Inspectors slam prison violence at Werrington young offenders' institute
VIOLENT prisoners are regularly clashing behind the walls of a young offenders' institute, an inspection has found.
Inspectors made an unnanounced visit to HMYOI Werrington, which was the scene of a roof-top riot among inmates last year.
Now prison reform campaigners have criticised the jail following a report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons, which found that fights were common and prisoners' poor behaviour was often not challenged.
The report also found inmates – who are all under 18 – had no confidence to report bullying and prison conditions were poor.
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Andrew Neilson, from the Howard League for Penal Reform charity, 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 facilities are so shabby that boys have been unable to shower or change their underwear daily. The public deserves better than to have children kept in warehouse-like conditions."
Last August's inspection did find conditions were improving – but found a number of urgent 'weaknesses.'
Strengths included good care for the most vulnerable boys, force was used 'more proportionately' than previously found, and prisoners received good support with basic literacy and numeracy. The prison was also found to operate good resettlement and restorative justice schemes.
However, staff and prisoners had low expectations of each other, education and training was not up to scratch and many boys did not get enough exercise, the report ruled. Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: "Overall, Werrington had become unbalanced. In many ways it provided an appropriate caring environment that recognised the vulnerabilities of the children it held. But that was not enough. Staff were the adults in charge and their expectations about the behaviour of young people needed to be demonstrably clear and consistent."
Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service, said: "The young people whom Werrington cares for can be very challenging and I am pleased that the chief inspector acknowledges that the prison provides a fundamentally safe and caring environment.
"The governor is working with his staff to deliver a clearer and more consistent approach."