Prisons inspector highlights over-use of restraint cells

The chief inspector of prisons has slammed the use of special
cells at Styal prison in an inspection report which revealed how a
number of women were stripped under restraint and placed in the
bare cells on the segregation unit, writes Clare

Anne Owers said she was “particularly concerned” about
the over use of special cells for restraining prisoners in the
Cheshire jail.

“Women were held there for lengthy periods – an average
of seven-and-a-half hours – sometimes long after records
showed that they had calmed down,” she warned. One in 10 were
held for more than 12 hours.

The inspector also expressed concern at the use of the cells for
self-harmers, which is against Prison Service guidance.

The report revealed that the “extreme facility” had
been used on 44 occasions in the year prior to inspection and in 11
cases, no reason was given for such treatment. One woman was
detained for keeping her wing awake by kicking her door which Owers
said was “an inadequate explanation or an inappropriate use
of the facility”.

She highlighted a number of instances where women were stripped
under restraint and placed in the cells. But there had been no
recorded risk assessment and no use of alternative measures.

Owers pledged to monitor the use of special cells after the Home
Office admitted they were used more than 150 times for juveniles
last year (News, 22 January, page 7).

This week she reiterated that special cells should be a facility to
allow people to calm-down “and not a long-term holding

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