Restraining children is 'cruel and degrading'

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One of Britain's largest children's charities last night condemned a secret manual for restraining young people in custody as "cruel and degrading".

The manual, which emerged yesterday after a five-year Freedom of Information battle, advises staff to adopt strategies such as elbowing a child in the ribs and driving fingers into their face.

Phillip Noyes, director of strategy and development at the NSPCC, said the practice represented a breach of human rights. "These revelations illustrate the cruel and degrading violence inflicted at times on children in custody," he said. "Even though these children have committed offences we must remember they are still children."

Physical Control in Care, published by the HM Prison Service in 2005, guides staff on what self-defence or restraint techniques can be used on young offenders in secure training centres.

The Ministry of Justice has said that restraint is always a last resort for people under the age of 18, but that staff need to be able to intervene effectively when people were at risk.