18th June 2020

Anne Longfield responding to reports on the use of restraint and the use of separation in youth custody

Anne Longfield, responding to two reports on the use of restraint and the use of separation in youth custody, said:

“Today we see two major reports on youth custody – on separation and on the use of pain inducing restraint.

“I have called for an outright ban on pain-inducing techniques in youth custody, and while I am disappointed that today’s announcements fall short of that, I welcome the removal of painful techniques from approved training modules and higher safeguards for the use of such techniques. It is also positive that staff will involve children in the management of restraint incidents. Nevertheless, it remains my view that the deliberate infliction of pain has no place in the care of children.

“Also out today is a report on the use of separation in youth custody. I have raised serious concerns about this practice, which in some cases is tantamount to solitary confinement and called for urgent reform.

“While I welcome action to improve the use of separation, again this report does not go far enough. Children in custody are often extremely vulnerable and any child separated out from other children should still have access to fresh air, education, social interaction and therapeutic support. Separation should be a last resort, happen for the shortest amount of time and be subject to strict safeguards.

“All children in custody spend too long in their cells. As our recent briefing shows, during this pandemic children in custody are spending over 20 hours a day in their cells. We need an immediate return to a normal regime and then urgent action to reform the use of separation of children in custody.

“Ultimately, I believe there is an opportunity after this crisis to look to the future and develop a vision for more child-friendly, integrated secure settings for children while reducing the need for children to be in secure provision wherever possible.”

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