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Monday, July 09, 2007

Children are 'at risk' from jail restraint

Children 'at risk' from jail restraint - Guardian


"A confidential study commissioned by the government's Youth Justice Board after the death of a 15-year-old boy claims the way children are being restrained in young offender institutions is putting them at risk.

The report, leaked to The Observer, states young offenders 'report that they frequently experience difficulty in breathing during restraint. There have been numerous reports from trainees indicating that many had experienced physical distress, difficulty breathing and other distress during restraints.'

The Review of Physical Control in Care and Behaviour Management in Secure Training Centres also said: 'Of those skills used, a number are unsafe and should be removed from the programme.' Staff were alleged to 'often manipulate an incident' so that they are legally allowed to use force. It gives a typical example in which a staff member initiates a 'low level of physical contact'.

The report was commissioned by the YJB, the body that oversees the institutions, in response to the death of 15-year-old Gareth Myatt in 2004, but has never been published. Myatt choked on his vomit after being restrained at Rainsbrook centre in Northamptonshire.

An inquest into Myatt's death earlier this year recorded a verdict of accidental death but was critical of the role played by the YJB and Rebound ECD, the private company that runs Rainsbrook.

The leaked report found that in some centres as many as '30 per cent' of restraint techniques were used to overcome 'non-compliance, specifically resistance to going to bed or moving from one location to another'. The findings suggest the institutions could be breaking the law. According to the Children Act 1989, 'force should not be used... simply to secure compliance with staff instructions'."