Inspection highlights good care at HMYOI Werrington but finds violence still a problem

By agency reporter
May 1, 2020

HMYOI Werrington, a young offender institution (YOI) in Staffordshire, was found to be improving in many areas, with good care for the children detained, but high levels of violence remained a challenge, says a report published on 30 April 2020.

Werrington holds up to 118 children aged between 15 and 17. It is inspected annually and inspectors from HM Inspectorate of Prisons visited in January 2020. Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “We found a well-led institution where effective partnership work was starting to lead to improvements in all of our tests of a healthy establishment.”

“Outcomes in care had improved and were now good, our highest grade. Outcomes in purposeful activity and resettlement remained reasonably good.”

However, Mr Clarke added, despite some progress, high levels of violence meant outcomes were still not sufficiently good for safety.
The governor had led efforts to reduce the number of children who needed to be kept apart from each other and there was good support for children who would otherwise be self-isolating on normal location.

“Better oversight of separation was leading to an improved regime for separated children, but weaknesses in behaviour management identified at the previous inspection remained and, ultimately, levels of violence against both staff and children were still too high”, Mr Clarke added.

Outcomes in care had improved. Inspectors observed good relationships between staff and children, with many examples of staff working patiently with children. Managers had improved consultation and systems for redress were impressive: complaints were thoroughly investigated, a large proportion were upheld and children regularly received apologies when appropriate. “This helped establish a culture that was open to challenge and learned from mistakes.”

Time out of cell was reasonably good for most children, and access to the gym and library was good. Prison and education managers had improved attendance, which was now consistently over 90 per cent. The reduction in the number of keep apart issues meant more children could access courses that met their needs, and most made good progress. However, behaviour was not well managed in some sessions.

Resettlement work was reasonably good and there had been improvements in the use of release on temporary licence (ROTL) to support this. However, public protection measures were undermined by a lack of oversight of risk management and release preparations for children who posed high risk of serious harm.

Overall, Mr Clarke said: “This is a positive report. The decline in outcomes we found at the previous inspection has been halted, and, in care, reversed. In other areas recent improvements need more time to become embedded and have a measurable impact on outcomes.”

Helga Swidenbank, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Executive Director for Youth Custody Service, said: “This is an encouraging report and I congratulate the governor and her staff for their efforts. Children at Werrington are well supported on arrival and have good relationships with staff, and more than 90 per cent of them are attending classes that will help prepare them for life outside of custody. We are continuing to look at ways we can reduce violent behaviour including work to resolve conflicts, and we have installed better CCTV to examine incidents after they happen.”

* The report can be read here

* Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons


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