Beds, Herts & Bucks

Probation firm to buy Oakhill secure training site from G4S

Prisoner in corridor Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption G4S currently runs two secure units for young offenders and 13 children's homes

A secure training centre for young offenders run by G4S is likely to be sold to a probation services company, the BBC understands.

G4S has a contract to run the Oakhill centre near Milton Keynes until 2029 so the sale would have to be approved by the Ministry of Justice.

It is understood talks to sell the centre to Working Links are at an advanced stage.

An inspection found the site's overall effectiveness "required improvement".

Inspectors from education assessor Ofsted also found while record numbers of young people were taking GCSEs, the mix of staff experience at the centre had left to "inconsistency and variability in practice across the centre".

Jerry Petherick, managing director for G4S custodial and detention services, said the company was "accountable for the young people" in its care and would "continue to provide every support needed to make improvements at the centre" while the sale was ongoing.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Five men were arrested by Kent Police following the allegations of abuse at a unit in Medway

In February, G4S announced it was to sell its children's services business including the contract to manage Oakhill and another secure unit in Medway, Kent.

A BBC Panorama investigation uncovered claims relating to the treatment of 10 boys at the Medway unit near Rochester.

The director of the facility stepped down at the end of January.

Five men were arrested by Kent Police on suspicion of either child neglect or assault and bailed until April.

G4S also runs residential children's homes through its children's services division, Homes2Inspire, in six English counties: Bedfordshire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Staffordshire.

A spokesman for the company had previously said it would consider selling off the secure training centres individually or as part of a package with the children's homes.

The Oakhill deal could be completed within the next 12 months, it is thought.

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