICT systems and introducing new management disciplines. Previous Ofsted reports have acknowledged the improvements made since we took over in 2016. The impact covid-19 had on the operations of the centre was significant, it is disappointing that Ofsted failed to acknowledge this in their most recent report

“There are wider challenges, associated with the model and structure of STCs, which were established at the turn of the century in a different era. At that time, there were around 2,800 children in custody, peaking at over 3,000 in 2008. In March 2021, there were just over 500 children in custody, thanks to the work done to divert children elsewhere and develop other approaches. While this is undoubtedly positive, it means that the children remaining in custody have the most complex needs and the most challenging behaviour.

“We have therefore agreed to mutually end the Rainsbrook STC contract on Friday 31 December 2021. Our primary goal now, as the centre closes, is to support our employees and partners,” the statement concluded.

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