`

MP’s call to ban use of pain-inducting restraints on troubled children

Emma Lewell-Buck, Labour MP for South Shields.
Emma Lewell-Buck, Labour MP for South Shields.

South Shields MP, Emme Lewell-Buck is leading a call to end the use of pain-inducting restraints against children in custody.

A review of the practice is now under way by the Government but Mrs Lewell-Buck is calling for the methods to be scrapped in young offenders institutions and secure training centres in her role as Shadow Minister for Children and Families - which covers children who are incarcerated or in secure residential care.

In my job I saw quite a few young people who very troubled and would lash out, but I never thought the way of dealing with that was causing them pain.

Emma Lewell-Buck

The methods are allowed to be used on children as young as 10 when they are being escorted to and from secure homes, but are banned in the homes themselves.

Ministry of Justice figures reveal there were 97 incidents last year when young offenders showed signs of asphyxiation or other danger signs after being restrained, while four suffered serious injuries and needed hospital treatment.

The charity Article 39 has threatened legal action over the use of the methods by escort officers and urged the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to end the use of the techniques.

Phillip Lee, the youth justice minister, has told Mrs Lewell-Buck i that their use may be necessary and proportionate to protect a child or others from a risk of serious physical harm.

But he has agreed that the MoJ will carry out an assessment on their use, which could take up to a year to complete.

Mrs Lewell-Buck has highlighted how minimising and managing physical restraint (MMPR) guidelines for both children and adults were introduced in 2012, but organisations which investigate claims of abuse, such as the prisons and probation ombudsman, only has access to the publicly available version which has 182 pieces of information blacked out.

She wants to see the full copy made available.

Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “For me, these are children who are forgotten about and we have to remember, they are still kids.

“I was a social worker and the children I came across only behaved the way they did as a reaction to something or someone, they weren’t inherently that way.

“The number of children in these places are the highest they have been since the 1980s.

“In my job I saw quite a few young people who very troubled and would lash out, but I never thought the way of dealing with that was causing them pain.

“If you’re an adult, you should be able to and be trained to work with that children and sort it out without using pain-inducing ways.

“They should not be used against kids.”

The MoJ has said staff are trained to try and resolve conflict verbally and it is clear restraint should only be used as a last resort and when there is a risk of harm and not other intervention can be used.