Restraint guidance set to standardise Scots’ procedures

A set of guidance on the use of physical restraint for Scotland’s
residential child care practitioners has been launched,
writes Derren Hayes.

Holding Safely aims to provide consistent criteria for
professionals to assess whether physical intervention is necessary
and what techniques should be used.

Developed by the Scottish Institute of Residential Child Care
(Sircc) at the University of Strathclyde, the guidance is supported
by the Scottish executive.

It was launched at Sircc’s conference earlier this month and will
be distributed to child care professionals, and available free on
Sircc’s website, (,
from September.

Different homes – and different types of professional – were
applying different protocols on physical intervention. For example
residential workers and teachers at a residential school would have
different guidance.

Holding Safely is Scotland’s answer to this, but Jennifer
Davidson, director of Sircc, says there are other reasons for its

A Who Cares? Scotland report published last year cited young people
saying that staff caring for them should know how to restrain
properly and when it is appropriate. The United Nations Convention
on the Rights of the Child has also called for UK practices on
restraint to be reviewed.

Davidson says that the guidance “should reduce those occasions when
you need to restrain, and prepare you for when it is absolutely

The guidance, put together by managers and practitioners, also
emphasises the importance of post-restraint analysis so that when
incidents do occur staff and young people can understand why and
try to avoid it happening again.

Di Hart, principal officer for children at the National Children’s
Bureau, says it is important professionals learn from situations.
“You’ve got to see the early signs of conflict and work out what
will defuse the situation so that you only use physical
intervention as a final resort.”

Hart praises the guidance for providing a “clear framework” for
judging intervention methods and says England should follow suit
and produce something similar.

The Youth Justice Board issued a draft code of practice on physical
restraint of children in custody in England and Wales earlier this

But Hart seems unconvinced guidance will appear for residential
homes in England because the government has a “vested interest” in
keeping it vague. “Then if someone is sued it will be the
practitioner and not the government.”

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