Comment on damning new report on G4S-run Oakhill

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The controversial security company G4S should be stripped of its contract to run Oakhill secure training centre, the Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, Richard Garside, said today, following a damning Ofsted report on the institution.

Richard also called for the government to close the three secure training centres – Medway, Oakhill and Rainsbrook – as part of a plan to end the imprisonment of children.

The damning report on Oakhill is only the latest scandal to hit the controversial security company. G4S lost a contract to run the Rainsbrook secure training centre in September 2015, following a critical Ofsted report earlier that year.

In July 2016, the management of another G4S-run secure training centre, Medway, was handed over to the Youth Justice Board, after a BBC Panorama programme exposed widespread abuse of the prisoners by G4S staff.

Earlier this month the Justice Minister, Phillip Lee, told the House of Commons Justice Committee that he was satisfied that G4S was fulfilling its contractual obligations at Oakhill. He also told the Committee that G4S was 'passionate about doing a good job at Oakhill' and was 'determined to continue to deliver a service'.

But he told the Committee that he would not rule out forcing the company to surrender its contract to run Oakhill if there was 'any doubt' about G4S' ability to fufil its obligations.

Speaking today, the Centre's director, Richard Garside, said:

This is the third secure training centre in as many years where G4S has appeared incapable of running safe and secure services for imprisoned children and young people.

It concerns me greatly that the Justice Minister, Phillip Lee, told MPs earlier this month that G4S was providing a 'satisfactory' service at Oakhill. This was clearly not the case when he made this statement. He now needs to make good on his commitment to end the G4S contract.

Secure training centres are neither secure for the children imprisoned, nor do they prepare children for adult life. The government should end this failed experiment and close all three centres.

It would be a fitting legacy if Oakhill, and those other children's prisons, Rainsbrook and Medway, were razed to the ground and something fit for human habitation built in their place.

Richard's comments were covered by The Times in its coverage (£) of the Ofsted report.