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 Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice 2:22 pm, 24th July 2019

Two years ago we stood here for an urgent question on the crisis in our prisons after the chief inspector warned that not a single establishment inspected was safe to hold children and young people. Does the Minister accept that the chief inspector issuing an urgent notification for the first time in the youth estate highlights how the Government are overseeing a dangerous collapse in safety for children in custody, and that that shows, unfortunately, how little the Government have done in those two years?

The general prison crisis is bad enough, but we are talking about children—children in dangerously unsafe conditions. The chief inspector warns that in Feltham the

“speed of this decline has been extraordinary”,

violent incidents are up by 45% since January 2019, and self-harm has increased fourteenfold in two years. When was the Minister first aware that the situation was spiralling out of control? What has been done since then? Will he agree to report to this House before seeking to end the temporary ban on children being sent to Feltham?

Later today we will get yet another Justice Secretary—the fifth I will have faced in just three years. I am sorry to say that I am sick of the warm words, sick of the speeches giving the impression that something is being done, and sick of the media stunts that serve as a springboard for leadership bids. Does the Minister agree that the chaotic approach to leadership in the Ministry of Justice deepens the crisis caused by unacceptable prison cuts? Finally, does he agree that whoever takes over as Justice Secretary must go beyond empty rhetoric and finally make the safety of young people in custody an urgent priority?