Rainsbrook staff member in restraint case claims damages

A staff member involved in restraining a teenager at Rainsbrook secure training centre who later died is seeking damages from the Ministry of Justice, claiming she has been left traumatised.

Diana Smith, then a training assistant at the Northamptonshire-based secure training centre, was one of three staff who restrained Gareth Myatt, 15, in April 2004 using a technique known as the double-seated embrace. The teenager died from choking on his own vomit while being held down.

Jurors at the five-week inquest into Myatt’s death returned a verdict of accidental death, but criticised the Youth Justice Board for failing to conduct regular reviews into the safety of restraint techniques used against children in the secure estate.

The Home Office-approved technique has since been discontinued, but Smith’s lawyers are expected to argue that the technique should have been reviewed and withdrawn earlier. The case is scheduled to be heard before Lord Justices Laws, Sedley and Patten at London’s Appeal Court this week.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said it would be “inappropriate to comment while the case is ongoing”.

The YJB is appealing against a decision by the Information Commissioner to publish a manual containing details of controversial restraint techniques used in the secure estate.

According to a YJB spokesperson, the Information Tribunal is being asked to reassess the case. The YJB has previously claimed that disclosure of the manual could “prejudice security and put the health and safety of young people and staff within STCs at risk”.

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