A YOUNG OFFENDER who claims he was slapped in the face by an officer at Oakhill has sparked scathing criticism of the secure training centre.
The boy, known only as B, is taking legal action against the centre.
He is being represented by the Howard League for Penal Reform, the world’s oldest prison reform charity.
Now the league has written to city MP Iain Stewart stating Oakhill subjects its young inmates to “violence, danger, fear and possibly abuse”.
It has discovered physical restraint was used 459 times on children at the centre between April 2008 and March 2009.
This is an average of 38 times a month.
Yet Oakhill has been described as “outstanding” in the past two Ofsted reports, despite the most recent one, in June last year, reporting a increase in “physically restrictive intervention” episodes.
Frances Crook, director of the Howard League, has now accused Ofsted inspectors of being “blithely uncritical” of these statistics.
She wrote: “Ofsted’s failure to acknowledge and identify the widespread and inappropriate use of restraint has left children unprotected.
“Ofsted inspections of STCs have been cursory and superficial. Inspectors have failed to consult children confidentially, particularly regarding the use of restraint.”
MP Iain Stewart described the letter from Ms Crook as a cause from concern.
He visited Oakhill STC a few weeks ago and said residents gave him positive feedback.
Now he has written to the centre asking for assurance that the new management team is addressing the “weaknesses” identified by the league.
An Ofsted spokesman told the Citizen the safety and welfare of young people is the central focus of all Ofsted’s inspections.
“The use of restraint is something that we scrutinise rigorously at every inspection,” he added.