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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
England's 'most violent' detention centre
Castington YOI
Assaults at Castington exceed the national average
A young offenders' institution in Northumberland has been named as the most violent detention centre in England.

Figures from the Prison Reform Trust show that 222 assaults were recorded at Castington Young Offender's Institution in Morpeth last year.

Joe Levenson, from the trust, told BBC News Online: "There was a much higher assault rate at Castington last year compared to the previous year and these are only recorded incidents.

If they are scared and alienated in prison they are never going to be in a fit state to re-enter society on release

Joe Levenson, Prison Reform Trust
"Something needs to be explained.

"The assaults range from a push to a violent incident which requires the police.

"We think it is shocking, because if prisoners do not feel safe, how can you expect them to carry out constructive activities?

"If they are scared and alienated in prison they are never going to be in a fit state to re-enter society on release, " he added.

Recording system

The trust accepts that young offender's institutions are generally more violent than adult prisons.

But it stresses that the assault rate in Castington last year was 10 times higher than the national average.

The governor at Castington was unavailable for comment.

But the Prison Service maintains that there is a strict system of recording and reporting of assaults in order for anti-bullying policies to work.

Castington YOI staff
Staff "are aware" of the incidents
In a statement, the service said: "The area manager, governor and staff are aware of the increase in the assault rate at Castington.

"The majority of these assaults are of a minor nature, and staff are currently working with prisoners to reduce the level of assaults."

The figures show that 93% of the inmates at Castington were assaulted last year.

Mr Levenson added: "The Home Office and the Prison Service know what the problems are.

"One answer is to divert some people away from prison, as there is too much overcrowding and not enough staff to do the job."

Other youth jails with high levels of assaults included Brinsford in Wolverhampton, Huntercombe in Oxfordshire, and Ashfield in Bristol.

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