Restraint technique found to increase risk of death

Research funded by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) has found that restraining someone by holding them forward in a seated position increases the risk of harm or death.

A study published today in journal Medicine, Science and the Law found that those taking part in the experiments repeatedly reported they couldn’t breathe. One volunteer was so distressed the experiment had to be aborted.

The restraint manoeuvre, known as the double-seated embrace, was banned in the youth secure estate by the YJB in June 2004, just months after 14-year-old Gareth Myatt died after being restrained with the technique at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in April 2004.

A YJB spokeswoman said the research was funded, although not commissioned, by the YJB as long ago as 2004.

Although the technique is banned in the youth secure estate, the findings of the research could have an impact in other areas, such as restraint used in deportations.

Jimmy Mubenga, a 46-year-old Angolan, died while being deported from Britain last year.

In September last year, CYP Now revealed that staff in immigration detention centres and officers escorting children onto planes for deportation are authorised to use restraint techniques.

In the 12 months up to June 2010, detention custody officers were authorised to restrain children on 18 occasions for the purposes of removal, with restraint techniques used on three of those occasions. And between March 2008 and February 2010, restraint was used a further 13 times by officers escorting children onto aircraft.

YJB chief executive John Drew said the report has been shared with relevant government departments and to the agency with ownership of the restraint systems used in secure training centres and young offender institutions.

“They were asked to consider the findings and take any appropriate actions to ensure that existing and future systems of restraint are adjusted accordingly,” he said.

“Additionally, the report was shared with the restraint advisory board to inform their assessment of the new system of restraint for secure training centres and young offender institutions.”