Government 'to take control of' assault-scandal young offenders unit
A young offenders unit in Kent whose staff faced accusations of assaulting children is to be taken over by the Ministry of Justice, it has been reported.
According to the BBC, the Government will take control of the Medway Secure Training Centre, which was contracted out to G4S.
If confirmed, it would be the first time ministers have ever run such a centre.
The BBC also said a government report into the centre would make “uncomfortable” reading for G4S.
Four men were arrested on suspicion of neglect after the BBC's Panorama programme revealed the assault claims earlier this year, with another held on suspicion of assault. All the men have since been released on bail.
In a statement, the Ministry of Justice told PoliticsHome: “Our priority will always be the safety and welfare of young people in custody – that is why the Justice Secretary set up an Independent Improvement Board to examine the running of Medway STC.
“This sits alongside a wider review of youth justice. We are considering a range of options and will announce the next steps in due course.”
Shadow Justice Minister Jo Stevens told PoliticsHome: "The safety of children in custody should be of paramount importance.
"That's why when this incident happened Labour called for all G4S prisons to be put into special measures.
"This action from the Government is welcome, but why on earth has it taken so long?"
In January, Justice Secretary Michael Gove suggested the contract could be withdrawn from G4S if the firm is considered to have failed in its delivery.
“When any organisation fails in the delivery of public services… we will take steps to remove that contract,” he told the Commons during Justice Questions.
“And of course, if G4S have failed in this regard then we will take all steps necessary to keep children safe.”