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Evaluation of Medway Secure Training Centre


The Home Office funded the Policy Research Bureau (PRB), and the Dartington Social Research Unit (DSRU), to do an evaluation of the new secure training centre at Medway. The centre opened in April 1998, and the research ran for two years, until April 2000, tracking the fortunes of the first trainees sent to the centre. The research team have done much work in the juvenile justice area in the past, and are authors of various books and articles on related topics, including a series of studies on persistent young offenders and young people in custody.

Evaluation was critical if we were to have an accurate historical record of the experience of setting up Medway, and if we are to learn lessons that can be applied to other secure centres. The research was not intended in any way to be a threat to anyone taking part – we hope and believe that it will be useful to everyone as a way of ensuring good practice and maximum benefit from resources. The setting up and the running of Medway was a major challenge and we wanted to make sure that those experiences were acknowledged and recorded for the benefit of everyone concerned, particularly the young people themselves.

What did the research focus on?

We wanted to find out:

  • Whether it was possible to implement the regime at Medway as planned, or whether there were any difficulties with any aspects of the programme
  • Whether it reduces reoffending rates for people who spend time there
  • What effects people notice generally on the young people going through Medway, whether their educational levels improve, whether other problems (such as substance abuse) are tackled effectively, etc.
  • How the experiences at Medway compare with those at other centres both currently and in the past

What did the research involve?

In order to answer these questions, we used a range of data collection techniques. We collected file information about all trainees passing through Medway in its first year of operation, and we interviewed approximately a quarter of them. We followed them into the community and tracked their subsequent behaviour after leaving Medway. We also undertook a series of interviews with staff at the centre, post-release supervisors and other personnel, including families of trainees, and collected a range of relevant documentary evidence relating to the functioning of the centre. We compared the experiences and reoffending rates of trainees with other young people in different types of residential care.

To keep the research as unobtrusive as possible we tried to minimise the amount of extra data we collected over and above the data already being collected as part of the usual routine at Medway. We thus collected information from existing files and documents, from the initial assessments at the centre, and from police records etc.

Timescale and final product of the research

A final report to the Home Office was published in October 2000:

Hagell A, Hazel N and Shaw C (2000) Evaluation of Medway Secure Training Centre. London: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate

The full report is available at no charge from the Research, Development and Statistics Directorate of the Home Office and is available on their website at:

See Publications for further details.

Last updated July 2004