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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse of Children in Custodial Institutions: 2009-2017 Investigation Report

E.15: Leadership and governance

234. Prior to our hearings we were aware that the Youth Custody Improvement Board had concluded that roles and responsibilities within the youth secure estate need to be “crystal clear”.[1] Sara Robinson explained that the Youth Custody Service was designed with this in mind:

  • There is a single point of responsibility for the day‐to‐day running of the youth estate in the director of youth custody, with direct accountability through the line management chain for those sites.
  • In the public sector there is a direct line of responsibility from governors, to a group director, to her. In private establishments the line of accountability is different; the establishment’s director (the equivalent of a governor) is accountable to the board of its private company; HMPPS manages the contract, and holds the board accountable.
  • HMPPS can dismiss or move governors who are not performing effectively. In private companies it can impose fines and service credits, and in extreme cases (such as G4S’s Medway STC and HMP Birmingham) can take over the contract.

Overall this structure is intended to simplify performance within the estate, and establish new routes of scrutiny for the youth estate.[2]

235. We were also aware that the Taylor Review[3] had recommended that the focus of the child justice system should be on the child first and the offender second.[4] Several witnesses picked up this theme. Professor Hardwick said the bedrock should be a child‐ centred culture with a focus on safety and protecting children from abuse, and that this is one of the most important factors in reducing risk.[5][6] Angus Mulready‐Jones considered that the role of residential staff should be primarily one of care.[7][8] Matthew Brazier said the key difference between SCHs and STCs is that the former tend to be much more child‐focussed.[9]

236. In terms of reform:

  • Professor Hardwick and Pam Hibbert said that the Ministry of Justice should not be responsible for custodial institutions holding children, but another department such as the Department for Education should take over. The aim was said to be to focus the ethos of youth custody on care and welfare, rather than punishment and control.[10][11][12]
  • Dr Janes thought it was unlikely that there is sufficient leadership and governance to guard against the risk of child sexual abuse in many custodial institutions. In her view, the creation of a child custodial safeguarding authority would at least ensure a recognition within current structures of the need to have special regard to the risk of abuse in custody, and would assist in reducing that risk.[13][14]
  • Although he felt there are risks in creating one authority, Angus Mulready‐Jones agreed the quality of leadership is not good enough to address the many and complex issues at stake.[15]
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