South East Wales

Bad behaviour at Parc Prison's juvenile unit 'unchallenged'

Parc Prison Image copyright Geograph / Kenneth Rees
Image caption The young offender unit can hold up to 64 boys aged under 18

Bad behaviour by inmates at a young offender institution in Bridgend sometimes goes unchallenged, an inspection has found.

Some youths were rewarded with extra packets of crisps at Parc Prison's juvenile unit despite poor behaviour, HM Inspectorate of Prisons has said.

The watchdog also reported a surge in assaults on staff and a deterioration in safety.

Parc director Janet Wallsgrove said training was being reviewed.

Inspectors made an unannounced visit to the youth unit, which is operated by the security firm G4S, last December.

In a report, it said there had been more than 100 violent incidents in the six months leading up to the inspection of the institution, which can hold up to 64 boys aged under 18.

It also found assaults on staff had increased from two to 22 when compared with the six months prior to the previous visit in January 2016.

'Afraid to eat communally'

Some staff "did not challenge poor behaviour confidently", such as inmates refusing to return to their cells, inspectors also said.

"We observed one incident where boys refused to lock up to allow staff to deal with a difficult situation and they were clearly inciting others returning from education not to lock up either," the report said.

"Despite this, they were immediately rewarded with extra bags of crisps served at lunchtime, while vulnerable boys who were afraid to eat communally missed out on this additional snack.

"We found no evidence that the boys responsible had been challenged."

Three in five of those locked up at the facility reported that they felt "victimised" by staff, while nearly a third indicated that they felt unsafe.

Four boys were found to be "self-isolating" for their own protection, the report said.

'Deterioration'

However, the watchdog also found security procedures were "proportionate" and had mitigated the influence of illegal drugs, while work with families was excellent.

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke warned that "the deterioration in safety and general standards on the unit needed to be reversed".

Ms Wallsgrove said work had been under way for some time to review the institution's team, training and structures to look after boys "who are more violent than cohorts we have seen in the past".

"These measures are showing encouraging signs and our most recent data for the first three months of 2017 show that violent incidents are down by 10%."

She added they would use the recommendations in the report to make more improvements over the coming months.

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