Lawyers at Leigh Day have confirmed that they are dealing with a number of enquiries from victims alleging abuse following revelations in a BBC Panorama programme

G4S, the private security group, has again had to suspend several of its members of staff following serious allegations of abuse and mistreatment, in this case at Medway Secure Training Centre near Rochester.

The reports of institutional brutality, which include allegations that staff ‘punched and slapped’ teenagers, ‘boasted’ about using inappropriate restraint techniques and, in two extremely concerning cases, squeezed a teenager’s windpipe so hard that he struggled to breathe and boasted of stabbing another child in the leg with a fork, is not the first time that the conduct of G4S staff in this context has been called into question.

In May 2015, at least six members of G4S staff were dismissed from Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in Rugby, after a damning Ofsted report revealed that some members of staff had been under the influence of drugs whilst on duty, had ‘colluded’ with detainees, and had subjected young people to degrading and racist treatment.

Despite the Ofsted report into Rainsbrook being published in May 2015, G4S did not lose its contract to run the centre until September 2015, and was then granted a 5 month extension until May 2016 to ‘support the transition to new management’.

Alison Millar, head of abuse claims at Leigh Day said that whilst she welcomed the news that an independent investigation has now been launched by Kent Police and Medway Safeguarding Children Board into the current allegations concerning the Medway Secure Training Centre, and further that the Youth Justice Board has [albeit temporarily] suspended sending any further children there, the current allegations nonetheless raise questions yet again about G4S’s suitability for running such centres and, more generally, the permissibility and boundaries of physical restraint.

Alison said:

“Young people can be vulnerable in various ways and children in custody and children with special educational needs, may be more liable to being inappropriately restrained or mistreated. Physical interventions, if not appropriately controlled and monitored, can often lead to an escalation, rather than de-escalation, of behaviour; can create distrust and damage personal and professional relationships; can humiliate, degrade, and undermine the dignity of both the staff and individuals involved; and, in the most severe cases, can result in physical and/or psychiatric harm.

"It is clear that the alleged conduct of staff at Medway, which would appear to include allegations of intentional assault, oversteps the mark of what is permissible and we are treating the enquiries we have received from alleged victims with the utmost seriousness.”