Inspectorate publishes new report on Woodlands JJC

A new inspection by CJI of Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre (Woodlands JJC) has praised the high standards of care and child-centred focus staff provided to children.
The inspection which involved on-site fieldwork by Inspectors from CJI, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority and the Education and Training Inspectorate found that children were well cared for and felt well cared for by staff,” said CJI Chief Inspector Jacqui Durkin.
“Children were held safely and we found good admission and induction procedures were in place.  There were robust safeguarding measures and support for those at risk of self-harm. Child sexual exploitation screening was also well embedded.  Relationships between staff and young people were positive and Inspectors found evidence of improvements in the planning and delivery of education, learning and skills since the 2018 inspection,” she said.
However, the Chief Inspector was concerned that plans to create a regional care and justice campus through the merging of Woodlands JJC with Lakewood Secure Care Centre (Lakewood) was not being taken forward now, with a shared services model being progressed instead.
“This is disappointing particularly given the uncertainty over budgets and pressures on social worker resources,” said Ms Durkin.
“With a staff team of 97, excluding teaching, health care and other service providers and average costs of £829,988 for each daily occupant in 2020-21, it is difficult to justify the current operating model,” she said, adding that Inspectors had recommended there was a need for greater collaboration between Woodlands and Lakewood in the future.
“The current operating model at Woodlands JJC should be critically reviewed in the next 12 months to take account of the decision of the Ministers of Health and Justice on the future of the joint regional care and justice campus.  The Acting Director of Woodlands should also identify and agree opportunities for Woodlands and Lakewood staff to collaborate more closely, which will be essential for the successful implementation of any new shared services model.  This work should commence within the next three months,” said Ms Durkin.
In addition, Inspectors have made recommendations to improve the governance of the use of single separation - where young people are separated from their peers - to provide assurance and evidence that its use is proportionate, that it is only used as a last resort after other alternatives have been considered, and for the shortest possible time.  Recommendations have also been made to enhance the management and administration of medicines including prescription medication and care planning.
“Children at Woodlands JJC tend to have complex needs that the criminal justice system cannot meet alone, with many young people having spent time in care and moving between Woodlands and Lakewood.
“This underpins the need for greater collaboration, including the use of the collective infrastructure and staff resources, at a time of budgetary pressure, to deliver better outcomes for some of Northern Ireland’s most challenging children, to help them to stop offending and fulfil their potential,” said the Chief Inspector.
Follow this link to access a youth friendly version of the CJI Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre inspection report.