Teenager’s death in custody was ‘disaster waiting to happen’ says ex-Youth Justice Board chief

The death of 15-year-old Gareth Myatt after being restrained in detention was a “disaster waiting to happen”, the then chief executive of the Youth Justice Board admitted yesterday.

On the first day of the inquest into Myatt’s death  in April 2004, Mark Perfect said: “Clearly it is of regret. Whatever we did was not enough.”
Three officers at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre had used the double seated embrace technique on Myatt, who weighed 6.5 stone and was 4ft 10ins.

The technique, part of the physical control in care system of restraint used in the privately-run STCs, was banned in June 2004 on the advice of police investigating Myatt’s death. In the same month Perfect resigned from the board.

The Home Office had told the YJB a review of the safety of the restraint system should have been carried out, but that did not happen until Myatt’s death raised concerns, the court heard.

Three other children at Rainsbrook were hospitalised after having the double seated embrace used on them prior to Myatt’s death, Dexter Dias, representing his family, said.

One girl was in a neck brace for five days, Dias told the inquest, held at the Rushden and Diamond conference centre in Northamptonshire.

Dias said there was clear evidence that the double seated embrace was putting children in danger and that the failure to review the safety of the physical control in care system meant Myatt’s death was a “disaster waiting to happen”.

Faltering, Mr Perfect replied: “It was a disaster that happened so it was a disaster waiting to happen.”

The hearing continues.

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