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Youth jail inmates able to watch sexually-explicit TV content, report finds

YOUNG inmates have been able to watch sexually-explicit content on television at a scandal-hit youth jail judged inadequate by Ofsted following its latest inspection.

Managers at Medway Secure Training Centre (STC) in Kent have taken steps to avoid a repeat of the explicit viewing but they are not yet in place, inspectors said.

The disclosure emerged in a damning Ofsted report which rated the safety of young people, effectiveness of leaders and managers and the promoting of positive behaviour at the STC as inadequate.

The centre, which houses up to 76 male and female inmates aged 12 to 18, was the subject of an undercover BBC Panorama programme last year showing alleged abuse and mistreatment of youngsters.

Kent Police has charged a number of staff employed at the time.

The Government announced in the wake of the broadcast that it would take over management of the former G4S-run facility through the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

NOMS took over on July 1 last year and Ofsted inspected from March 6 to 10 this year.

In its report, published on Tuesday, Ofsted reported ‘steady progress’ in some areas since the last inspection, but overall the STC was inadequate.

It emerged in the report staff employment history and past performance information for those previously employed by G4S were not available to the current governor.

‘This means that staff who may have experienced disciplinary or capability measures no longer have this information on their employment records,’ the report said. ‘This is a serious shortfall.’

CCTV coverage was still lacking in areas where young inmates have consistently reported feeling unsafe, including on stairwells and the education block, the report said.

Body-worn cameras now issued to all frontline staff were not always switched on when they should be and footage was not always reviewed, inspectors found.

In 15 incidents reviewed by inspectors from documents, CCTV and body-worn camera footage, force was found to be have been used appropriately to prevent injury in most cases.

Oversight of incidents of violence was deemed poor, with no accurate records made, inspectors added.

Deborah Coles, director of the charity Inquest, said: ‘This report exposes the failure of Government to act on previous concerns about child protection, safeguarding and dangerous restraint.

‘STCs are a flawed model incapable of reform and need closing down. We need to reinvest in child-focused therapeutic local authority children’s homes. It is a shocking indictment of our justice system that it is deemed acceptable to subject children to such ill treatment and failings in care.’