Children still in detention centre where they were locked up 23 hours a day

Children remain at a detention centre where they were locked up for 23 hours a day, a justice minister has admitted, despite a pledge to remove them a month ago.

Alex Chalk, the prisons and probation minister, told the justice select committee that some children are still in Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre.

Last month, Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, announced that all 33 children housed in the facility would be removed after serious concerns over their safety.

One boy was only allowed out of his room for a total of four hours over a fortnight, while other children at the centre, run by MTC, a private US contractor, received so little encouragement to get up in the mornings that they spent much of the day in their pyjamas.

Mr Buckland said at the time: "Six months ago, I demanded that MTC take immediate action to fix the very serious failings at Rainsbrook. It has failed to deliver and I have been left with no choice but to ask that all children are moved elsewhere as soon as possible."

Mr Chalk also revealed that the children would be moved to other parts of the prison estate, with 15 of the children being sent to Young Offender Institutions (YOIs).

However, Sir Bob Neill, the select committee chairman, noted that YOIs may not be suitable for the young children leaving Rainsbrook, as they often contain older children who have committed more serious offences.

"Given that they were placed in STCs [skilled training centres], often because they’re deemed to be too vulnerable to be placed in the YOI setting," he said. "Surely that’s the wrong place to be putting them in, isn’t it? You are putting them into a setting in which by definition there’s a concern about placing them."

It was also revealed that some children would be placed in another facility that had also demonstrated failings similar to Rainsbrook, which had been mothballed while the Ministry of Justice considered its future.

Oakhill, the destination for an undisclosed number of children, was subject to police investigations into 27 members of staff in relation to allegations of abuse or neglect of young people in the past three years.

Sir Bob said: "The issue here is that the conditions at Oakhill have been subject to concern as well, and it got to such a stage that there was a temporary pause in placements.”

A Prison Service spokesman said: "Children from Rainsbrook have been transferred to appropriate secure settings based upon their individual needs, where they can get the support they need to turn their lives around."

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