Verdict fails to quell restraint row

Adam Rickwood’s mother has promised to challenge the legality of the restraint used on the 14-year-old following the inquest into his death.

A jury last week returned a suicide verdict on Rickwood but Mark Scott, the solicitor representing Rickwood’s mother Carol Pounder, said his client felt the inquest was flawed. He said jurors were not given directions by the coroner on the legality of the restraint used.

Scott added that Pounder would be taking further legal action over the issue and would also push for a full public inquiry into the treatment of vulnerable children in the criminal justice system.

Rickwood was found hanging in his room in Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, in Durham, in August 2004 while on remand. On the day of his death Rickwood, who had a history of self harm, had been forcibly restrained by four staff for refusing to go to his room and had the painful “nose distraction” restraint technique used on him.

The jury exonerated care staff at the training centre, saying they had acted appropriately in the run up to his death, although in his comments the coroner called for an urgent review of the use of restraint on young offenders.

Scott said there were doubts about the circumstances in which restraint could be used. He said the secure training centre rules limited the use of restraint to situations such as those where the inmate was harming themselves or others or property or inciting others to cause harm. There was no suggestion Rickwood was doing any of those things, he said.

The institution put the counter argument that they had an overriding power to use restraint to ensure good order and discipline.

Michael Clarke, communications director at Serco, which runs Hassockfield, said the inquest had considered all the events surrounding Rickwood’s death rather than the lawfulness of a single incident.

The inquest jury also found that Lancashire social services should have done more to get detail’s of Rickwood’s vulnerability to the Youth Justice Board.

A spokesperson for the council said its local safeguarding children board was carrying out a serious case review on Rickwood which would be published in the next few months.

Related articles:
Case worker failed to pass on Rickwood information

Inquest into the death of the youngest child to ever to die in custody to start

Lord Carlile slams use of restraint in custody

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 Simeon Brody

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