Restraint of detained children doubles says Howard League report


The use of physical restraint against children in custody has more than doubled over the last five years, a damning report has revealed.

This has happened, despite the number of children behind bars falling over the last 10 years from nearly 3,000 to fewer than 1,000, according to the report from the Howard League for Penal Reform.

It comes 10 years after the Howard League published the Carlile Inquiry following the deaths in custody of two teenagers, which recommended that restraint should never be used ‘to secure obedience or compliance’.

The report, The Carlile Inquiry 10 Years On, found that between 2011 and 2015, 4,350 injuries had been sustained by children subject to restraint and a fifth of incidents involved the ‘head-hold’ technique.

It also showed the ‘widespread practice’ of holding children in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and the fact that 367 boys had been strip-searched in 2015.

Chief executive of the Howard League, Frances Crook, said: ‘There is much to celebrate in the story of children in conflict with the law because the numbers are significantly reduced, but still children in custody are mistreated, abused, and suffer a punishing regime.’

Carlile called on the Ministry of Justice to do more to implement his previous recommendations.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said such techniques should be a ‘last resort,’ and added: ‘We are clear that if restraint is absolutely necessary, it must be used within the parameters of the law, and comply with strict safeguards.’

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