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House of Lords Hansard
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Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre
15 December 2016
Volume 777

Question

Asked by

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to seek an alternative contractor to take over the management of Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, in the light of the recent inspection finding that the effectiveness of leaders and managers is inadequate.

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My Lords, the recent Ofsted-led inspection recognised the challenges that the contractor, MTCnovo, has faced since taking over at Rainsbrook earlier this year. We are working with MTCnovo to put a plan in place to make improvements. This includes the imminent appointment of a new director. We are not seeking an alternative contractor for Rainsbrook.

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My Lords, in October 2015 I tabled a Written Question about the proposal then to replace the abysmally failing G4S in the running of this centre with a US contractor with a controversial record and no experience of running residential establishments for vulnerable children. The then Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, gave a somewhat bland reply. Ofsted has now produced a report covering eight aspects of the centre’s working, one of which was found to be good, five required improvement and two, including the effectiveness of leaders and managers, inadequate. Among the disturbing revelations, the report states that: reported levels of violence remain high, the use of force and restraint continues to be high; there are shortages of staff and an urgent need for the staffing situation to improve. How long are the Government willing to wait before taking action to ensure that this centre is managed effectively and safely?

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The Government are taking action to ensure that this centre and other centres are managed effectively and safely. In quoting from the report, it might be appropriate to look at some of the more positive observations made by Ofsted with regard to MTCnovo. As the report points out, and as the noble Lord is aware, the company took over this establishment from G4S in May of this year, but as Ofsted observed, the,

“transfer arrangements were poor and problematic … the inherited staffing arrangements led to too few staff transferring to the new provider”.

However, the new provider has,

“responded with speed and purpose to recruit more staff as a priority … Many staff and managers are demonstrating commitment and fortitude during this period of complex change”.

On the matter of safety, Ofsted observed that,

“the vast majority of young people report that they feel safe. In the survey completed for the inspection … 93% reported that they felt safe”,

in the institution.

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My Lords, it has been stated that Rainsbrook had a new provider as recently as May this year. However, the transfer appears to have been bedevilled by poor arrangements for continuity of staffing and low staff levels, as was identified in the recent inspection. As has been said, high levels of violence and indeed bad behaviour are going unchecked because there are too few staff. Can the noble and learned Lord tell us what lessons the Government have learned from this inspection report about future arrangements for changes of provider?

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It is apparent that perhaps we have to apply more care to the transfer arrangements for institutions of this kind. Indeed, it has been proposed that the original transfer plan for Rainsbrook, which was to complete in November 2016, will probably extend to March 2017 in order to address these issues.

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My Lords, has the House noticed that the Questions put to the Government Front Bench today have been answered by one Member from Wales and two from Scotland, while from the Opposition Front Bench we have had one Scot, and from the Back Benches a number of Scots, notwithstanding the excellent contribution by the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth? Does the Minister agree that this shows the value to this House of a whole United Kingdom and that we should redouble our efforts to fight the separatists who would split us asunder?

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I concur with the noble Lord’s observations and would observe that this Government are committed to ethnic diversity.

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My Lords, the last two Questions have been looking at incarceration. The Minister may be aware that at this time 77 years ago the “Graf Spee” put itself voluntarily into incarceration in Montevideo because it had been outfaced by three British cruisers—three of the 420 ships we had in the Royal Navy at that time. No doubt the noble and learned Lord will wish to congratulate the small handful of survivors of that very famous victory.

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Absolutely.