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Pain-inducing restraint and solitary confinement

Joint Committee on Human Rights report

24 April 2019
Pain-inducing restraint and solitary confinement

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has produced a report calling for a ban on the uses of pain-inducing techniques and solitary confinement for detained children, suggesting that both practices are currently over-used.

The inquiry considered the use of the practices across a variety of settings, including where children are detained in hospitals for therapeutic care, as well where custodial detention is used as a result of a criminal conviction. It heard evidence from young people who had experienced the techniques themselves, and also received submissions from medics, inspectors, lawyers, and staff, all of which suggested that restraint and separation is harmful to children and should be avoided. The report goes on to argue that the practices can cause harm and can undermine the therapeutic and rehabilitative aims of detention, which conflicts with various aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The recommendations that the report sets out in response include a specific proposal to ban pain-inducing restraints in young offender institutions, and for restraint for the purposes of 'good order and discipline' to only be used in the most exceptional of circumstances. It also calls for more rigorous regulation on the techniques used within different settings, with a suggestion that each institution should be required to produce an annual publication of statistics on their use. The report also calls for more staff and training to ensure incidents can be de-escalated more effectively, as well as more places for detained children that are closer to home so that families can assist with care and rehabilitation.

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