52 incidents of abuse and neglect proved at 'children's prison' in Milton Keynes
Oakhill Secure Training Centre has seen 52 confirmed incidents of abuse and neglect of young people over the past three years, the Milton Keynes Citizen can reveal.
The children's detention facility also had 27 members of staff who were the subject of police investigation over the same period.
The figures have been released by Milton Keynes Council after a request by the charity Article 39, which fights for the rights of children living in state and privately-run institutions.
They showed that there were 98 allegations of abuse and neglect at the centre between 2016 and 2019 – and 52 of them were deemed to be substantiated after investigation.
Oakhill STC is operated by G4S Care and Justice Services and provides accommodation for up to 80 male children aged between 12 to 17 years who are serving a custodial sentence or who are remanded to custody by the courts.
The last Ofsted report, in April 2019, deemed the centre to be requiring improvement. Inspectors said there had been 132 assaults on children, 214 assaults on staff and 11 fights in the last six months.
Their report stated: “A high proportion of these incidents are of a comparatively lower level, but too many resulted in injures requiring medical treatment.”
Carolyne Willow, director of Article 39 charity, said: “If families or children’s homes were subjecting children to this level of risk, they would have child protection social workers knocking at their doors.”
She added: “Child abuse is wrong wherever it occurs and these latest revelations show yet again that prisons are desperately unsafe places for children....Every child, no matter where they live, has the right to feel and be safe. If you cannot provide this basic level of security, then there is simply no chance of turning around a child’s life.”
Carolyne said government ministers agreed nearly three years ago that children should be moved out of prisons. Yet not a single institution has been closed, she said.
The government intends to establish secure schools to replace existing youth custody centres. Their aim is to place a greater focus on the education and rehabilitation of young offenders, improving safety in the youth secure estate and reducing re-offending.
The first such school is due to open later this year on the site of Medway STC in Kent.