Concern over use of restraint at secure facilities after teenager's death in North-East (From The Northern Echo)
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Concern over use of restraint at secure facilities after teenager's death in North-East
MPs have raised the alarm over the rising use of force to restrain young offenders in detention - two years after it was blamed for a teenager’s suicide in the North-East.
An inquest found that painful techniques used to restrain 14-year-old Adam Rickwood, below, - at the Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, near Consett, County Durham - had contributed to his death.
The troubled teenager was found dead six hours after being restrained by four officers, who carried him to his cell and left him with a bleeding nose.
As a result, ministers announced that new rules, called ‘Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint’, would be introduced in secure centres and young offender institutions.
But an investigation by the all-party justice select committee has found that incidents of physical restraint leapt by 17 per cent in 2011-12, to a total of 8,419.
And the Chief Inspector of Prisons told the year-long inquiry, into the youth justice system, that the policy was still “a matter of theory” – yet to be implemented.
Now the report has concluded that – while the new policy was “welcome” – a “more fundamental cultural shift” was required in young offender institutions.
It said: “It is matter of serious concern to us that, despite the fact that the use of force in restraining young offenders has now been definitively linked to the death of at least one young person in custody, the use of restraint rose considerably across the secure estate last year.
“We intend to keep a watching brief on this issue and recommend that Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons reports on the implementation and impact of the new policy in more detail.”
In January 2011, a jury in Easington found that the use of Physical Control in Care (PCC) on Adam was part of “an unlawful regime" at privately-run Hassockfield.
Youth Justice Board monitors should have been aware that PCC was being used and that staff, who believed they were behaving lawfully, were inadequately trained.
A second death in restraint-related incidents – that of Gareth Myatt, aged 15, at Rainsbrook centre, in Rugby – also provoked strong criticism.
But, quizzed about the new rules, announced in July 2012, Nick Hardwick, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “At the moment, the new restraint policy is still a matter of theory.
“We have not seen it put into practice yet. Where I do have a concern is about the use of pain compliance techniques on children.
“That does not just have an adverse consequence for the individual child - my concern is about what that does, if it is allowed, to the culture and ethos of the institution.”
Of the 8,419 incidents of physical restraint recorded in 2011-12, 254 led to injuries, the MPs’ report said – of which seven per cent were serious.
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