Judge voices concern after ‘highly-disturbed’ 11-year-old boy restrained by police

A High Court judge has voiced concern after a “slight” and “highly-disturbed” epileptic 11-year-old boy was handcuffed and placed in leg restraints by police for an “extended period”.

Mr Justice MacDonald said the boy, who has a complex range of behaviour difficulties, was carried to an ambulance and kept in handcuffs and leg restraints until he arrived at a hospital.

Police removed leg restraints so that he could walk into the hospital but he was kept in handcuffs until he calmed down.

The judge has raised concern about the incident after being asked to make decisions about the boy’s care.

He analysed the case at a recent private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London and has outlined detail in a ruling published online.

Mr Justice MacDonald said the boy could not be identified in media reports of the case but said social services bosses at Barking & Dagenham Council (pictured) in London had responsibilities for his welfare.

The judge said he had concluded that the boy should go into long-term council care.

He has not identified the police force involved.

The judge said the boy had gone into temporary council care and earlier this year been placed at a specialist “therapeutic” residential facility.

He said police had become involved after the boy’s behaviour “escalated” when at a school in March.

The judge said staff caring for the boy had placed him in “holds” four times before he arrived at the school, because of difficulties with his behaviour.

His behaviour had “escalated considerably” when he arrived at the school and “further holds were applied”, said the judge.

While being held he had suffered a seizure.

Paramedics were called, then they called police.

Police had handcuffed the boy and fitted leg restraints – officers said such moves were necessary because he was lashing (out) and kicking out.

Mr Justice MacDonald said police had “plainly” found the episode “trying and frustrating”.

They felt that it was “not their job” to deal with the situation and thought that care professionals involved were “mishandling” the incident.

One officer said he had sworn at the boy when trying to calm him.

“The situation that arose (in) March must give cause for concern given the nature and extent of the restraint used, in particular the fact that there came a point when (the boy), a slight and highly-disturbed 11-year-old child, was handcuffed and placed in leg restraints by the police for an extended period, including during his transport to hospital,” said Mr Justice MacDonald.

“Whilst the situation was clearly challenging for all involved, it is plain that it had an understandably adverse emotional impact on (the boy).”

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