JOINT

Use of restraint and isolation on detained children examined

30 April 2018

The Joint Committee on Human Rights launches inquiry on solitary confinement and restraint of children and young people as serious concerns have been raised about the conditions and treatment of children in detention.

In 2017, the Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales concluded:

"There was not a single establishment that we inspected in England…in which it was safe to hold children and young people."

Despite several recommendations that restraint should only be used as a last resort and only for the purposes of preventing harm to the child or others, it is clear there are many institutions where restraint is commonly used.

In 2016 the Equality and Human Rights Commission told the Committee the use of restraint was at a five year high.

There are widespread concerns at the lack of guidance or protections concerning the use of restraint on children and young people in mental health detention. 

The inquiry examines the use of restraint and isolation on detained children, and their compatibility with human rights laws.

The introduction of the new system of restraint for use in children’s prisons, Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR), has brought about some improvements, but the system still includes techniques which involve deliberately inflicting pain on children. 

There are widespread concerns at the lack of guidance or protections concerning the use of restraint on children and young people in mental health detention.

38% of boys in detention have spent time in solitary confinement

Estimates suggest 38% of boys in detention have spent time in solitary confinement, with reported stays of over 80 days.

This is despite studies showing the degenerating effects of segregation, as summarised in a recent position statement by the British Medical Associations, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, that highlighted “increased risk of suicide or self-harm” and “serious risks of … long-term psychiatric and developmental harm”, in particular on children and young people. 

Concerns have also been raised that this treatment is counterproductive, and contributes to the increasing number of children continuing to re-offend.

Submit your views

The new inquiry will examine the use of restraint and isolation on detained children and their compatibility with human rights laws. It will address three questions:

  • Does the use of restraint and segregation in youth detention lead to children’s rights being commonly breached?
  • Is the guidance on restraint and segregation compliant with human rights standards?
  • Is the Government is doing enough to ensure rights compliant standards are applied across the estate, including in privately run institutions?

The deadline for submissions is Monday 21 May.

Late submissions will be accepted, but the Committee might not be able to fully take account of these when shaping the inquiry programme. 

Written evidence should be submitted online via the evidence portal on the Committee’s website. Guidance on submitting evidence is set out below.

  • Your submission needs to be in Word format, and please try to avoid using coloured type or logos.
  • Submissions should not exceed 1,500 words – and short submissions are welcome.

Please see guidance on written submissions

Further information

Share this page