Inspectors praise results of incentive scheme at young offender institution

Inspectors have praised a young offender institution where boys are rewarded for good behaviour with sweets or access to computer games.

The prisons watchdog commended HMYOI Werrington for creating a culture of “incentive rather than punishment”.

It highlighted the policy on “incentives and earned privileges” in place at the facility, which is located near Stoke-on-Trent and holds around 100 boys aged between 15 and 18.

The report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons said: “The scheme offered differentials in access to private cash, computer games and time out of their cell, which acted as good incentives and were appreciated by boys.

“The scheme was more focused on incentives than we often see. The merit scheme had developed since the previous inspection and continued to offer boys an immediate reward for good behaviour which could be exchanged for confectionery at the merit shop.”

Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said the inspection established that the “overriding culture at Werrington was one of incentive rather than punishment”.

He praised staff for delivering the approach, adding: “This was in stark contrast to what we see all too often at other establishments, where a negative cycle of punishment and restriction is pursued as the preferred means of behaviour management.”

The Government, which last week published detailed plans for new secure schools where young offenders will be held in a “therapeutic environment”, welcomed the findings.

Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee said: “The inspectors praised incentives for good behaviour, work experience and sport.

“These things are clearly having a big impact and I would like to see them replicated with the same results across the youth estate.”

Although it was a “good inspection”, Mr Clarke raised concerns about levels of violence at the YOI, which had risen since the last assessment and were “too high”.

There had been a significant increase from some 142 incidents in the six months prior to the last inspection to 206 incidents in the period leading up to this one, the chief inspector said.

Michael Spurr, chief executive of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service, said: “I’m pleased that Inspectors have highlighted the positive work done at Werrington with some very challenging young people.

“Good progress has been made in tackling violence and this will continue to be a priority for the establishment going forward.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) HMI Prisons.