G4S apologises after BBC investigation into Medway unit


Security firm G4S has apologised for the behaviour of staff at a young offender unit after an undercover BBC investigation found evidence of mistreatment of children being held there.

A senior director said he was "appalled" after the airing of a Panorama programme tonight which secretly filmed at Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester.

Seven members of staff at the unit have already been suspended amid allegations of abuse and mistreatment of youngsters.

Paul Cook, managing director of G4S children's services, said: "We are appalled by the behaviour of certain members of staff at Medway Secure Training Centre shown in the programme and I would like to apologise personally to any young people involved in these incidents.

"The wellbeing, safety and care of the young people at Medway is our primary objective and we are shocked that any member of staff would behave in this way.

"There is no place for the conduct shown in the programme within any of our Secure Training Centres and it will not be tolerated."

Police in Kent are also understood to have been alerted to the claims of "unnecessary use of force and the use of improper language" at the centre.

The unit, managed by G4S in co-operation with the Youth Justice Board since it opened in 1998, is a 76-bed facility for young offenders aged from 12 to 18.

Mr Cook said the firm was planning its own investigation once Kent Police had completed its probe.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove said he is to meet G4S officials this week, telling MPs the security group had previously "let the Ministry of Justice and those in our care down", although he stressed it runs other institutions which "do a good job".

He told the Commons HM Inspectorate of Prisons and Ofsted visited the centre on Monday and met with representatives of G4S, Medway Council and the Youth Justice Board.

Mr Gove said: "Inspectors will speak directly with young people detained at Medway to satisfy themselves that everything is being done to ensure people are safe.

"I will also be meeting G4S this week to discuss the allegations and to review their response.

"I'm under no illusions that our system of youth justice needs reform. Although youth offending is down, recidivism rates are high and the care and supervision of young offenders in custody is not good enough."

Labour urged Mr Gove to take immediate action to put all G4S-run prisons, secure training centres and detention centres into special measures to assess the "safety and competence" at each site.