Restraint techniques that have an 'ever-present' risk of death

 

Restraint techniques used to deal with extremely aggressive people can substantially restrict their ability to breathe, an expert has told The Bureau of Investigative Journalism amid calls for fresh scrutiny of the way some of the most disturbed detainees are held by police.

Dr John Parkes, a restraint expert at Coventry University, said those pinned down by police were likely to struggle more as they fought for air. "In the cases in our research, we have used no extreme force, but in some cases have restricted their ability to breath by up to 80 per cent...That was done with very, very little force indeed," he said.

The police continue to use restraint techniques that have been attributed to deaths stretching back nearly two decades. Guidelines do not bar any particular holds but say that the use of force must be lawful, proportionate and necessary.

One technique is so-called "prone restraint", which involves forcing a suspect face down on the floor, cuffing their hands behind their back and then putting pressure on their torso, shoulders and neck. Stricter guidelines on the use of prone restraint in prisons were brought in during the mid-1990s following a spate of restraint deaths. Prison service rules now state that "pressure should not be placed on the neck, especially around the angle of the jaw or windpipe. Pressure on the neck, particularly in the region below the angle of the jaw (carotid sinus) can disturb the nervous controls to the heart and lead to a sudden slowing or even stoppage of the heart."

A 2004 Metropolitan Police review recommended that prone restraint should be avoided or minimised, but, according to 2006 national guidelines, it is still not banned.

Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, a charity that deals with cases involving deaths in custody, believes there are "fundamental problems" in the effectiveness of police training in restraint. "My fear is ... that there is the ever-present risk of death and serious injury and that this is an issue that does require proper public and parliamentary attention as a matter of urgency."

Simon Pountain, the Met Commander responsible for self-defence and restraint at the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "Where an individual is violent and represents a danger to themselves and the public, the police are rightly expected to restrain them for their own safety and to protect other members of the public. Foremost in officers' minds is the safe resolution to volatile situations, not a medical diagnosis."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
news
News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
books...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Application Developer / Software Developer

£21000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software development compa...

Recruitment Genius: Brand Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you wish to be part of an exciting journey ...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Anna Woodward: Reporting Analyst

£35,000: Anna Woodward: Are you excited about making an impact on a FTSE 250 b...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower