HMIP report praises Military Corrective Training Centre

By agency reporter
March 4, 2018

The Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) in Colchester, the only secure training centre for the armed services, has had very good inspections in recent years and 2017 proved no exception, according to HM Chief Inspector of Prison, Peter Clarke.

Inspectors found the MCTC to be safe, decent and purposeful and could not recall ever having been to a more respectful institution. It exuded “an extraordinarily strong ethos where the care and rehabilitation of the detainees was the unequivocal and overriding objective.” Drugs and violence were virtually unknown.

Activities were tailored to whether detainees were going to return to their units or to civilian life on discharge. In either case, Mr Clarke said, “the quality of what was available was high.”  Detainees who had been held in the MCTC frequently returned to their units with better military skills and physically fitter than when they entered the centre, and often achieved promotion. A good range of accredited qualifications was available for those who were returning to civilian life.”

However, Mr Clarke said, there was “one potentially serious deficiency that was beyond the control of the centre” –  the lack of post-release supervision or statutory engagement from the public authorities responsible for public protection arrangements for higher-risk violent or sex offenders. “This arose because of a statutory anomaly that does not include the military in the arrangements that apply to non-military offenders on release. This meant that the few offenders being released into the community who presented a high risk of harm to others were being released without proper supervision or risk-management.”

The report noted that at the time of the inspection, the centre held eight sex offenders and at least two perpetrators of domestic violence. “Protecting the public from harm by those detainees who had been convicted of serious criminal offences was hampered by two issues. Firstly, those released did not have a period of statutory probation supervision (as they would have done if they were being released from prison). Secondly, while those convicted of an offence within Schedule 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (and sentenced to 112 days or more at the MCTC) were placed on the Sex Offender Register (SOR), the Ministry of Defence was not recognised as a ‘responsible authority’ or a ‘duty to cooperate’ agency under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) legislation.”

As a result, the report added, with the exception of SOR requirements managed by Essex Police, offenders “who would normally have been managed under MAPPA were not.” Mr Clarke said that HMIP had made a specific recommendation to the Ministry of Defence on this public protection issue and “as an Inspectorate would support the necessary policy or legal changes.”

Overall, Mr Clarke added: “It was refreshing for HM Inspectorate of Prisons to inspect a training centre where drugs and violence were virtually unknown, and where the culture was incredibly positive, forward-looking and not at all punitive. It was also notable that, since the last inspection in 2014, our previous recommendations had clearly been taken seriously, with the vast majority being fully implemented. I am confident that the recommendations flowing from this inspection will be treated in a similarly positive fashion. We are confident that the MCTC will continue to provide an excellent model of a corrective training establishment.”

* Read the report, published on 2 March 2018, here

* HM Inspectorate of Prisons


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