Stoke & Staffordshire

Fighting 'common' at Werrington youth jail

Fighting at a young offenders institute in Staffordshire is common and poor is behaviour often left unchallenged, an inspection has found.

The HM Inspectorate of Prisons report into Werrington Young Offenders Institute said facilities were "shabby" and there was little for boys to do.

The Howard League for Penal Reform described it as "warehouse conditions".

The National Offender Management Service said it was improving discipline and education for the boys.

The report said the institute had "slipped back" in a number of areas since its last inspection in 2011 and often there was "too little" for the young people to do, which did not help to create a "purposeful and constructive ethos".

'Shabby facilities'

It said only one-in-20 young people questioned during the inspection in August said they could exercise in the fresh air every day, compared with the one-in-two inspectors would see on average across other institutes.

It added staff and boys both had low expectations of each other and said the young people had little confidence in the complaints system.

However, inspectors said Werrington had a "number of strengths", including the relationships between staff and boys which was "generally friendly" and there was good care for the most vulnerable offenders.

Andrew Neilson, from the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: "The very least one can expect of a boys' prison is that the children are kept in conditions which are safe and hygienic.

"This hasn't been the case at Werrington, where fighting is commonplace and the facilities are so shabby that boys have been unable to shower or change their underwear daily."

He added he was concerned at the lack of "purposeful activity".

Mr Neilson said: "The public deserves better than to have children kept in warehouse-like conditions, lying about in bed all day."

The institute holds up to 160 boys mostly aged 16 or 17 years old.

The National Offender Management Service, which runs Werrington, said: "The governor is working with his staff to deliver a clearer and more consistent approach to discipline and to ensure further improvements are made in the provision of education and vocational training."

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