Former YJB chief to decide whether to probe Medway abuse allegations

By Neil Puffett

| 25 January 2016

The former chief executive of the Youth Justice Board will have the final say on whether a serious case review (SCR) should be conducted into allegations of abuse of children held in custody at Medway Secure Training Centre (STC) in Kent.

Former YJB chief John Drew will decide whether an SCR into allegations of abuse at Medway STC will take place. Picture: Emilie Sandy

John Drew, who retired as YJB chief executive in 2013 following four years at the helm of the government quango, has responsibility for the decision in his capacity as independent chair of Medway Council's local safeguarding children board.

Police were alerted to the claims of “unnecessary use of force and the use of improper language” earlier this month as a result of a BBC Panorama investigation into the STC.

Allegations include staff punching a young person in the ribs, another being slapped several times on the head, and staff pressing heavily on the necks of young people.

According to current statutory guidance, as set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children, an SCR should take place if abuse or neglect is known, or suspected, to have been involved and a child has died or a child has been seriously harmed, and there is cause for concern about how organisations or professionals worked together to safeguard the child.

If an SCR is initiated, it would look at lessons that can help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future and would likely examine the YJB's role monitoring the establishment.

Drew told CYP Now that a decision on whether to conduct an SCR should be taken by 30 January.

"If the explicit criteria for holding an SCR are not met, the safeguarding board may still decide to commission a SCR or choose to commission an alternative form of case review," he added.

"Any review will thoroughly, independently and openly investigate the issues."

The YJB has previously said it will investigate safety standards in three secure training centres that hold young people.

In addition to commissioning an independent review of young people's perceptions of safety at Medway STC, it said it will also review of safeguarding arrangements at Oakhill and Rainsbrook STCs, which are also currently run by private firm G4S.

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