Justice board on defensive despite tragedy of boy restrained at centre

The Youth Justice Board has defended its use of secure training
centres for young offenders even though a 15 year old died last
week after being restrained in one of them.

Gareth Myatt, who had just begun a 12-month detention and training
order, died in hospital after losing consciousness while being
restrained by three staff at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre near

But the YJB insisted it had confidence in the centre and would
continue to allocate children there.

It has, however, enhanced its monitoring of the centre’s regime to
ensure it is complying with its contract. The centre, which has
been praised by social services inspectors, operates a “physical
control in care” method when restraining children.

Penal reformers have called for the staff involved in the incident
to be suspended pending an independent investigation, and for the
unit manager to be replaced with a local authority social services

“If a teacher slaps a child in school they are immediately
suspended, so it is extraordinary that when a child dies staff
continue working,” said Frances Crook, director of the Howard
League for Penal Reform.

She questioned whether it was necessary for three staff to restrain
a 4ft 10in, 7st boy.

But Paul Cook, director of children’s services at Rebound, part of
Group 4, which runs the centre, said he had “confidence” in his
staff. There was no intention to suspend anyone at this stage as
there was no evidence that they had acted outside what they had
been trained to do.

It is the first time there has been a death in such a centre. Where
possible, vulnerable boys aged 15 and 16 are placed in the centres
or local authority secure children’s homes.

A serious case review will be carried out by Stoke area child
protection committee.

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