Approach To Restraint Of Young People To Be Overhauled Following Independent Review

 The approach to the restraint of young people in young offender institutions, secure training centres and secure children’s homes (under-18 secure estates) is to be overhauled, the Government announced today. The reform programme is to be backed by an additional £4.9m over the next two years.

The announcement follows the publication of the report, Independent Review of Restraint in Juvenile Secure Settings, earlier today. The review was co-chaired by Peter Smallridge and Andrew Williamson, two distinguished experts from the field of children’s social services, and examined current policy and practice on the use of restraint with a focus on the prevention of risk of harm.

The review was commissioned by the Government following inquests in 2007 into the deaths of Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood in secure training centres.

The joint review found widespread acceptance that it is sometimes necessary to use force to restrain young people in the secure estate, particularly when failing to do so would place a young person or others in danger.

Key findings and recommendations of the review included:

* Certain restraint techniques, including the double basket hold, should be removed permanently.
* In exceptional circumstances, it may be appropriate to use pain compliance techniques of restraint to ensure the safety of young people or staff.
* All staff should have consistent and comprehensive training in the awareness of risk factors in restraint; the monitoring of warning signs in young people; and the need to take action quickly.

In its response to the review, the Government has undertaken to accept and implement nearly all of its recommendations and to implement a major programme of work to address concerns, remedy problems, and introduce greater consistency.

Justice Minister David Hanson said:

“The use of physical restraint on young people under 18 gives rise to strong views. It is generally agreed that as far as possible restraint is to be avoided and, where it is unavoidable, that the methods used should be as safe as possible and employed only by staff who have received proper, and regularly-renewed, training. It is important that the training should include instruction in how to defuse potential incidents, so that use of restraint can be avoided wherever possible.

“I would like to thank co-chairs Peter Smallridge and Andrew Williamson for introducing such an impressive body of evidence to the debate on restraint in their independent review.

“We will take on their recommendations and drive through a programme of effective change.

“We have asked the co-chairs, as independent experts, to monitor this programme and to report back to us during each of the first two years after implementation on the extent to which the changes they have recommended have been put into practice.”

Childrens’ Minister Beverley Hughes said:

“The use of restraint on young people is an important and sensitive issue and our priority is to ensure rigorous safeguarding for young people in custody.

“The independent Chairs of the review have balanced the need for appropriate safeguards and monitoring with an acceptance that occasionally it is necessary to use restraint as a last resort to protect other young people and staff.

“Our aim is to make maximum progress to implement change in the young people’s estate as quickly as possible. The additional money we will provide will support a package of measures to drive change, including enhanced training in working with young people, defusing difficult situations and behaviour management, so that we can be certain that restraint is only ever used as a last resort and with rigorous safeguards.”