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
    Jerrom
    .

    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
    facility”.

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