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HMYOI Wetherby

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Report on an unannounced inspection of HMYOI Wetherby by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (20 November – 7 December 2023)

What we found

Some of the most vulnerable children in the country were being stripped of their clothing under restraint with far too little oversight and accountability and inappropriate use of pain-inducing techniques.

While all institutions holding children are faced with high levels of need, Wetherby held a particularly complex group including children with a level of risk equivalent to Category A adult men and those requiring support or interventions from multiple agencies. Nearly half of the children had previously been in local authority care, and the YOI held some extremely vulnerable girls giving the YOI the highest rate of self-harm of any prison in the country with officers often having to intervene multiple times at night to stop girls ligaturing. Despite their known risk in this area, inspectors were shocked to find all-male teams of officers forcibly restraining a girl to remove her clothing to prevent her self-harming not once but twice.

We were deeply shocked to find adult male officers restraining and stripping an incredibly vulnerable girl not once but twice. While they no doubt acted to prevent serious harm, the presence of multiple men pinning her down and removing her clothes will have caused further trauma and, given how predictable the behaviour of this particular girl was, the YOI has no excuse not to have made sure that female officers were in attendance.

Charlie Taylor, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons

Action plan