Feltham a Young Offenders Institution

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:22 pm on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Seema Malhotra Seema Malhotra Labour/Co-operative, Feltham and Heston 2:22 pm, 24th July 2019

I thank the Minister for his response and for notifying me of the letter yesterday.

Feltham young offenders institution was a prison left without a governor for five months last year, and the findings of the recently announced inspection have been distressing for the staff and all those involved with Feltham. There was talk of a dramatic decline in safety, which is a matter of great concern for us all. I extend my thanks to the POA trade union and the staff and management, who have been working at that prison in very difficult circumstances.

The problems at Feltham are long standing and the current situation should have been avoidable. The Government have much to answer for regarding why the decline has been so fast, with a steep rise in violence against staff, allegations of assault and levels of self-harm. The Government desperately need to get to grip with the causes of the rapid decline and to support the staff and inmates in turning the situation around. Given that we are talking about children—140 boys aged 15 to 17 are being held at Feltham A in the care of the state—will the Minister update us on why Feltham was left without a governor for five months last year, what the impact has been, and what assessment he has made of the root causes of the steep decline in performance?

The Minister says he has supplied resources, but why does he believe they have not been sufficient? What additional skilled resources does he intend to provide to support the staff and management to address the culture and behaviour management issues that are so significant? What support is there for those young people living in great distress at Feltham young offenders institution? How fit for purpose does he consider Feltham to be, how quickly does he plan to produce his action plan, and how will he keep Parliament and me informed, particularly over the recess?