Nick Hardwick, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, has described how conditions in Feltham Young Offenders Institution have 'deteriorated markedly' and the prison 'as a whole was an unacceptably violent place', in the March issue of Criminal Justice Matters magazine. Levels of violence witnessed by inspectors are described as 'shocking':
Violent incidents averaged at two fights or assaults every day. In some of these incidents the levels of violence, as captured by CCTV, were shocking. We saw what were clearly planned assaults, where groups of boys attacked a single victim with the plain intention of causing serious injury. What was so disturbing was not just the perpetrators’ lack of concern for the consequences for the victim – but their lack of concern for the consequences for themselves. The attacks we saw took place in full view of staff and there was no attempt to hide what was happening – indeed, the consequences of some of these incidents might have been much more serious had staff not put themselves in harm's way to rescue the victim.
In his article the Chief Inspector draws attention to the very specific requirements of young people and the urges the government to 'proceed cautiously' with reforms to the prison estate. You can read Nick Hardwick's article in full and for free here.