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Fury after vulnerable girl prisoner is pinned down and forcibly stripped by male guards on TWO separate occasions


  • Inspectors visited Wetherby young offenders institution (YOI) in West Yorkshire

The prisons watchdog has said he was ‘deeply shocked’ after a vulnerable teenage girl was forcibly strip-searched by male officers at a child jail.

Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, also blasted ‘inappropriate use of pain-inducing techniques’ at Wetherby young offenders institution (YOI) in West Yorkshire.

The institution was holding 165 boys and girls aged 15 to 18, including some of the country’s most ‘challenging’ young offenders, when inspectors visited at the end of last year.

The report, published today, said officers ‘often had to intervene several times a night to remove ligatures’ from girls held at Wetherby.

Mr Taylor said: ‘We were deeply shocked to find adult male officers restraining and stripping an incredibly vulnerable girl not once but twice.

Wetherby young offenders institution (YOI) in West Yorkshire holds 165 boys and girls aged 15 to 18, including some of the country's most 'challenging' young offenders

Wetherby young offenders institution (YOI) in West Yorkshire holds 165 boys and girls aged 15 to 18, including some of the country’s most ‘challenging’ young offenders

Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, also blasted 'inappropriate use of pain-inducing techniques' in a report

Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, also blasted ‘inappropriate use of pain-inducing techniques’ in a report 

‘While they no doubt acted to prevent serious harm, the presence of multiple men pinning her down and removing her clothes will have caused further trauma and, given how predictable the behaviour of this particular girl was, the YOI has no excuse not to have made sure that female officers were in attendance.’

The chief inspector’s report said: ‘The level of self-harm among girls was extremely high and this resulted in very high levels of use of force and assaults on staff.

‘There was a high number of pain-inducing restraint techniques and strip-searches under restraint.

‘Many of these incidents were not in accordance with national policy and were not properly authorised.’

It said there had been 24 strip-searches of children carried out in the previous year, half of which were under restraint.

‘Pain-inducing techniques had been applied nine times in the last 12 months and on every occasion had been deemed inappropriate by the Independent Review of Restraint Panel,’ the report went on.

It found evidence of ‘poor practice’ including one case where officers carried out ‘the restraint of a child which resulted in an injury that had not been referred to senior leaders’, it said.

Some children reported sleeping in their day clothes to keep warm during winter months.

Wetherby can hold up to 266 young offenders who have been sentenced by a court or who are on remand, including some who are ‘the equivalent of high security prisoners in the adult estate’, the report said.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of criminal justice charity Nacro, said: ‘Today’s report from the HM Inspectorate of Prisons into the Wetherby young offenders institution makes for disturbing reading, and is another example that putting children in custody should be an absolute last resort.

‘A group of men forcibly stripping a distressed young girl, hurting and locking away children in cold cells is not how any child should be treated in a civilised society, whatever they have done in the past.

‘These are children who are often vulnerable, traumatised and in many cases have suffered abuse.

‘They need help to address the reasons why they have turned to crime at such a young age.

‘The government must act immediately to improve the lives of these children and to lay out a comprehensive improvement plan across all of these institutions.’



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