The restraint hold on Gareth Myatt before he died was used as a “default” method at the secure training centre where he was detained, an inquest was told today.
John Parker, director of Rainsbrook STC in Northamptonshire, <A href="http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2007/02/12/103308/inquest-into-gareth-myatts-death-begins-this-week.html made the admission at the inquest into the death of the 15-year-old at the centre in April 2004.
Myatt was held down by three officers using the double-seated embrace, which was banned two months later after police advice.
The hold involves two officers sitting either side of the person, locking the arms and legs and leaning the body forward. In addition, a third officer can hold the head, as in this case.
A police report into safety at the centre in June 2004 found “a worrying disposition of staff to the utilisation of the [double-seated embrace] as the default method of restraint”.
Dexter Dias, representing Myatt’s family, asked whether staff would “jump” to using the technique, and Parker, director of the centre since 2001, said they would.
But he had told the court earlier that he had confidence in the training and professionalism of his staff and that restraint was used only as a “last resort”.
The inquest was told that, as part of the police report, a medical expert had assessed 52 incidents of the double-seated embrace in the year before Myatt’s death. Thirty-four “involved clear signs of potentially lethal restraint”, resulting in situations “where the lives of children were unacceptably endangered”.
Parker said he was made aware of some children needing hospital treatment after restraint but said he had not noticed “a pattern of danger”.
The hearing, at the Rushden and Diamond conference centre in Northamptonshire, continues.