I recently met with Ed Argar MP, Minister for Justice, to discuss his recent announcement that Medway Secure Training Centre (STC) is be converted into the first Secure School as part of a cross-Government initiative to improve youth custody.
The decision has been taken to close Medway and reopen it as a Secure School in response to the Charlie Taylor Review, which recommended establishing Secure Schools to improve outcomes for children in custody. Medway has been providing much improved care for a very complex and vulnerable group of children and this decision is not a reflection on that work, which was recently recognised in an Ofsted report.
Secure Schools represent an entirely new approach to managing youth custody and are the best solution to address violence in the youth estate, improve outcomes for children leaving custody and reduce the unacceptably high level of reoffending in this sector.
Of course, there will be worries for staff and children currently at Medway STC but following my discussions with the minister I am confident that there will be no immediate change and all will be fully supported during the transition and refurbishment.
Medway STC has had a difficult period over the past few years but it is also a hugely important facility within our community and region in ensuring vulnerable young people are able to rehabilitate and get back on their feet. I am therefore determined to make sure these changes are positive for children and staff and I will be working closely with the STC and the government during this process.