Many of the Netherlands’ juvenile detention centres are dangerous places for inmates as well as staff, according to a critical report published by social work inspectors on Monday.
While all 14 centres are at risk of developing unsafe situations, six present a ‘very serious risk’ for both youngsters and staff, the report said.
The centres are home to young people with severe behavioural or psychiatric problems, many of whom have committed crimes.
The population of juvenile detention centres has doubled over the past 10 years. Some 86% on inmates are under the age of 18 and nearly 80% are male.
The report concludes that there were shortcomings in the treatment of youngsters with psychiatric and behavioural difficulties as well as a shortage of qualified staff.
Staff shortages meant that in some institutions, young people are not getting enough education and are being locked up in their cells for long periods.
In addition, there is too little attention paid to combating violence and aggression. Officials seem focus on solving problems rather than preventing them from occurring in the first place, the inspectors said.
Social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner commissioned the report when he was the justice minister in the previous government. The investigation was set up after serious problems with bullying and sexual intimidation were reported at the Harreveld detention centre.
The inspectors have called on the justice ministry to take urgent steps to improve the situation.
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