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Children in Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester to get phones in bedrooms after abuse allegations

By Jade Edwards

The youth jail at the centre of abuse allegations is planning to install phone lines in every bedroom so children can call their families or counselling helplines.

Footage secretly filmed at Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester showed staff appearing to use excessive force to restrain youngsters, children being bullied by staff, officers lying when reporting incidents and staff boasting about hurting inmates.

The BBC Panorama programme led to an investigation and four members of staff have been arrested.

Medway Secure Training Centre.
Medway Secure Training Centre.

Unify Business Solutions is now planning to install phones in all of the centre’s 76 bedrooms so children speak to their families or call the Samaritans or ChildLine.

“We hope the youngsters will fully benefit from being able to contact their family and support lines on a regular basis”

Each child will be allowed 20 minutes of call time a day and if not used, it will be rolled over to the next day for up to a week.

When they are installed, the phones will only be able to be used at certain times and to make sure the system is not abused, all numbers will be checked before they are allocated.

Each youngster will have unlimited pre-authorised internal and external numbers.

Keith Bean, Unify’s sales manager, said: “We’re excited to be able to support and work with G4S helping to make a difference to the lives of the trainees at Medway Secure Training Centre.

“We hope the youngsters will fully benefit from being able to contact their family and support lines on a regular basis.”

Head teacher Gary Holden has been drafted in to oversee improvements at the youth jail after a report from Ofsted and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons revealed significant concerns about the centre.

G4S has since announced it is selling its children’s services business which includes its contracts to manage Medway Secure Training Centre and Oakhill in Milton Keynes.

After the BBC Panorama programme, three men from Medway, aged 25, 34 and 35, were arrested on suspicion of child neglect.

A Medway man, 28, was arrested on suspicion of assault, and a 25-year-old East Sussex man was arrested on suspicion of child neglect. They have been bailed until April.

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