Watchdog Finds Male Guards Add to Trauma of Young Girls In Offender Institute

A Watchdog investigation has revealed concerning reports of male guards potentially adding more trauma to “Incredibly vulnerable” young girls in the form of strip searches at Wetherby Young Offender Institute.

Allegations of Mistreatment in Young Offenders’ Institution

A young girl held in Wetherby Young Offenders’ Institution was reportedly subjected to “deeply” shocking strip checks by male officers, according to findings by the Chief Inspector of Prisons.

Chief Inspector Taylor expressed he was “deeply shocked” at the findings, labelling the prisoner as “incredibly vulnerable” and known to have mental issues that could see her harming herself.

Taylor revealed, “We were deeply shocked to find adult male officers restraining and stripping an incredibly vulnerable girl not once but twice.”

Disturbing Incidents at Wetherby YOI

Wetherby YOI is known for holding some of the most difficultly “challenged” children in the country along with its prisoners being the most vulnerable to self-harm in any prison, including adults.

Nearly half of the children at Wetherby have been in council care, showing flaws in the childcare system in the UK that do not do enough to protect the kids from a life of struggle after their time in foster care.

The watchdog’s report revealed a staggering 892 incidents where young, female inmates have tried to self-harm or take their own life. Astonishingly, over 400 of these cases were carried out by the same three inmates.

Taylor Acknowledges Good Intentions

Taylor admitted that the officers were probably protecting the girl from harming herself, but critiqued the method they used as it could do more damage than good.

Taylor admitted, “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.”

Officers at Wetherby YOI frequently intervene at night to prevent girls from harming themselves, showing the urgent need for attention to their mental health, however, there must be females present if they perform strip searches.

Lack of Female Officers During Strip-Searches

Chief Inspector Taylor criticized the absence of female officers during the forcible stripping of the vulnerable girl, saying there was “no excuse” not to have them present and the findings were  “not acceptable.”

Taylor argued that the staff at Wetherby YOI have been overloaded due to a high number of inmates that they have not been trained to deal with and “do not possess the expertise to care for.”

Due to most of the girls in the YOI needing “specialist provision,” according to Taylor, many charities have now urged every female inmate to be moved out.

CEO Speaks of Traumatizing Experience

CEO of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Andrea Coomber, spoke of the horror that the girls must have experienced after attempting self-harm, only to be forcibly stripped by a group of men.

Coomber admitted it was “virtually impossible to imagine” the trauma that the girls must have gone through after becoming “so distressed to the point of wanting to harm herself” to then be “forcibly stripped by a group of men, not once but twice.”

The charity that Coomber runs is fighting for the girls to be removed from the prison, “Prison is no place for a child,” she said, “Ministers must act swiftly to move the girls out of Wetherby and into more suitable accommodation.”

Positive Staff-Child Relationships

Despite the troubling findings, the report acknowledged that “most relationships between staff and children were relatively positive compared with other YOIs” while praising the staff at Wetherby. 

Taylor revealed two incidents that he deemed unacceptable, “As a result, we came across two incidents where a girl was using her clothes to make ligatures and had had her clothing removed by male officers,” he revealed.

Another charity that fights for the rights of inmates, Nacro, argued that “A group of men forcibly stripping a distressed young girl” is “not how any child should be treated in a civilized society.”

After multiple charities have spoken out against the behaviors of the male guards, many are expecting a reform for young offender institutes in the UK, making them a better place for reduction.

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The post Watchdog Finds Male Guards Add to Trauma of Young Girls In Offender Institute first appeared on Edge Media.

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