New measures introduced to tackle increase in attacks on prison staff at HMYOI Werrington

IMPROVEMENTS are being introduced to tackle an increase in violence against prison staff at a young offenders institution in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
HMYOI Werrington can accommodate up to 118 sentenced or remanded young peeople aged between 15 and 18.
An unannounced visit by inspectors to the jail in February this year found it “less safe” than on a previous visit in 2018.
Attacks by prisoners on staff members had doubled.
On their latest visit the inspectors noted that around 40 per cent of front-line staff had fewer than 12 months experience.
HM chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke, said: “We found potentially motivational behaviour management policies were undermined by poor implementation, and the lack of consistency in their application led to frustration among children and staff.
“Opportunities to reward good behaviour were missed and we saw many examples of low-level poor behaviour not being challenged.
“Leaders and managers needed to be more visible to support these staff, model effective practice, and ensuure behaviour management policies were properly implemented to help reduce the high levels of violence at Werrington.”
There were, however, positives to be drawn from the unannounced visit by inspectors.
The promotion of equality and diversity by the education provider was found to be “particularly good”, while the health care of the children was found to be “very good.”
Helga Swidenbank, HM Prison and Probabtion Service (HMPPS) executive director of the Youth Custody Service, said: “I am pleased inspectors have recognised the large amount of positive work taking place at Werrington.
“While violence is a challenge across the youth estate, the new governor has already started to implement plans to reduce it, review behaviour management and improve the one-to-one support for every boy.
“As part of the new initiative expereinced staff are now providing more support to recently recruited front-line officers, and this well help to drive improvements at Werrington.”
Terry McCarthy, North West representative of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: “The report is disappointing, but not unexpected. Werrington is symptomatic of the rest of the prison service.
“You have young staff learning from staff, and when dealing with children aged 15 to 18, that doesn’t always work.”
HMYOI Werrington started life in 1895 as an industrial school and was subsequently purchased by the Prison Commissioners in 1955.
Following implementation of the Criminal Justice Act 1982 it converted to a Youth Custody Centre in 1985 and in 1988 it became a Young People’s Centre.