Call for ban on painful restraint of children

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The Independent Online

The deliberate use of pain to restrain young people in custody should be banned immediately, a report has recommended.

The report, based on research for the Office of the Children's Commissioner, called for the Youth Justice Board and the Ministry of Justice to fall into line with international standards set by the United Nations and the European Council.

The Office of the Children's Commissioner, set up in 2004, promotes awareness of the views and interests of children.

The views of 89 young people were canvassed for the study by the charity User Voice, which is led by former offenders who work with marginalised groups in the criminal justice system. One girl described the use of restraint as "disgusting" while a boy said being restrained had made him feel "helpless".

Mark Johnson, the founder of User Voice, said: "I recognise that members of staff in the secure estate can work with some of the country's most troubled children. However, physical force should only ever be used as a measure of last resort and must be done in the safest possible way."

Young people's experience of restraint differs between institutions, but the report said it could have a "profound, lasting and negative impact on young people".

It added: "Physical force should only ever be used as a measure of last resort and must be done in the safest possible way. It should be used to de-escalate situations."

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