Prison deaths prompt independent inquiry into children in custody

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, writes Clare

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile, who will lead the inquiry,
said: “My inquiry will consider the various 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 charges.”

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 after an incident where he was
restrained by three members of staff, and the death of 14-year-old
Adam Rickwood, who hanged himself in Hassockfield STC last

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 vulnerable
children often had histories of physical and sexual abuse and
questioned how they could be expected to change their lives and
take responsibility for their actions with such behaviour to

The inquiry aims to encourage a public debate around the issue
and get improvements in the way children in custody are cared for.
Its announcement follows the launch in May of Community
Care’s Back on Track campaign to reduce of the number of
children held in custody.

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