Investigating the Shocking Treatment of Vulnerable Girls in Young Offenders’ Institutions

Investigating the Shocking Treatment of Vulnerable Girls in Young Offenders’ Institutions

An alarming report has revealed the horrifying treatment of an “incredibly vulnerable” girl in a young offenders’ institution. The girl was subjected to physical restraint and forcible stripping by multiple male prison guards at YOI Wetherby in West Yorkshire. These actions have raised serious concerns about the safeguarding and protection of young girls in the criminal justice system.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor, expressed his deep shock at the findings of the report. Inspections conducted in November and December last year uncovered the distressing incidents of the girl being pinned down and forcibly stripped on two separate occasions. This treatment of a vulnerable child is unacceptable and highlights significant failings in the management and care provided at the institution.

Inspectors also noted that officers at YOI Wetherby frequently have to intervene to prevent girls from harming themselves, with the institution having the highest rate of self-harm of any prison in the country. The three girls held at the facility accounted for more than half of the self-harm incidents, leading to the use of force and assaults on staff. These alarming statistics indicate a failure to adequately address the mental health needs of the young people in detention.

The report highlighted the lack of female staff present during the incidents, despite the predictable nature of the girl’s behaviour. The absence of female officers during the strip-searches and restraints is a clear violation of safeguarding protocols and demonstrates a failure to ensure the safety and dignity of the girls in custody. The use of restraint techniques that cause pain further exacerbates the trauma experienced by these vulnerable children.

The Ministry of Justice has defended the use of restraint in “rare circumstances” to prevent serious harm. However, the lack of proper documentation and oversight regarding the use of force and strip-searches raises serious concerns about the accountability of those responsible for the welfare of children in detention. There must be a thorough investigation into the practices at YOI Wetherby and a commitment to ensuring the protection and well-being of all young people in custody.

The shocking treatment of the vulnerable girl at YOI Wetherby is a stark reminder of the failures within the criminal justice system to protect and care for young people in detention. The incidents of forcible stripping and restraint not only violate the rights of the individuals involved but also reflect a systemic issue of neglect and abuse. It is imperative that immediate action is taken to address the shortcomings identified in the report and to prevent further harm to vulnerable children in young offenders’ institutions.


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