HMYOI Feltham A – commendable progress must be sustained with larger population

Read the report: HMYOI Feltham A

HMYOI Feltham A – an establishment for 15-18-year-old boys in West London which has a turbulent history – showed improvement across many aspects when HM Inspectorate of Prisons visited in February 2021.

At the time of the last full inspection of Feltham A in July 2019, outcomes for children had declined so dramatically that the then Chief Inspector of Prisons invoked the rarely used Urgent Notification (UN) process for the first time in an establishment holding children.

Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said that in February 2021 inspectors found restrictions to deal with COVID-19 had been implemented appropriately. Feltham A held 63 children, far fewer than at the time of the UN.

Mr Taylor added:

“Since our last inspection, progress had been made and, remarkably in the middle of a pandemic, outcomes in some areas had improved. Children were split into groups of four in which they accessed education and other activities. We found that being in small groups had improved the quality of relationships between children and staff, with more children than at the previous inspection reporting feeling cared for or being encouraged to attend education.”

Self-harm had reduced dramatically with only five incidents recorded in the previous six months, compared to 242 in the same period before the previous inspection.

The number of violent incidents had also fallen, although one in five children felt unsafe at the time of our visit and there was a concerning rise in multi-perpetrator assaults as friction between different groups increased. The report noted an increase in group assaults on single children and managers attributed the continued high level of staff force to the increase in group assaults.

However, Feltham A’s enhanced support unit had been relaunched and there was a positive ethos enabling children to spend more time out of cell, including for education and interventions, than they could have on other units. Inspectors found health services to be generally good with very few waiting lists for clinics.

Time out of cell for boys had improved. On average children received about 4.5 hours a day during the week and 3.5 hours during the weekend. This included face-to-face education, which had been consistently delivered since June 2020. Attendance at education had improved dramatically but punctuality remained a problem.

Inspectors identified some areas where progress was not as good. Support for children to maintain contact with family and friends needed improvement to make sure video and in-person visits were accessed by all children who wanted them. Oversight of equality and diversity was also under-developed, and many children did not feel involved in their sentence or remand plan.

Overall, Mr Taylor said:

“While the improvement made at Feltham A is commendable, some of this reflects how bad things had been at the time of the Urgent Notification. Headway has been made with a far smaller population than usual and the challenge for local and national leaders is to consolidate and build on this progress as the population increases.”

– End –

Notes to editors

  1. Read the report: HMYOI Feltham A. This report was published on 23 March 2021.
  2. HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
  3. Read about the development of scrutiny visits (SVs) in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
  4. On page 4 of the report you can read facts and history about HMYOI Feltham. Feltham A and Feltham B – for 18-21-year-olds – are managed on the same site. This scrutiny visit related only to Feltham A. In 2019 we invoked an Urgent Notification following our inspection of HMYOI Feltham A.
  5. On pages 5-7 you can read key concerns and recommendations and five examples of notable positive practice identified in this scrutiny visit.
  6. This scrutiny visit took place 9 and 17 February 2021.
  7. Please contact john.steele@justice.gov.uk – 07880 787452 – if you would like more information.

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