Children's rights alliance attacks offender restraint report for backing pain compliance

Joe Lepper
Thursday, March 10, 2011

An independent report into physical restraint of young offenders has been criticised for continuing to support the use of so-called "pain compliance" techniques.

The progress report of the review panel, set up four years ago following the deaths in custody of two young offenders, states that "in some circumstances, pain compliance was necessary".

Carolyne Willow, national co-ordinator for the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, said the review team should be ashamed of themselves for continuing "to defend the use of pain-compliance restraints".

Willow added that pain compliance techniques, which include thumb and rib distraction, have been strongly criticised by among others the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights.

She is also concerned that the bulk of the progress report is based largely on evidence from staff at secure training centres rather than young people.

She added: "It gives implicit support to the increased use of handcuffs because ‘representatives from the youth secure estate’ say they have ‘no personality’ and don’t cause pain. This is not what children say."

The review team, which is led by former social services directors Peter Smallridge and Andrew Williamson, also welcomed action taken by the government to improve physical restraint training since its initial report in 2008.

In October last year, new guidance on its use in secure training centres was drafted. This removed other controversial techniques such as hitting a child in the face with an elbow.

The review team’s latest progress report does concede that "there remains more to do". It calls on the government to carry out an assessment of restraint techniques in secure children’s homes (SCH) as "they differ from one SCH to another". It also calls for clearer record-keeping of the use of restraint techniques.

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