The Chief Inspector of Prisons has heaped praise on the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) in Colchester in his report published today, 18 June 2012.
Nick Hardwick said in his evaluation of an announced inspection of the Armed Services' central custodial facility that the MCTC is an impressive establishment and staff should be congratulated.
When Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons first evaluated the MCTC in 2004, although the report painted a generally positive picture, there were some concerns. Each successive inspection found that the Centre had improved and this inspection was no exception.
It was found that a combination of very good relationships, plenty of activity and constructive preparation for the future, whether in the Services or as a civilian, made the Centre a very safe and positive place and some aspects now provided a model that other custodial institutions would do well to copy.
Most detainees were being held for offences against Service discipline that would not be a criminal offence in civilian life - for instance, many had gone absent without leave.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
- reception, first night and induction processes were very good
- there was little bullying or victimisation and staff were quick to respond to any tension
- incidents of self-harm were rare and there was good support and monitoring of detainees who were vulnerable
- security was proportionate and detainees understood and respected the rules which were applied consistently
- staff-detainee relationships were excellent and based on high levels of mutual respect
- detainees were kept busy with plenty of activity - education and military training for those returning to active duty or education and vocational training for those leaving the Services
- literacy and numeracy provision were outstanding and detainees developed good employability skills
- preparation for return to civilian life for those detainees who were to be discharged was very good, with help with debt, accommodation and finding a job on release.
Nick Hardwick said:
"Some aspects of the establishment are not replicable elsewhere; the shared experience of detainees and staff that underpins much of the good relationships and the motivation of many of the detainees are probably unique to a Service environment.
"However, good relationships, the focus of the whole establishment on preparing detainees for release, plenty of good quality activity and care for the vulnerable should be features of any custodial establishment, and the Military Corrective Training Centre demonstrates these in full.
"It is important to remember how far the Centre has come, and the staff are to be congratulated."
The principal function of the MCTC is to detain personnel, both male and female, of the three Services, and civilians subject to the Armed Forces Act, in accordance with the provisions of the Service Custody and Service of Relevant Sentences Rules 2009.
The MCTC is an establishment that provides corrective training for those servicemen and women sentenced to periods of detention; it is not a prison.