FELTHAM Young Offenders’ Institution had a challenging time during the August riots, thanks to an influx of new inmates.
During and immediately after the riots, the institution received in a week the number of new arrivals it would normally expect in a month – 60 young people.
According to a report released this week, HMYOI Feltham had to move significant numbers of existing inmates to other establishments to make way for young people arrested during the riots.
The report, by the Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick, found that the main challenges were the lack of information about new arrivals, which made it difficult to carry out initial assessments to keep them safe, and the huge increase of movement across the institution.
This resulted in a lack of continuity, which impacted on new receptions and the settled population, and the introduction of some young people to gangs and violence in prison.
Mr Hardwick said: “Feltham coped well with the disruption caused by quickly admitting a significant number of young people following the disturbances in English cities in August 2011.
“However, it is important that Feltham and other YOIs work effectively with young people held in custody for the first time to ensure they do not become caught in a gang and criminal culture.”
The report was based on a five-day unannounced inspection carried out in July 2011, with inspectors returning to the prison on September 12 to assess the impact of the increased admissions.
The report also found the institution was continuing to operate fairly well, although progress had halted and even regressed in some areas.
Its last inspection in 2010 covered the whole of the institution, including the section holding young adults aged 18-21, and commended slow but consistent progress.
The latest inspection focused solely on the section holding children and young people aged 15-18 and found some effective work, but also deterioration in provision for young people.
Mr Hardwick said: “This establishment continues to operate reasonably well, working with often volatile young people in a challenging environment.
“This does not, however, negate the fact that the progress and improvement we have previously described has stopped, and in significant areas regressed.
“There is a clear need to refocus the prison’s work on equality with a diverse population, basic standards of cleanliness require improvement, and there is a need to re-energise elements of the resettlement strategy.
“Most importantly, there must be access to good quality activity and education which will engage young people and equip them for the future.”