Children at Cookham Wood prison are being denied education as well as therapy because of being locked in their cells while educators and health professionals wait for them in “empty rooms.”

“Waste Of Resources”

A report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons stated that due to the difficulties of getting teenagers at Cookham Wood prison to attend classes and other group-based activities by leaving their cells was a “waste of significant resources” due to the severe shortages in staff members as well.

Due to poor planning and scheduling, over 40% of planned group education and activities were canceled as professionals ready to begin were left waiting in empty and abandoned classrooms without students to teach or children to be involved with. Further reports stated that while children attending education were well-off, cell-unlocking procedures, as well as other regulations, would consistently hinder access to required services and educational support.

Further Improvements

The report further stated that much more improvement to learning, skills and over-all work was required with the inspector stating that boys were locked in their cells for up to 19.5 hours a day or even longer depending on circumstances.

Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons stated that “What was perhaps most unforgivable was that there were many skilled staff and partners who were keen to work with boys to help them progress but their efforts were frustrated by the failure to unlock boys on time, if at all. We were told by numerous professionals that this was not uncommon.”

Reports of in-prison violence have also increased since 2016’s inspection with children feeling less protected and safe in their own cells due to rising violence as well as reported cases of self-harm. Richard Burgon MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice described the situation as “yet another shocking report into a failing system.”