Construction work has begun on the first ‘secure school’ in the UK, which is located in Kent.
The project involved the building of the facility on the site of the now-closed Medway Secure Training Centre in Rochester. The centre, which will be run by the Oasis Trust, will be completed in 2023 and is set to house 49 young offenders in secure accommodation. Within its walls, they will receive extensive education in a bid to turn their lives around and prevent reoffending.
Builders merchants in Kent may be heavily involved in providing materials for the facility, which will be what justice secretary Dominic Raab called “effectively a school with prison walls around it”, aimed at giving “the stubborn hard core of young offenders” the “tailored curriculum and mental health support they need to turn away from crime and get into training and work.”
The government’s reasoning behind the project is that more needs to be done with repeat young offenders, with youth reoffending rates roughly twice as high as those for adult convicts. A key feature of it will be help to get youngsters into jobs and training at the end of their time there, while another is having the centre run by Oasis Restore instead of the Prison Service.
Oasis founder the Rev Steve Chalke said the project involves a “revolution” in dealing with young offenders, with “an emphasis on therapeutic care, education and positive settlement into life beyond our gates”.
While the new facility is not actually a prison, several real jails are now being built across the country, or soon will be.
Examples of this include expanding existing prisons in Guys Marsh in Dorset, Rye Hill in Warwickshire and Stocken in Rutland, as well as building new jails in Birmingham and Liverpool.
Overall, the government aims to add 16 new prisons and 4,000 jail places.