The government has suspended the use of two restraint techniques used on children in custody after a panel of medical experts raised concerns about the safety of the “nose distraction” and the “double basket hold”.
The announcement follows the recent death of Liam McManus, 15, who died in custody in November.
In 2004, Adam Rickwood, 14, and Gareth Myatt, 15, both died in custody after staff used physical restraint techniques at secure training centres.
The coroner in this year’s inquest into Myatt’s death noted that restraint techniques, such as the double basket hold, continued to be used despite medical experts judging them to be dangerous.
According to the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), a coalition of over 380 member organisations, 30 children have died in custody in the UK since 1990.
CRAE has campaigned alongside organisations and individuals since 2005 to ban the use of dangerous restraint techniques and called for the reform of custodial settings for children.
Minister for children Beverley Hughes and minister for justice David Hanson made the announcement in a letter sent to Carolyne Willow, CRAE’s national co-ordinator, on Tuesday.
Willow said: “At last ministers seem to have accepted that children in prison are entitled to the same level of human rights protection as children in families and other settings.
“Ministers and staff in these centres have tried to hide behind euphemisms but hitting children on the nose to get them to comply with instructions is a form of torture which is in clear breach of human rights, not to mention child cruelty and assault laws.”
The nose distraction technique involves hitting a child’s nose upwards on the septum.