Beds, Herts & Bucks

Oakhill Training Centre: Staff told to cease 'pain-inducing discipline'

Oakhill Secure Training Centre Image copyright Google
Image caption Oakhill Secure Training Centre caters for up to 80 boys aged between 12 and 17

The use of pain-inducing techniques to discipline boys at a young offenders centre needs to stop immediately, the watchdog Ofsted has said.

Oakhill Secure Training Centre near Milton Keynes must also ensure children put in isolation have access to fresh air, exercise and education.

The centre has seen 132 assaults on children, 214 attacks on staff and 11 fights in the last six months.

Operator G4S said: "Progress is ongoing to address all recommendations."

In 2017, the centre - which houses 80 boys aged between 12 and 17 - was judged inadequate because staff could not "adequately control" detainees.

Ofsted inspectors found improvements had been made but said more work was needed in order for the centre to attain a rating of "good".

Although violence at the centre was rated as low level the report concluded: "Too many [fights] resulted in injures requiring medical treatment.

"This is detrimental to children's progress and experience.

"Deliberate pain-inducing techniques should not be used on children under any circumstances," inspectors recommended as an immediate policy change.

No 'quick fixes'

Child and adolescent mental health staff should work more closely with secure care officers "to help them better understand children's mental health and emotional well-being".

Other recommendations requiring immediate action included better record keeping of steps taken to refer, investigate and address allegations of abuse or harm.

"Coherent accounts of decisions taken must be recorded and the reasons for them," inspectors said.

Arrangements to tackle bullying are to be made effective and recorded.

Better incentives are recommended to discourage poor behaviour.

Richard Stedman, the training centre's director, said: "The wellbeing of the trainees in our care at Oakhill is of paramount importance.

"As the report points out, we are not looking for quick fixes but are focused on making long-term improvements.

"Healthcare and education remain key focus areas, and progress is ongoing to address all recommendations."

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