G4S staff sacked over allegations of abuse of young offenders

 The cases of two teens allegedly bullied at privately run prison

Kent Police are not investigating Medway YOI after BBC Panorama. Image: BBC

Kent Police are investigating Medway YOI after BBC Panorama. Image: BBC


G4S has apologised for the behaviour of staff at the Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester following a BBC Panorama undercover investigation into allegations of bullying and falsifying records.


Update: Kent Police arrest three men after BBC Panorama investigation into abuse at young offenders centre 

G4S sack staff following allegations of mistreatment

Four members of staff at Kent’s young offenders institute, the Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester, have been sacked after being accused of “controlling by menace, even brutality” and “revelling in aggression”.



The allegations relate to ten boys aged 14 to 17, and involve unnecessary force, foul language and a cover-up.

During the programme viewers watched as two inmates – Billy and Lee – were forcefully restrained, choked and bullied by G4S staff who were supposed to be acting as “role models.”

The case of 14-year-old inmate called Billy

Billy who had just arrived at Medway from a secure children’s home was described on Panorama as a “little boy who is  lonely and doesn’t know what to do”, despite his front.

During the programme Billy is seen to block Gareth, a G4S employee, from entering a classroom. Once inside the classroom Gareth shouts “first response”, prompting the rest of the staff to restrain Billy.

The most senior officer present, Duty Operations Manager Chris, proceeds to forcefully restrain Billy, pressing his fingers on Billy’s throat, despite being repeatedly told to always “protect air ways”.

Dr Andrew McDonnell, expert in behavioural issues including restraint, watched the footage of Billy being restrained:

“He’s telling you he can’t breathe, so let go of him, that’s an example of excessive force. If I was a young person in that situation and it happened to me, it would make me pretty angry. These people are [supposed to be] role models. So what they’re doing almost makes it legitimate for those young people to be violent and aggressive.”



Billy’s mother breaks down when she is shown footage of her son being restrained:

“[G4S] are there to do a job, to help that child rehabilitate and I can’t see how they’re going to do that. You think of abuse in these situations and you think it’ll be one member of staff digging a child when nobody’s around. But looking at this, it’s so openly obvious that it’s just a day-to-day management strategy for them. It’s despicable.”


The case of 16-year-old orphan Lee

Lee, whose parents died before he was 10-years-old, has a conviction for robbery and came to Medway straight from care. He tells the Panorama reporter: “Bruv, I don’t even want to be part of this world. Part of this unit.”

On the anniversary of his mother’s death, an incident unfolds between Lee and G4S Team Leader Anthony, who Lee “was rude to” earlier:


Lee has a history of self-harm, explained Anthony: “He’s the sort of **** that would do something to himself.”

And as predicted, Lee self-harms in his cell, only to be restrained after being treated:


The Panorama reporter says Lee was “placed in a reverse choke and pulled down hard onto the bed”.

After the incident, G4S Team Leader Anthony describes what he did to Lee move-by-move:

“Relocating, choking, that’s just him on the bed. ****ing elbowed him in the face. I had one arm pinned and one arm on his ****ing neck. So when I got him on the floor, that’s when I ****ing started giving him digs and that. Hand on his head and I’m properly trying to break his skull.”


The Panorama reporter explains that with no CCTV in the bedrooms, staff are left to “concoct a story to justify their actions”, telling trainees what to say. The reporter is told to say Anthony (the G4S Team Leader) was assaulted, when the reporter refuses to agree with their story, another member of staff says “he weren’t even there anyway”, discrediting the reporter’s story.

The Howard League again sums it up:


Who failed these boys?

The Howard League has thrown open the question of blame – referring to a meeting of the Youth Justice Board (YJB) that took place at the beginning of August 2015:


The image shows minutes from the meeting that say:

“Christine Davies questioned the difference the YJB’s monitoring makes to the quality of services received by young people in custody, and noted that the YJB appeared to be caught out by the recent inspection at Rainsbrook STC. Peter explained that not all of the YJB’s monitoring is made public and, in the case of Rainsbrook STC, the Monitors had been aware of and dealt with the incidents identified in the Ofsted report, and had pointed these out to Inspectors.”

In response, Chief of the Youth Justice Board Lin Hinnigan issued a statement, that there are more organisations accountable for the abuse at Medway than just G4S:

“Immediate steps have been taken to safeguard those who are at Medway STC. We have increased our own monitoring activity and the presence of our independent advocacy service, delivered by Barnardos. All of the staff identified in the allegations have been suspended by G4S, which runs the STC.”


What happens now?

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform has written to the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, David Green:

A team from Ofsted have spoken to inmates at a Kent young offenders centre following allegations staff assaulted young people there. The BBC reports that officials visited the Medway Secure Training Centre on Monday.


Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter... Image.

In an urgent question put to the House of Commons on the day of Panorama, Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter said:

“Deborah Coles, director of the charity INQUEST, has said that in any other setting the treatment “would be child abuse” and that “this points to a lack of accountability and culture of impunity.”


“It is clear that these allegations have come to light only following the investigative journalism the Secretary of State mentioned, rather than following any monitoring or oversight from the Youth Justice Board or Ministry of Justice.”

Justice Secretary Michael Gove is expected to be meeting with G4S this week to discuss the allegations.He said the alleged assaults would be treated with the “utmost seriousness” but it would be “quite wrong” to make a “blanket allegation” against G4S, pointing out that other institutions which it operated did a “good job”.


One Comment on “G4S staff sacked over allegations of abuse of young offenders”

  1. matti says:

    The same G4s is responsible fir the deaths of a number of deportees but they went scot free.No one was ever charged with the poor immigrants deaths .one was even heard by fellow passengers screaming that he couldn’t. breathe but those responsible for his death went free.


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