Painful restraint removed from core training for escort officers but will appear under ‘personal safety’


Pain-inducing restraint has been removed from the core syllabus used to train officers responsible for escorting children to and from custody.

The changes come following the publication of a review by former YJB chair Charlie Taylor. Picture: YJB
The changes come following the publication of a review by former YJB chair Charlie Taylor. Picture: YJB

The controversial technique, which many children’s rights organisations and the children’s commissioner for England have called to be banned, will now appear in a separate “personal safety” element of the training, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed.

The move comes following the publication of the Independent review of pain-inducing techniques in the youth secure estate by former chair of the Youth Justice Board Charlie Taylor in June.

The long-awaited review of the pain-inducing restraint in the youth justice system stopped short of recommending an outright ban on the use of such techniques but states they should be used in exceptional circumstances.

During his 12-month review, Taylor says that he “frequently witnessed…the overuse of painful techniques” by staff in young offender institutions, secure training centres and secure children’s homes.

A key factor in this, he concludes in his report, is the inclusion of painful techniques in the Minimising and Managing Painful Restraint (MMPR) syllabus, the key training programme for officers in the youth secure estate.

Confirming the removal of pain-inducing restraint from the core training syllabus, a spokeswoman for the MoJ said it is now taught as part of “personal safety” training as it “may need to be used when a child poses risk of serious harm to themselves or another person”.

A notice was issued to escort companies GEOAmey and Serco last week specifying that pain is not permissible when other approaches are possible, the spokeswoman added.

The review was commissioned in 2018 after campaign group Article 39 brought a legal challenge on the state’s use of pain against children.

Carolyne Willow, director of Article 39, said it was “excellent” to see the technique removed from the core syllabus, however, vowed to “be sure that the new policy genuinely removes pain and complies with children’s human rights”.

She said: “Obviously we have to ensure this is a genuine change to policy and practice. There were other elements to our legal challenge, to protect children from being restrained to make them follow orders, and we have a tribunal coming up to press for disclosure of the recorded reasons for why children in prison were inflicted with pain. So we are not finished by any means.

“Inflicting pain as a form of behaviour management is morally reprehensible and seriously damaging to children. It has survived this long because of punitive attitudes and the organisation and culture of prisons. The demise of this institutional child abuse must go hand in hand with the closure of child prisons and serious investment in welfare-based secure children’s homes.”

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