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18 July 2023

PRT comment: HMYOI Cookham Wood

Commenting on the findings of conditions at HMYOI Cookham Wood by HM Inspectorate of Prisons today (18 July) Pia Sinha, chief executive of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This is a shocking report which reveals a failure of leadership at the highest levels of the youth justice system. It is difficult to comprehend how a youth offender institution with five staff to every child could deliver such poor outcomes, particularly on safety and purposeful activity. Prison leaders cannot maintain safe and purposeful regimes by issuing instructions from behind closed doors.

“It is particularly concerning that the government is planning to extend the use of PAVA to the youth estate. When staff are ‘demoralised and hesitant’, the focus should be on helping them to build relationships with the children in their care rather than arming them with additional weapons.”