MPs have called on the government to explain why the contract for a privately-run youth prison was granted a two-year extension despite long-term concerns about its performance. All 33 children were removed from HMP Rainsbrook earlier this month as MTC, the private contractor responsible for Rainsbrook, had ‘failed to deliver’ according to the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland.
In a follow-up report on Rainsbrook, the House of Commons’ Justice Committee welcomed this decision to remove the children from Rainsbrook amid ‘serious ongoing concerns about safety and performance’, and that despite the serious crimes committed ‘in a civilised society [the children at Rainsbrook] deserve much better from those contracted to care for them’. In March the committee had criticised the ‘litany of inaction by MTC’ and ‘poor oversight of its contractual relationship’ by the MoJ had made such a move necessary. At the time, they urged the ministry to retake control of Rainbsrook unless substantial improvements were made by MTC.
The MPs are currently seeking an explanation from the MoJ about why they granted a two-year extension to MTC’s contract to run Rainsbrook, despite ‘considerable concern’ about the ‘company’s capacity to do so’. This followed a series of negative inspection reports by Ofsted, HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Care Quality Commission. Since 2015, all annual inspections required improvements on overall effectiveness, with the leadership being found inadequate on two occasions.
The report by the Committee also highlights the ambiguities surrounding communication from the Ministry of Justice. These includes a response which ‘appears to imply that no Minister was involved in signing off the two-year extension’.
The Government is expected to respond to the follow up report within two weeks. Speaking yesterday in the House of Commons in response to David Lammy, the Shadow Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland insisted that ‘providers have had the message loud and clear’ and that there would be ‘no second chances’.
“Providers have had the message loud and clear from me – there will be no second chances” insists @RobertBuckland after @DavidLammy raises emergency shut-down of #Rainsbrook child prison. When will Govt learn that Justice should always prioritise public good, not private profit? pic.twitter.com/uRUpOMB5ML
— Justice Unions Parliamentary Group (@JusticeUnions) June 29, 2021