An independent inquiry into the use of strip searching, physical
restraint and segregation for children in prisons was announced by
the Howard League for Penal Reform this week.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile, who will lead the inquiry,
said: “My inquiry will consider the ways that children are treated
in penal custody that in any other circumstance would trigger a
child protection investigation and could even result in criminal
While recognising that many of the children in custody exhibited
challenging behaviour and had complex needs, Carlile said he was
concerned about the forcible stripping of young people, long
periods of isolation and physical restraint.
The move follows the death of 15-year-old Gareth Myatt, who died in
Rainsbrook secure training centre (STC) after being restrained by
three staff, and the death of 14-year-old Adam Rickwood, who hanged
himself in Hassockfield STC last month.
Figures from the Howard League reveal that physical restraint in
the three privately run STCs has been used more than 11,500 times
in five years.
Howard League director Frances Crook said these children often had
a history of abuse and questioned how they could be expected to
take responsibility for their actions when they were treated this
The inquiry aims to encourage a public debate on the issue. In July
Community Care launched its Back on Track campaign to
reduce the number of children held in custody.